Show Review: Live 105’s Not So Silent Night 2011 at Oracle Arena, Friday, 12/9/11

by Dakin Hardwick on December 10, 2011

You know what’s great about living on Oakland, CA? You never know when you are going to end up at a Green Day concert. This was the second time that I saw Green Day play without even knowing that they were going to be performing until early evening that day. I highly recommend keeping your ears open fellow bay area folks, because these are their best sets. And, anyone that made it out to Live 105’s Not So Silent Night were treated to the best.

If you were married to Gwen Stefani, you would never miss a workout, either

Bush

The last time I encountered Bush was in 1995, at another Live 105 sponsored show. Did I see them? No. I spent there entire set waiting in line for an egg roll. Long story. There was a really cute girl involved. I was 16. Enough said. Anyways, 16 years later, I finally saw this band. They have also been off the radar for a number of years, although you wouldn’t have know that by this hit laden set. Frontman Gavin Rossdale is looking fitter than ever, and the whole band played with the energy of  a band half their age. Rossdale even sang an entire song while walking around the perimeter of the venue. The women of the venue followed him when they weren’t melting at his feet. The only misstep of the show was when they slipped a few verses of Talking Heads’ “Once In A Lifetime” in the middle of “Everything Zen.” That was just plain awkward.

Florence + The Machine

I will openly admit to being a little late boarding the Florence train. I gave her first record a few listens, and then Marina & The Diamonds came out and, well, I just liked it more. I know that the two aren’t comparable aside from the name, but that’s neither here nor there at this point. I man has only got so much free time, and I chose to devote that time elsewhere. After seeing her live in this setting where she should have been far out of place, my mind was blown. Her band, which included a harpist and back up singers in addition to the traditional rock band set up of bass, drums, guitars, and keyboards, was one of the tightest machines (pardon the pun) that I have heard in a long time. Yes, some of the more delicate portions of her songs may have been lost in the arena set up, but it really didn’t matter. Her rich, deep, soulful voice was magnificent. And, although it took her about half of the set to actually start moving around, once she got that groove going, it was impressive. By the time she led the band through her big, breakout hit, “Dog Days Are Over,” she had the crowd bouncing & dancing up a storm.

Mumford & Sons

The rise of Mumford & Sons may be the most unexpected pop music success story in a very long time. This folk quartet from the UK has managed to become one of the increasingly rarer bands to go platinum in the US, and a lot of their popularity stems from traditional, mainstream rock radio airplay. The fact that so many programmers were willing to take a risk on this group may come from their spirited live sets, if their NSSN performance has anything to do with that.

They opened their set with “Lover’s Eyes,” with the entire arena completely dark. Only a handful of small safety lights were up, creating a spooky mood to it all. Then, the lights went up and the band dove into the high energy, bluegrass number “Roll Away Your Stone,” which got the crowd into a steady pogo that continued, without fail, until the end of the set. Although the bulk of the set was played by the Mumford & Sons core of Marcus Mumford on guitar, mandolin, and bass drum, Ben Lovett on keyboard & accordion, Winston Marshall on banjo, and Ted Dwane on upright bass, they had unnamed players coming and going throughout the set. There was plenty of fiddle, but even more interesting was when they balanced the set out with horns, and even the rare drum kit. These sounds are what make them more than just another retro leaning country act.

They also pulled a very risky move: Played 3 brand new songs right in a row. Two of these songs featured band members playing the full drum kit. One song had no banjo part, and even an electric guitar was played, in what was the strongest new song. There were layers of feedback dripping beneath Mumford’s expert finger picking, and it was supplemented nicely by the horns and fiddle, turning into the most Neil Young flavored moment of the set. Of course, they closed with the huge hit “The Cave,” and, to my surprise, and huge amount of folks leaving right after this song. Why was that a surprise? Because of the band closing out the show.

Green Day

It’s not often that a band can play an arena on only a few hours notice. It’s even less often when you can get one of the few stadium-sized bands currently playing to show up so quickly. But, there aren’t very many Green Days out there. So, yes, Green Day aren’t playing this show completely cold. In fact, they’ve been playing secret gigs all over the place since September, including an instore at 1-2-3-4 Go Records in Oakland, and popping out after a Ty Segall show in San Francisco. This show, however, was nothing like those shows. In fact, this show was nothing like any Green Day show since the 90’s.

I knew something special was afoot when the roadies set up the gear. The stage was amazingly bare: Two microphones, two amps, one drum kit. No confetti canons, no keyboards, none of the trappings of the type of show Green Day are doing these days. It was just Mike Dirnt, Tre Cool, and Billie Joe Armstrong. The last time these guys played a show as the core three may have been the Insomniac tour. Armstrong and Dirnt had matching died blonde hair that was spiked as very high as it could go, while Cool was dressed in his usual dapper best: slacks, short sleaved black dress shirt and tie. And, although their look may have changed dramatically over the years, none of them have aged a day since 1993.

And, in addition to the band looking like they had in 1993, they also sounded like the did in 1993. They opened with “Welcome To Paradise,” a track that was originally released on 1992’s Kerplunk. The rest of the set followed suit, with the band pumping out hit after 1990’s pop punk hit. No ballads. No mini rock operas. Just pure, simple, 2 1/2 minute long rock songs.

Billie Joe Armstrong explained how they ended up agreeing to this set in typical Green Day fashion. He said, “So we got this call from Live 105. They said that Jane’s Addiction had to cancel due to a family situation. It looks like they called the first band they could think of that lived 10 minutes away, and here we are.” They then pulled out an vamped out version on “Hitchin’ A Ride” that stretched itself out for about 5 minutes. Armstrong called out Florence Welch from Florence + The Machine to come on stage for a hug, who was intense and dignified during her band’s set, but was ecstatic as a Bieber fan when she got called out by Armstrong, and looked like she was about to both melt and cry tears of joy during the embrace.

The crowd, which was, sadly, only about 2/3 full during this set, was supercharged with energy. There were no less then 5 different pits going at once, while not a single person was seated in the bleachers during the band’s set. They kept the whole show old school, with the only modern day Green Day track being the set closing “American Idiot,” which could have easily fit on any of their classic records.

As per the usual, Green Day triumphed at this hometown gig. They proved that they still have the ability to be a snotty little punk band, and the fans that switched out their plans and got last minute tickets to this gig were treated to one of the most memorable sets of their lives.

Setlist:

Welcome to Paradise

2000 Light Years Away

Geek Stink Breath

Hitchin’ a Ride

Nice Guys Finish Last

Burnout

Metal Jam:
Iron Man
Rock & Roll
Highway To Hell

Brain Stew

Jaded

Longview

Basket Case

She

When I Come Around

American Idiot

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All photos by the great Paige Parsons. She is a genius.

 

 

 

 

 

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