How ironic that punk - a genre of music characterized by its rebellious rejection of society's rules - is arguably the most rigorously defined. Ask any 10 fans what punk music is and you'll probably get twelve different definitions. And any musician daring enough to use the word "punk" when describing their work is bound to spark a massive debate. Avril Lavigne was unanimously ridiculed for using a "sk8er punk" image to sell her vacuous teen pop and Blink 182 are angrily rejected by purists, but everyone pretty much agreed that Green Day were the real deal, whether they liked them or not.
Until recently, that is. With 2004's American Idiot, Green Day achieved more mainstream success than some punk die-hards were comfortable with, and, as if to add insult to injury, they supported the album with a huge tour, its high point being two sold out shows in Milton-Keynes, England, where they played in front of 65 000 adoring fans each night, the most a single punk act has ever attracted.
The new edition of Bullet in a Bible is a CD/DVD combo that documents these two performances. The DVD contains all the music on the CD, as well as interviews and backstage footage of the band fooling around. It's all a bit self indulgent, but their stage performance is so electrifying you'll probably forgive their obviously monstrous rock star egos.
Old favourites like "Basket Case" and "Longview" are there, but the focus is understandably on material from "American Idiot". The concert starts with the anthemic title track, which the enormous audience responds to by instantly going mental. Next up is "Jesus of Suburbia", an ambitious nine and a half minute suite which makes you realise that Green Day don't really care whether you think they're punk or not. Other highlights are the old school "St Jimmy" and the pounding "Hitchin' a Ride".
Green Day's performance is thoughtfully choreographed (sorry to disappoint those who think they make it all up as they go along) and professionally polished - perhaps a bit too polished for more hard-core punk fans.
But whether or not Green Day have sold out by taking punk out of dingy bars and into massive stadiums is irrelevant. This is fantastic entertainment, and since Green Day haven't said anything about coming to South Africa, "Bullet in a Bible" is an essential stocking filler for the neo post punk in your life.- Chris McEvoy
WHAT OTHER CRITICS SAID
They're spectacular and just about flawless. - Tony Pascarella for www.thetrades.com
Green Day weren't necessarily punk in the first place anyway, if you want punk go listen to "Sex Pistols" or "The Offspring" - "John" - reader reviewer on www.amazon.com
Once a snotty-nosed, potty-mouthed trio of Oakland, CA-area punks who first honed their craft at the famed 924 Gilman Street venue, Green Day has transformed itself into arguably the biggest and best live band on the planet. - Jim Harrington for www.livedaily.com
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