On Saturday 1st June 2013, I was woken up by my mum asking if I wanted to go and see Green Day the Emirates Stadium with my sister. Turns out she had a couple of her friends drop out and had a spare ticket. So I sleepily turned around and said something along the lines of “Urrrm…kay…cool…urmmmm…ZZZZZ.”
Finally coming to my senses I got up and ready to head out and took the train up to London Victoria with my sister, met two of her friends and took the underground over to the Emirates. Already we’d been seeing punks of all ages sporting mohawks, crazy coloured hair and band tshirts, as well as a decent number of Green Day tops. It was a good feeling, I’d been out of the music scene for a while and it felt nice to be around people with the same tastes as me again.
Move forward an hour or two and there we were, standing between the sound tent and the stage. A decent position to catch everything going on, although I took the chance to mock my sister and her friends for being so short that they could see hardly anything.
All Time Low came on out and rocked, I’ve never listened to them before and they had some catchy pop-punky-rock tracks that I liked. I enjoyed them a lot.
Kaiser Chiefs were next, and that was a blast. I haven’t listened to much of their stuff since the ‘Employment‘ album came out, except for the Ruby single, and although they played a bunch of new stuff they still blasted out the classics that we all love; I Predict a Riot, Modern Way, Everyday I Love You Less and Less and Oh My God.
Things were going good. The support bands had been excellent and got everyone revved up for Green Day to come on. While they were prepping the stage the PA was playing some tunes, including Ace of Spades by Motorhead and so on. Suddenly, Queen’s epic masterpiece Bohemian Rhapsody came over the stereo system. The mood changed just as quickly, it had been several thousand people standing in the bowl of this enormous stadium each carrying their own conversations but as one, as the immortal lines ‘Is this the real life? Is this fantasy?‘ came out, everyone began to sing along. It started off quiet, like the song itself as people began to sense what was happening, but as the song picked up tempo and the crowd picked up the atmosphere soon everyone was singing along as loud as they could.
It was a phenomenal communal experience, to share the love of such a wonderful song with thousands of complete strangers and feel at least some connection to them. Words do little to describe the goosebumps brought forth from such a powerful thing as the spontaneous connection of what must have been tens of thousands of people in song.
The sun was shining, the mood was great, everyone was smiling and everyone felt great. It was the single most mind-dazzlingly unprompted few minutes of my life and it made me incredibly happy to have lucked into being there that day.
Green Day went on to blow everyone away with a 30-song set that didn’t just cover their new material (which I haven’t had the opportunity to listen to) but also play some absolute classics. Not just their hits from American Idiot (which they made awesome) but also loads of their best tracks from Nimrod, Dookie, Warning and 1,039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hour. It was absolutely one of the best gigs that I have ever been to. Granted, I haven’t been to many but even from my experience, no one from Fall Out Boy to the Red Hot Chili Peppers could ever have rocked as hard as Green Day that night. The interaction with the crowd, the love coming from both the stage and the stadium, the pure unadulterated joy of rock music were unparalleled at any other live music event that I’ve been at.
I feel privileged to have lucked into going there that day. I didn’t think when I was being woken up that I was waking up to one of the most memorable days of my life.
Cool attendee Georgie Gwyther caught (almost) the entire thing on her camera and it was a wonderful place to have been. For reference, my sister, her friends, my cousin (who I came to meet us), his friends and I were situated about 2/3rds of the way between the tent you can see and the point of the ‘V’ in the crowd. Enjoy.
Oh, and it turns out that Green Day broke the record attendance for the Emirates stadium. Nice one, boys.