'Nobody likes you, everyone left you,
they're all off without you, having fun'

Green Day's American Idiot -
Hammersmith Apollo, London, 8th December 2012

Before I start I should point out that I do genuinely like Green Day. Just thought I should mention that.

A shade over 8 years ago Green Day released the album that would make them truly bona-fide proper mega super rock stars capable of stadium filling and shifting units of records into the double figure millions. Now admittedly, this was not new to Green Day. A decade before they had released Dookie which, again, sold fucking ridiculous numbers of records but was a whole different kettle of fish all together. Whereas Dookie was predominantly about wanking, American Idiot was a much more grown up affair that concerned post 9/11 hysteria, drug addiction and all that kind of bollocks that every American band has been bleating on about ever since. Because it's fucking important man. Like, dude. Don't watch TV. And, like, drugs are bad mmmm'kay?

The stage version of American Idiot arrives in Blighty about three years after the first previews were performed in America. Given that time and opportunity for re-writes, you would suspect that they would have had time to cobble together some semblance of a coherent storyline. Well they didn't. This is the story: There are three friends. One goes to the army and then comes back. One goes to the city and takes loads of drugs and then doesn't. One sits at home and watches TV. That is the entirety of the story. Sounds simple doesn't it? Yet, for anyone who is unfamiliar with the American Idiot album, this storyline is completely unintelligible. Because it's all done at a million miles an hour with the absolute barely most miniscule of dialogue to expand upon the story. And as for trying to work out what's going on from listening to the lyrics, well good luck. Don't even try. And everybody looks the same. And sounds the same. And basically 'is' the same. The boys all look and sound and act like Green Day fans. You know, the atypical Green Day fan. The picture you have inside your head right now. Yes, just like that. And the girls look and sound and act like their female equivalent. Got it yet? Yep, there you go.

So what's good about it? Well, the design and set itself are visually very impressive. There's always something going on and the cast interact well with what they've got. It's all a bit ZOO TV with lots of video screen and projections going on. The choreography of the ensemble dancers is actually brilliant. It can't be easy to choreograph dance to what is essentially a rock show. The band, who remain onstage throughout the entire show, are excellent as well. It's often the actual singing that lets things down a bit. There's a bit too much 'lead character picks up acoustic guitar and destroys song' in there. This is not a show that requires you to be a brilliant singer. It requires you to shout a lot and run up and down staircases and scaffolds.

Bizarrely though I did actually enjoy it all. It was a bit car crash TV. It kind of felt like watching something awful happening and thinking 'no, this must be okay, someone would have stopped it by now otherwise'. Perhaps the most terrifying part is the ultimate finale when, having confused the shit out of you for 90 minutes, the entire cast appears after their bow armed with acoustic guitars. All of them. Like an angry army of hippies, to destroy a completely unrelated song from the Green Day back catalogue, Good Riddance (Time of Your Life). For no reason whatsoever. So on the evidence of this and a trio of dreadful albums put out this year, it's no wonder that Billie Joe cracked and went mentalcakes.

Honestly, I like Green Day. I really do. Maybe that's why I left feeling so incredibly disappointed.

Richard Bull