DealsReview: Green Day’s rocking Hella Mega Tour offers respite...

Review: Green Day’s rocking Hella Mega Tour offers respite from pandemic

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Green Day was only on stage a few minutes Tuesday night, Aug. 10, at Detroit’s Comerica Park when frontman and ringmaster Billie Joe Armstrong admonished fans to “put away the phones!”
“We’ve had to look at our (expletive) phones all during this (expletive) pandemic,” Armstrong declared. “Now we get to be together. … This is unity!”
The Hella Mega Tour — also featuring Fall Out Boy, Weezer and the Interrupters — was, in fact, all about returning to normalcy, or the latest incarnation of it, amidst continually trying times of COVID. Of all the concerts since live music returned in force this summer, the stadium-sized spectacle was the most overt celebration yet, right from the Interrupters’ Kevin Bivona asking, “Detroit, Michigan, how does it feel to be at a concert right now?!” through to the fireworks display that ended Green Day’s set nearly five and a half hours later.
The tour — which was originally booked for 2020 — did not need to be reminded that the pandemic is still present tense, of course; Fall Out Boy returned to the stage Tuesday after missing three previous shows due to an unspecified team member’s infection. But it was an opportunity to put concerns on their own kind of pause, at least for a few hours, and enjoy a communal night of noisy big fun.
And to be reminded that rock ‘n’ roll could still be a force to be reckoned with. Fall Out Boy bassist Pete Wentz told the 35,000 or so at Comerica’s second concert in three days (after Guns N’ Roses on Sunday) that Hella Mega was organized to face down skeptics who felt the genre was no longer a strong draw. “We decided to challenge that theory and put together the biggest (expletive) rock tour this summer,” Wentz said. “We think it’s pretty (expletive) evident the kids still listen to rock ‘n’ roll.”
Few bands prove that better, on a consistent basis, than Green Day, and Tuesday night was no exception. A band that’s willing to do anything it thinks will entertain, including pyrotechnics and confetti, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame trio and its three additional musicians had Comerica Park singing along to every word of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” before it hit the stage, then had the stadium shaking as it cranked into “American Idiot.” The ebullient Armstrong led the charge through choreographed craziness — pulling a fan on stage at one point to play guitar during a cover of Operation Ivy’s “Knowledge,” then to a stage dive back into the crowd — and plenty of call-and-response chants.
And the parade of hits — “Longview,” “Welcome to Paradise,” “Basket Case,” “Minority,” “Wake Me Up When September Ends,” a cover of Kiss’ “Rock and Roll All Nite,” et al — had the crowd singing almost as much as Armstrong himself.
Green Day did skew a bit deeper within the fusillade, however. Lyrics such as “It’s wonderful to be alive. … Everything is gonna be all right” from “Pollyanna” felt more meaningful in the context of current circumstances, and Armstrong took more than a few opportunities during the nearly 100-minute set to declare that “We’re still alive!” and note, “We all waited out this (expletive) pandemic, but now we all get to be together.”
Fall Out Boy was clearly happy to be back on the road, with Wentz acknowledging that “this week has been a bit of a cluster… for our band.” He acknowledged the support the band had received from fans, and the quartet’s hour-long set, fortified with regular bursts of fire, played as a faux “space opera,” complete with a narrator on screen and scenery changes. More effective was the 14-song set list, another hit-filled affair that reached back for “Where Is Your Boy” — which frontman Patrick Stump said the band played at the Shelter during its early days — and rocked through favorites such as “Sugar, We’re Goin’ Down,” “Uma Thurman,” “Thanks fr th Mmrs,” “Centuries,” “Dance, Dance,” “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light Em Up)” and more.
Weezer’s hour — which followed the Interrupters’ short blast of ska-flavored frenzy — sported a few songs from its pair of 2021 albums “OK Human” and “Van Weezer” but mostly tripped down memory lane as well. With frontman Rivers Cuomo decked out like Ron Burgundy in gym class, complete with headband and tube socks, the group laid power chord-heavy alt.rock such as “Hash Pipe” and “Beverly Hills” next to more measured fare like “My Name is Jonas,” “Undone — The Sweater Song” and “Say It Ain’t So.” Its spookily faithful take on Toto’s “Africa” whipped up a frenzy among those who were a long way from being born when it first came out in 1982, while “Buddy Holly” had those same fans jumping along as confetti showered above the stadium floor.
All told, Hella Mega was a welcome and refreshing respite from the reality outside Comerica’s walls. And when Green Day’s Armstrong sang “I hope you had the time of your life” during the evening-ending “Good Riddance,” it had a different resonance than normal but still reflected exactly how everyone in the stadium was feeling at that moment.

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