A week before his infamous onstage guitar-smashing rant at the iHeartRadio Festival in Las Vegas, Green Day singer Billie Joe Armstrong oversaw an epic 40-song set at New York’s Irving Plaza that amazed and delighted fans and critics.
The two-and-a-half hour show included hits, rare tracks, teasing bits of classic rock nuggets from Led Zeppelin and Lynyrd Skynyrd and a number of songs from the first in a planned trilogy of albums, ¡Uno!
Because they’ve had to cancel gigs due to Armstrong’s rehab, on Thursday, the band posted the final 20 minutes from the Irving Plaza gig to keep fans’ appetites whetted for their live return. The third online peek at the show kicks off with the Dookie song “Burnout,” and includes a fan-assisted tumble through “Hitchin’ a Ride,” as well as the burners “She” and “American Idiot.”
In the footage, Armstrong appeared to be his usual head-shaking, lip-curling self, slashing down at his silver glitter guitar and snarling out the lyrics to “Ride” like a punk rock pirate as he exhorted the crowd to “hey hey” along. At one point he begged them to “be quiet,” but, of course, that did not happen.
“Do you want a f—ing party, or do you want a celebration?” he screamed during “Letterbomb,” informing the crowd, just after he jumped out into the mosh pit, that he was not after a party, but a celebration, because, after all, “you only live twice.”
After chugging through a sloppy “When I Come Around” and crowd-pleaser “She” the mini-set crashed to a close with “American Idiot.”
Spokespeople for Green Day have not revealed what is ailing Armstrong or how long he might be in treatment, but bassist Mike Dirnt said in a recent interview that the situation is pretty serious.
“Billie doesn’t take things lightly and he wouldn’t take rehab lightly, either,” Dirnt said in a new interview in Kerrang! magazine. “He’s in the middle of some really big things, but we’re going to pull through. It’s killing everyone. Green Day has never been a band that sits still, but sometimes you have to step back and let life go on rather than try to control everything.”
In an earlier interview, Dirnt said the hectic schedule to record and promote the band’s album trilogy may have contributed to Armstrong’s issues. Regardless of the causes, Dirnt said his #1 focus right now is making sure his longtime friend and bandmate gets well.
“I know that my friend’s life is in danger and that’s all I care about,” he said. “We’re brothers-in-arms waiting for Billie to return healthy, but we’re not going to force anything.”
Earlier this week, the band’s long-time producer and Warner Bros. Records chairman Rob Cavallo described Armstrong’s rehab stint as “no joke” and said it could put off more previously scheduled tour dates.
“His doctors are still evaluating,” Cavallo said. “All I can say is I don’t know if we’ll see him before or after Christmas. It’s basically undetermined when he’ll be back.”
Green Day made the announcement in late September that that singe Armstrong was seeking help with unspecified substance issues.
“Billie Joe is seeking treatment for substance abuse,” read a statement on their Facebook page. “We would like everyone to know that our set was not cut short by Clear Channel and to apologize to those we offended at the iHeartRadio Festival in Las Vegas. We regretfully must postpone some of our upcoming promotional appearances.”
Armstrong launched into a rant during Green Day’s September 21 performance at iHeartRadio after being told that the band needed to wrap up their set, shouting “I’m not f—ing Justin Bieber, you motherf—–s. You’ve got to be f—ing joking … I got one minute left.” Green Day then smashed their instruments before departing the stage. That came just after a concert cancellation in Italy after Armstrong was hospitalized. His bandmates would subsequently tell MTV News that he had “severe dehydration,” though he recovered in time to perform at the 2012 MTV Video Music Awards.
Following Armstrong’s hospitalization, the band canceled a series of promotional performances and on Monday they announced that they would have to pull out of a headline slot at the October 27 Voodoo Music + Arts Experience festival in New Orleans.