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MUSIC REVIEW

Green Day returns to punk basics at Comcast Center

By Marc Hirsh
Globe Correspondent / August 18, 2010

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For as much as it seems that Green Day has progressed beyond (or, depending on your perspective, strayed from) its mud-flinging, poop-joke-making, shorts-punk origins into a career path of concept albums and Broadway musicals, Monday’s Comcast Center show went a long way toward reestablishing the band’s punk bona fides. Even with its three core members (augmented by two guitarists and a keyboardist/saxophonist) all pushing 40, Green Day hasn’t seemed to mellow with age, playing for just under three hours without betraying any fatigue.

More importantly, Green Day proved itself still capable of doing what punk bands are supposed to do, which is speak for and to youth culture. “Are We the Waiting,’’ “Give Me Novacaine,’’ and “21 Guns’’ made adolescent turmoil feel like Us vs. Them, with a specific focus on the fact that there’s an Us, not just a You.

There was a small but steady trickle of audience members onto the stage all night, one of whom sang “Longview’’ in a faceless green bodysuit and was rewarded with Billie Joe Armstrong’s guitar. And their devotion went well beyond the hits and recent material, as evidenced by the throng of kids onstage who knew all the words to the early “2000 Light Years Away.’’

But despite its mantle of generational spokesmen, Green Day avoided the plague of self-seriousness. Everybody donned silly headgear for the breakneck and goofy “King for a Day,’’ and biting songs like “Holiday,’’ “American Idiot,’’ and the slashing stomp of “East Jesus Nowhere’’ were exciting, rather than turgid hectoring.

The concert’s most telling song might have been “Know Your Enemy.’’ On stage, it was never more clear that it was nothing more than a single riff repeated ad infinitum, and it never mattered less. Green Day had enough sharp fire to put it over without a hitch.

Fueled by a hardcore righteousness, opening act AFI had a dramatic intensity that resulted in a broken microphone and stand but didn’t preclude a sense of humor, as evidenced by the gorilla-suited man who pretended to wrestle pompadoured glam-punk frontman Davey Havok.

Marc Hirsh can be reached at officialmarc@gmail.com

GREEN DAY

With AFI

At: Comcast Center, Mansfield, Monday