It’s been seven years since I first heard Green Day’s American Idiot. That’s seven years for it to change your life, find your place, fall in love, break up, discover your true friends and start living in the real world.
But ‘seven years have gone so fast’ and in that time, I had begun to forget the thing that had made such an undeniable impact on my then 15 year old self.
I’m not a theatre goer, so at 8pm sharp when the curtains went down, just as my ticket said they would, I found myself balancing on the end of my seat, legs crossed nervously, wondering what the hell to expect.
And honestly, it was hard to stay sat on that seat, let alone project any quiet audience etiquette. Is it appropriate theatre behaviour to sing over the cast? Oh well, what’s done is done.
It was mesmerising. From the moment the flashing TV sets that pulsed images of post 9/11 America appeared to the sound of the opening chords of American Idiot, I felt alive.
For years Green Day have faced a wave of criticism and lost fans to the notion that they sold out with the release of their revolutionary 2004 album, saturated in political commentary yet dripping with number one hit potential that would later sell out Milton Keyne’s Bowl.
Don’t get me wrong, for some musos, I completely understood. This may have seemed like a curve too much for life-long fans and the popularity that arose from this new look Green Day may have become off-putting to some who seem to believe popularity equals worthless.
But tonight made me view that entire album in a completely different light. Those songs were MADE for a musical. Listening to the original recordings on the drive home, I could suddenly see and hear exactly where dialogue belonged, where a scene had changed and where a guy was supposed to jump on a plinth and shout ‘the representative from California has the floor!’
Rock and roll spontaneity isn’t something that you can choreograph but somehow the performance oozed of raw energy and angst that made me feel like I had stepped into an underground rock venue not the traditional auditorium of the Palace Theatre.
I was drawn into the lives of self-proclaimed ‘Idiot’ Johnny and his equally misguided friends who find themselves thrown into a world of girls, drugs, politics and consequences.
There’s something strangely life affirming about watching a production based on a bunch of kids in baggy jeans and an unapologetic amount of eyeliner. Getting sucked into that rock and roll mentality that there’s a common fear we’re all being forced to forget, really makes you wonder why you gave in to put on that suit and tie today instead of picking up your guitar.
Hearing those songs that I had for so long held so close to my heart as belonging to a time when I realised who I was or who I thought I was as a teenager, made me feel like the world had come full circle, almost as though the music I had been rejected for had finally been embraced. Or better yet, like that scene had taken over an established venue to proudly stick out like a Reebok Classic in a mosh pit and show non-believers a new form of Dirty Dancing.
To me the show was about youth, making mistakes, falling in love, breaking up, discovering your true friends and finding your place in the world.
American Idiot did its job. Seven years have certainly gone so fast.