Wake Judge Adam Arseneau up when September ends.
"Music to me is the air that I breathe. It's the blood that pumps
through my veins that keeps me alive.
Admittedly a little more "compact disc"-y a product than we normally review 'round these parts, Green Day: Bullet in a Bible does, in fact, come with a DVD, which more than qualifies it for inclusion. One part live concert CD, one part DVD, Bullet in a Bible captures the high-energy band at the height of its 2005 World Tour and, boy howdy, if you have ever questioned this band's continued relevance in popular culture, check out the absolutely silly amount of people crammed into The National Bowl in Milton Keynes to see them play.
In what could very well be the largest punk rock show ever (and I mean ever), more than 130,000 people elbowed and crammed into each other to see Green Day play over the span of two days in the midsized English town (a crowd of almost the population of the town itself was in attendance). As the camera pans over the opening few seconds of the concert, Billie Joe conducts the opening stabs of the theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey with his upraised arms, a seemingly self-indulgent bit of arrogance until the camera reveals exactly how many people are in attendance. Bullet in a Bible is an incredible DVD if only to bear witness to the gargantuan magnitude of a modern-day Green Day concert. Trust me: you cannot believe it until you see it.
The material featured on this live concert DVD/CD is heavily slanted towards Green Day's new material from its freakishly popular album, American Idiot, which never did much for me personally, but seems to be doing for a new generation of punk kids what Dookie did for my generation 10 years ago. You got to hand it to Green Day…more than 15 years of drunken antics, practical jokes, power chords, and punk rock, and they manage to re-invent themselves again and again…with the same material. Geniuses, they are.
The DVD (and CD) contains the following tracks:
• "American Idiot"
Having enjoyed Green Day for more than a decade, I freely and readily admit that their multi-platinum, Grammy award-winning album, American Idiot, lost my interest like a kid loses his parents at an amusement park; this is to say, almost immediately. Bullet in a Bible therefore becomes slightly more difficult to digest for this reviewer, given the preferential track treatment to the band's new radio-friendly material, but such is the way of things. After all, in 15 years of increasing record sales and notoriety, Green Day has managed to turn themselves into a real, honest-to-goodness band, full of keyboard players, horns, and additional behind-the-scenes guitar players, which is a far cry from their angst-ridden three-piece roots.
This kind of metamorphosis was probably inevitable. As the band progressed in musical development, dropping the "punk" moniker to describe their music, so changed the complexity of their songs and increasing production values. Watching Bullet in a Bible, one cannot help realizing that Green Day is so far beyond its humble roots playing tiny clubs in Oakland, California, as to be laughable. The sheer spectacle of its concerts is like some bizarre parody of the band they once were. They still play the same three chord songs just like back in the Lookout! Records day, but on such a grandiose theatrical scale as to be absurd.
Case in point, the stage setup is quite fantastic: large, elaborate, and full of fireworks, exactly like a good rock concert should be. Add to this the elaborate costumed antics of the band members (and their fantastic taste in silly hats) and the performance is extremely entertaining…it looks and sounds fantastic. The transfer is quite respectable, with decent black levels, and good color representation and detail, though may be edited too kinetically in that MTV style for some viewers to enjoy. The camera (like the band) rarely sits still, jumping between lighting flares, various film stocks, and alternating angles, interjected with some backstage antics (usually naked), the result of which is more a music video than a live concert, but damn entertaining nonetheless. From start to finish, the DVD simply rocks. Watching a hundred thousand teenage kids screaming out the lyrics to "Longview," which debuted on the charts the same year most of these kids were born, is, to say the least, a surreal experience. It staggers the mind.
Both a stereo and a Dolby Digital 5.1 track are available, and I found myself preferring the straight stereo track. Though quieter, the audio seems more accurately represented, mixed and balanced the way a good concert should be: good bass response, clear vocals, etc. Throw on the surround channel, and the treble increases noticeably and the guitar drowns out every other instrument in a tidal wave of noise. The surround track is serviceable, but I wouldn't use it given how good the stereo track sounds.
The only true downside to Bullet in a Bible (for me, personally) is the song selections…far too much American Idiot and mamsy-pamsy material, and not nearly enough of the aggressive and angsty songs that put the band on the map. How such a high-energy juvenile band can encore out with "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)" and still sleep soundly at night, I cannot fathom. Fans of the new album will certainly be all over this DVD like gangbusters, but for us crotchety old folk who remember fondly the less glamorous Green Day days, Bullet In A Bible feels…I don't know, weird and threatening.
Like teenagers on my lawn. These whippersnappers today think they own the place with their rockin' rock music. Pshaw. Harrumph.
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