The Plans Begin
We’ve made it, the saga has reached it’s concluding stage, there’s just one more experience to get down on the page before that fateful week in June is laid to rest as a treasure trove of memorable experiences. When it comes to the planning of this final concert, I had the most time out of all of them to be prepared. It was November of 2016, I was recovering from being back to normal life after having the time of my life seeing EDEN again. That was my final big expense of the year, so my next port of call was to start saving money. Didn’t quite go to plan the first couple of paychecks as I ended up spending it on various stuff I wanted. Final week of November rolls around and I say to myself ‘Right, this is the week you start saving’. Couple hours later I saw an announcement that Greenday were going to be playing a massive concert in Dublin in June 2017 as part of their Revolution Radio tour and that tickets were going on sale that Friday. ‘The idea of saving money that week flew out the window. Friday morning December 2nd, 9 AM on the dot of general sale, I nabbed myself two tickets. No particular reason why, I had no idea who the second one would be going to, but I like to be prepared for unplanned variables. All I knew is this was going to be epic
Also acquiring a ticket was my friend John who I had invited to experience the concert with me. We were totally hyped for the year to start passing so that we could get around to June, though I did have a sneaking suspicion of just one thing that I’d have to set right if I was correct. A couple months after planning this epic concert, I was playing FIFA with John (Our typical hangout activity) when I decided to test him on just a little bit of trivia relating to our June plans. I thought I’d start it simple enough, so I just asked him to name their current album. When he looked lost for words, I’m pretty sure I actually face-palmed. I wasn’t expecting a masters degree in Greendayology or anything, but I thought knowing a tiny bit about the album which they were touring for might be kinda par for the course. John is a golfer, he might hate me less while reading this when he sees that term. Right let’s dart back to where we were. (Oh he’s a dart player too? And a lover of puns? I’m really covering my bases here. Don’t kill me John!). Anyway that wouldn’t do, so I started to incorporate their songs into our music-listening regime whilst kicking each other’s asses at FIFA, and the next time I quizzed him he was even able to name a song that wasn’t ‘Bang Bang’ or ‘Revolution Radio’ off the track-list so I was satisfied to continue at this point.
Crew of Two? Three’s Company
A month before the concert was due, I was hatching a couple different plans of what I might do with my spare ticket. The main thought that cropped up was to give it away. I was digging the idea, but then another thought crossed my mind. There was one person I could think of that would be the ideal candidate to join me and John on this adventure, and that was my friend Rebecca. I pitched the idea of going to the then sold-out Greenday concert with a free ticket, and the suggestion went down well. Thus, the plan was hatched. While we’re on the subject: little interesting back-story to how I properly became friends with Rebecca. When I was living in West Cork, my primary mode of transport between Cork City and Skibbereen was not the bus – God damn those fares are so so expensive it’s no wonder people in the countryside can feel trapped and isolated from the city, it costs too much to even travel there for the day. No, what I would always do if I needed to travel was hitch. Classic thumb at the side of the road and off we go. West Cork is good for that as the whole route is linear and stuff.
One morning I was walking to the spot to hitch from Skibbereen and some cars were passing, so I figured why not, I’ll stick my thumb out next to me while I walk to the spot in-case anyone wants to stop here. 2 seconds later, there’s a car stopped next to me already. Alrighty then, I open up the door, and inside is Rebecca. We’ve seen each other around Skibbereen enough at this point to do the whole recognizing each other bit, with the mind whirring in the background ‘What level of acquaintance do we have actually? Are we FB friends, not FB friends. Wait, what’s her name even. Oh crap’ Anyway we’re chatting away and nobody is name-dropping, and I’m changing tracks on her phone on the dashboard unit. We’re maybe half way through the trip when Rebecca turns and says “I got your name wrong when you got into the car, didn’t I?” Praise be the lawd, situation saved. I hadn’t even heard her say a name when I got in so I enquired “And what did you call me?”. “Daniel” she said back. With that we cleared the air, re-acquainted ourselves formally, and continued on our merry ways. Rebecca commutes that journey regularly so after that point I utilized a trip or few more, in return for the service I would man the track-list on her phone so that she could drive safely. Thus I knew we both shared good music tastes, and Greenday seemed like the best gesture to make to thank for all the lifts provided!
