Green Day at Old Trafford, 21/06/24

Dookie turns 30, American Idiot turns 20 and Manchester turns into Green Day's biggest ever birthday party

Time means nothing when Green Day are on stage. Even though they’ve made a habit of playing sets exceeding two-and-a-half if not three hours (value for money, eh?) time evaporates and the hours feel like minutes when the Oakland punks are ripping through their greatest hits. This time around, however, time means nothing in another sense too. Their stadium run, while technically in support of their new album Saviors, is also a celebration of the 30th anniversary of Dookie and the 20th anniversary of American Idiot. It’s as enticing an offering in practice as it is on paper – and these songs have barely aged a day. 

A Green Day show is a rather straightforward thing – just three men rocketing through their songs as if they’re racing against time. Production-wise, things land just the right side of simple – its display of fire blasts, indoor fireworks and life-size cutouts of the two big albums’ artwork is bombastic enough to fill the space without feeling decadent. Despite the significance of their landmark albums’ birthdays, there’s little pause for sentimentality (or even for American Idiot’s ongoing grim political relevance as the US stares down the barrel of a second tyrannical Trump term). More often than not, if frontman Billie Joe Armstrong speaks to the crowd, it’s to get them to sing “way-oh”. “There’s a lot of drinking today,” he offers as he studies the punters below the stage. “This is going to be wild…” 

All Green Day really have to do though is show up. The sheer heft of their back catalogue carries them, with the spirited ‘Basket Case’, the jet-fueled ‘American Idiot’ and the spiky ‘Holiday’ seemingly rousing every person in Old Trafford’s cricket ground to bellow along. Indeed, while album-in-full shows can properly expose a record’s weak points, there’s nothing in this chunky 37-song setlist that can’t pull its weight, from the downtrodden calypso of ‘Give Me Novocaine’ to the stirring epic ‘Homecoming’. The newer cuts peppering the setlist are equally well chosen even if they were never bound to elicit the same reaction – Saviors lead single ‘The American Dream Is Killing Me’ is a bombastic opener while the sweet ‘Bobby Sox’ is a curveball of an encore opener but still works like a charm. From start to finish, tonight is a genius showing and a fun, yet powerful, reminder of the graft that’s made Green Day the megastars they deserve to be. 

Green Day play Glasgow’s Bellahouston Park on 25 June, Dublin’s Marlay Park on 27 June and London’s Wembley Stadium on 29 June. Find tickets here

Photo credit: Mark Holloway/Redferns