Before he played a single note, Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong was in control of the Qwest Center Omaha.
“Get off your ass right now!” Armstrong shouted at the crowd. “This is not (expletive) television right now. This is live. This is in the moment. This is right (expletive) now. Are you with me? Are you ready?”
Armstrong preached a sort of rock 'n' roll revival, leading chants and calling the crowd to be saved.
Shouts to “get those hands in the air” brought about a sea of waving arms, and calls of “Omaha” elicited screams.
The band started the show with a barrage of songs off its new album, “21st Century Breakdown,” also working in a few hits like “Holiday,” “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” and “Hitchin' a Ride.”
Armstrong went on a little rant while the rest of his band started into “The Static Age,” a song about media and technology.
“Put away the cell phones. No cameras. This is our time right now. No television, no computers, no school, no work.”
Their songs may have taken on a more political and socially aware tone over the last few years, but drummer Tré Cool, bassist Mike Dirnt and Armstrong didn't take themselves too seriously.
For “King for a Day,” the whole band donned goofy hats. Among them: a pirate hat, a witch's hat, cat ears and a policeman's cap. Later, Armstrong brought out a water gun and squirted the crowd. He also used a leaf blower to spray toilet paper into the crowd and an air-powered T-shirt gun that he used to fire shirts across the arena.
Every so often, the group launched into cover tunes. They played the intros to “Iron Man” by Black Sabbath and “Rock You Like a Hurricane” by the Scorpions and a full verse of “You Really Got Me” by the Kinks. They also did a full version of “Shout” by the Isley Brothers and worked in parts of “Earth Angel,” “Break on Through (To the Other Side)” and “Free Fallin'.”
Fans at the show seemed a dedicated bunch. No one headed early to their cars to beat traffic, and fans screamed out the words to nearly every song.
To be certain, their dedication was rewarded. Armstrong brought several people onstage to sing songs, spray the squirt gun and goof around. During “Longview,” a man, a woman and a young boy all took a verse of the song, while Armstrong ran around the stage and played guitar.
The crowd was a mix of young and old. Some apparently longtime fans showed up, as well as a lot of young children and teenagers, accompanied by parents.
While the show included nearly every song from “21st Century Breakdown,” the band still played all of its old hits, including “Welcome to Paradise,” “When I Come Around” and “Longview.”
A set-closing encore featured the hits “American Idiot” and “Minority.” To finish the night, Armstrong strutted onstage alone with an acoustic guitar to perform “Last Night on Earth” and “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life).” The last song brought a huge response from fans, who sang every word.
The crowd went wild whenever Armstrong yelled “Omaha” or “Nebraska” or “Cornhuskers,” which came about every other sentence. He also worked the local geography into several songs, subbing “Nebraska” or “Omaha” for other lyrics.
Armstrong also reminisced about passing through Omaha during the band's early days, on a tour to support its 1994 album, “Dookie.”
“We played at this bowling alley. Was that the Ranch Bowl?” he said to cheers, recalling the former bowling alley and rock club on South 72nd Street.
“Where else can you play at a kick-ass rock club and work on your spare in the meantime?”
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