Day 6 of Summer Madness, Captains log earthdate 290617: My legs are still holding me up, spirits remain above intergalactic levels, and we’re maintaining a steady course towards the last hoorah! Rendezvous is set in Cork to meet my crew for this mission. Briefing on their past exploits reveals Rebecca has gone to massive Ed Sheeran concert this year and has a confirmed solid rap sheet going back. John’s record just has Jay-Z underlined with a question mark next to it, field operatives are advised to dismiss this as an anomaly. Captain Seán, signing off. Anyyyyway, with that little concept piece out of the way, let’s carry on shall we. Me, John, and Rebecca convened in Cork City on the morning of the concert. As I arrive at this point of the blog post writing, John has just expressed his desire in a message that I describe our McDonald’s breakfast in great and vast detail. To that I say: No. We got McDonald’s takeaway and carried on. The bus to Dublin we planned to get ended up being too full from the people queued for it, so we had to wait an hour for the next one. That one we did manage to board thankfully, and away we went. The concert was in the same place as Walking on Cars was, at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham, so this time around I had a good sense for the timeline for the afternoon. We got pizza for lunch at Papa John’s, then I led us on the long walk out to the concert grounds.
M E R C H
Same spot as the Saturday prior, we zoomed straight to the merch counter. Rebecca had said she was interested to experience my merch-acquisitions in person, and I reckon I did not disappoint. But my god was it expensive, and there was quite a crowd milling in front of it, so it was a bit of a squeeze. That said, with the space I did have, I conducted that merch stand like an orchestra bent to my will, each wave of my hand a crescendo that emptied the vestiges of my wallets contents. For the amount of money I spent for this haul, compared to what I could achieve for that much money at a lesser concerts merch, I was not overly thrilled about the expenditure. That said, I got myself a Greenday Hoodie, Greenday Shirt, a set of 4 Greenday Pins, and a Rancid shirt to top it all off. A quick switcheroo and I was ready for the concert, decked out in merch. John also got some merch, including the same hoodie as me. Rebecca did not seem to like the pins, considering them to be quite freaky. I like them though!
The crowd was already large from the very early stages, so we did our best to get as far forward as possible, and ended up in a decent enough spot. Props to whoever did the playlist for this concert, it wasn’t as tragically lackluster as the one I had experienced 6 days prior, so it had that going for it. To kick off the evening before Greenday was support Rancid. Going back decades alongside Greenday, Rancid are a hugely successful American Punk Rock band. Their participation on the Revolution Radio tour also accompanied a new album release from them, their 9th Studio album Trouble Maker which was freshly released in June. Unlike Greenday, I didn’t have a history of listening to Rancid way back through the years, I had only really discovered them because of their spot on the tour and started listening then. I definitely think it’s a shame I didn’t discover them earlier, but what better an opportunity than to see them in Concert. They were awesome to see and really got the crowd going, even orchestrating some mosh pits from their vantage point up on high. There also seemed to be some pretty hardcore Rancid fans in the crowd, as from the very first song there were people near us who were belting back their lyrics word for word. I also found front-man Tim Armstrong’s guitar to be pretty awesome and interesting, having been the first time I had seen someone play a left-handed model of guitar. It took me a moment to figure it out when I saw it, with it’s overbearing size and low hanging way of him holding it first to attract my attention, before I realized that it was inverted to play left-handed. All in all, a solid opening to the evening to get things going and one I enjoyed very much
After Rancid departed the stage, there was some time in between performances to wait before Greenday would come on. And I certainly have to hand it to Greenday, their years of vast experience really has allowed them to create one helluva show. Before anybody had even taken to the stage, a soft instrumental for Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody was played out on the PA system, and sure enough thousands upon thousands of people reacted in just about the only way anyone would – Breaking out into an entire full-length rendition of the song in unison. It was quite magical, with just the subtle hint of light-work from the stage lights joining in to the song. Nothing over-stated, nothing forced, the crowd had a voice and that voice was ready to rock. I guess I must have been out of the loop a little on how Greenday concerts go these days, as I actually didn’t know (Or perhaps knew and forgot) about their Pink Bunny mascot and his antics. I certainly knew after the concert. Out onto the stage came the eccentric Pink Bunny figure, the ultimate hype-man-… Er bunny – running about, cart-wheeling, giving birth to mini pink bunny toys that they had been selling as merch (€30 I could not afford at this point in time) and chucking them out into the crowd, and generally employing as much physical comedy as it could before it was dragged away off stage by ‘security’.
