Green Day new live album is somewhat awesome

Green Day
Awesome As F**k
Reprise (526235-2)
Grade: ****

By Gillian G. Gaar

Green Day’s second live release captures some of the excitement of the band in concert, though it’s a shame they didn’t put just a bit more effort into making this a truly definitive live album.

For one thing, the show is limited to one CD; instead of including a DVD with another partial show in the set, it would have been nice to have had an entire concert, even if spread over two CDs (featuring a complete show on one DVD would’ve worked too). It’s also strange that Green Day resorts to compiling a show from several different concerts; they’re consistent enough live performances that drawing on a single show would’ve been easy, and enhanced the overall continuity.

The DVD is a particular mess. Jerky camera movements, grainy footage (some in black and white) making it look like you’re watching on a defective TV, the show broken up by snippets of backstage footage dropped in, the framing so tight you can’t appreciate the elaborate stage backdrop that added so much to the show — it all makes the show not just difficult, but actually unpleasant to watch. This is why fans still buy illicitly shot videos; because they don’t want to be buried by a lot of director’s tricks.

But both discs sound great, with the songs from “21st Century Breakdown” and “American Idiot” really coming to life in concert. The transition from the mature material of the later years and the band’s earlier songs is somewhat jarring, but songs like “Welcome To Paradise” and “Geek Stink Breath” still hold up nicely. And the band’s energy never flags throughout, guitarist/vocalist Billie Joe Armstrong easily switching from his singing voice to loud screams demanding the crowd “get those hands in the air!” “Awesome As F**k” really does convey how powerful Green Day can be in performance.

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