Green Day

News out of the Green Day camp since the release of the band's third Reprise disc, "Nimrod," has been heavy on criticism and destruction, a deflection of attention from their melodic brand of punk. But this NoCal brat pack attacked Wednesday's 20 songs with a pointed sense of purpose, eradicating the notion that their newsworthiness had been reduced to coverage of the trio's erratic behavior.

With:
Band: Billie Joe Armstrong, Tre Cool, Mike Dirnt.

News out of the Green Day camp since the release of the band’s third Reprise disc, “Nimrod,” has been heavy on criticism and destruction, a deflection of attention from their melodic brand of punk. But this NoCal brat pack attacked Wednesday’s 20 songs with a pointed sense of purpose, eradicating the notion that their newsworthiness had been reduced to coverage of the trio’s erratic behavior.

Within the simple three-chord avalanche of older faves “Basket Case,” “Prosthetic Head” and show opener “Going to Pasalacqua,” Green Day succeeded in connecting with its mosh-happy audience beyond a healthy degree of familiarity. Ringleader Billie Joe Armstrong’s vigor and straightforward articulation, on this night at least, gave the material an immense boost; newer songs such as “Hitchin’ a Ride” and “The Grouch” rode a visceral thread from “Geek Stink Breath” to “2,000 Light Years Away” that cemented their rightful place in the GD canon.

There’s no getting around the environment that produced Green Day, seemingly a cell with nothing but Roadrunner cartoons and products from the Who and Ramones. Yet Armstrong continues to improve as a foul-mouthed frontman, shedding some of the silliness for a more potent and full-bodied approach, and retaining his trademark stiff-bodied perusal of the crowd. His goofier moments — covering himself in fans’ T-shirts — drew a blase reaction as did a sustained jaunt through some feedback that accompanied Tre Cool’s trashing of his drum kit. When Armstrong emerged solo from the monotony for a striking electric rendition of “Good Riddance” (think Billy Bragg), he created a truly winning moment.

Sophistication has never been any punk band’s calling card. Although “Nimrod’s” supporters point often to a raised level of maturity in the songwriting, little of that was evident Wednesday, the first of three sold-out Palace gigs. The maturity here was found in the consistency and assuredness of the delivery, and that will go a long way in deciding how much of a future this band will have.

Green Day

Palace; 800 capacity; $20

Production: Presented by Goldenvoice. Reviewed Dec. 10, 1997, closes Dec. 12.

Cast: Band: Billie Joe Armstrong, Tre Cool, Mike Dirnt.

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