Of course, that could only mean one thing. The main event was about to begin. Greenday came out, and the crowd went wild. We also managed to ride a crowd surge forwards to get a teeny bit closer than we had been. It was fairly difficult staying the three of us together, often-times we were cut apart within vision at least and reconnected throughout the night. They opened with ‘Know Your Enemy’, and though it seemed his voice was a tad bit quiet as if he had nearly lost it, he still rocked it like an absolute legend. It didn’t take them long to reach the song ‘Bang Bang’, and I was curious to see would they slip their political chant into the performance. I had been telling John and Rebecca about it as I had seen videos of it from the previous year. Sure enough, out came the chant ‘No Trump! No KKK! No Fascist USA!’ on loop. Certainly Billie-Joe had a lot to say on that matter among other things, as they would often take asides to chat to the crowd, sometimes with a mid-song break, switching up the tempo of the evening. They also utilized the crowd a lot to hype the path back into songs during these lulls by having them chant ‘Ayyyyyyy Ooooooh’s louder and louder. That was good fun, though I think potentially played out towards the end in my opinion as it was done quite a number of times. The mosh pits throughout the evening were a spectacle to behold – And sometimes to narrowly avoid. At one point I was stood in a 3 person wide passage between two mosh pits either side, with John and Rebecca pushed forward from my position. It was all good though and I managed to get back to them once the pits had dissipated a bit.
It was a concert unlike any other I had witnessed, and definitely felt like a huge amount of work and effort had been put in to craft the experience. The lights, the pyrotechnics, the back-drops behind the band of which they had a few, were all amazing and on point. Their set list was an amazing trip through Greenday history, going all the way back through a number of songs from their oldest albums right up to Revolution Radio. Among other things they had costume dress-ups for some songs, hand-cannons to fire out merch giveaways to the crowd (Nope, didn’t get any myself. Shame that.) and brought up a few different people throughout the night to experience a few moments on stage before sending them out onto a run-off catwalk to crowd surf away again. That must have been such an exhilarating experience for those people. At one point he asked if anyone could play guitar, and he eventually settled for someone towards the front right, a 14 year old girl who I believe was named Jennifer Lee. He played guitar with her for a couple minutes, before telling her that the guitar she was holding in her hands was hers to keep now. Many aww’s were expressed in the crowd at the gesture. Like all great things, the time eventually came when the concert had to end, after of course an awesome encore. They stripped back the sound to Billie with his acoustic and he performed songs such as 21 Guns and Ordinary World.
Then began the mass exodus, a painstakingly slow process of emptying the packed out grounds through tiny exit points. With arms linked and spirits through the roof, we eventually made it back out into the streets. We weren’t staying overnight this time, instead we had opted to get a late night bus back to Cork after the concert, and thus ended that saga. I have to say I am so glad I went through with every part of the whole Summer Madness experience, it was such an amazing time jam-packed with experiences and just living life a bit wildly. And expensively. But we’ll ignore that part. That’s all for now folks, I’ll be back Thursday with a very different type of post, and remember, keep on Merchin’!
AMENDMENT! Edited one hour after release, I forgot to add one piece of merch. When I bought my ticket to go to the concert, I ordered the Revolution Radio album on CD as well, so for your viewing pleasure, here it is now!