Green Day Tone Things Down (But Keep It Hot) At American Music Awards

Band's performance of '21 Guns' features only a little pyro.

[artist id="988"]Green Day[/artist] took things down a peg during their performance of "21 Guns" on Sunday (November 22) night's American Music Awards ... which, for them, meant only using a little pyro.

Yes, this was Green Day as understated as they can be: Billie Joe Armstrong strumming the opening chords of the song on a black acoustic, the entire band (which now includes Armstrong, bassist Mike Dirnt, drummer Tre Cool and three backing musicians), clad in black. It's a fairly somber song, after all.

But, again, this is Green Day, a band who seems to delight in positively pummeling their audiences with pyrotechnics, so we still got a shower of sparks during the chorus, a massive video screen showing glass shattering and bullets whizzing, and — of course — a big-time explosion during the tune's stop-start middle.

Armstrong — hair black, eyes ringed in mascara — sang the chorus with his hands held aloft (and ignored the higher range for a more plaintive, serious tenor), Cool bashed away at his kit and Dirnt even struck a pose or two, but all in all, this was a very stripped-down, very personal performance, and the crowd ate it up.

And then, at performance's end, Armstrong held his hands high, thrust his guitar into the air and shouted, "Los Angeles!" as the cheers grew louder. Seems that even when they're stripping things down, Green Day are still plenty massive.