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Hammersmith Apollo

jonathan churchill

green day american idiot

Christmas party season was put on hold last week when Green Day's American Idiot musical rolled into town. Having had great reviews on Broadway and even starring Billie Joe Armstrong as 'St Jimmy' on occasion, the full US production has undertaken a UK tour culminating in two sold-out weeks at the Hammersmith Apollo.

I'm a massive fan of the American Idiot album and I was fortunate to see Green Day at Brixton Academy on that tour. It is one of my all-time gig highlights and the energy and crowd interaction on all the tracks from the album was incredible. You could really sense that it was something special.

But could it really become a Broadway musical?

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American Idiot is one of Green Day's best. It is a rare musical gem which absolutely captures the mood of a generation. It's melodic, Broadway-friendly no less, and yet fiercely political and wonderfully EMO. Designed as a conceptual piece in response to the realities of post 9/11 America, there was always scope to 'do more' with the album and when theatre director Michael Mayer approached the band they agreed to collaborate on the musical show.

So here we are, Thursday night in Hammersmith and you could hear a pin drop! I was last here with standing tickets for Slash earlier in the year, with the usual rock crowd, stench of beer and overflowing toilets. Tonight's very odd because the venue seems quiet and it's clean and has seats. My head knows that I'm at the theatre but my heart wants to be back at Green Day in Brixton.

The show kicks off with 'American Idiot' – led by an absolutely knockout house band. They're on stage as part of the set and the band leader even looks like Billie Joe Armstrong. The story is basically the conceptual idea from American Idiot fleshed out into a wider narrative. There are three main characters, Will, Tunny and Johnny and their stories run parallel throughout.

Will gets his girlfriend pregnant and stays stuck at home in smalltown America. Tunny and Johnny get out to the big city where Johnny falls into drugs and finds his alter-ego, 'St Jimmy', while Tunny loses direction, joins the army and goes to war. Extra characters from the album's songs build on the emotion and relationships – Whatsername, Heather and Extraordinary girl.

There's not much more to add – it's really just a chance to sit back and enjoy the ensemble cast belt out not just 'American Idiot' but some great B-sides, a few off '21st Century Breakdown' and a gorgeous new song – 'When It's Time'.

Does it work?

Nearly. The cast are fantastic. Straight off the set of One Tree Hill, they're all young, fun and full of…energy…and really give 100%. The band ensure the music sounds better than ever – stand-out numbers include '21 Guns', 'Letterbomb' and 'Whatsername' – but there are very few weak moments. Mixing up the male and female singers works a treat and although it is rather 'artistic' at times, it's hardly 'Rent'.

Bizarrely the crowd is silent throughout. I've heard that Rock Of Ages is a total blast, with costumes, hen nights and tons of interaction. But tonight it is so sensible that you could almost be in the audience at The Royal Variety Performance. Having seen Green Day play live, and knowing how enormously powerful these songs are, there's a huge urge to stand up, throw a few beers and get moshing down the front. We don't, obviously. But it needs it.

Overall this was a cool piece of theatre and really great to have some decent source material instead of ABBA or the latest abortion featuring Spice Girls songs. If you really have to go to the theatre, then this is a musical you can go to with your head held high. And the story may be a little thin, but it does more than enough to emphasise that 'We Will Rock You' is complete nonsense.

But in Christmas panto season if I could have one wish from the genie in the lamp it would be to be back at Brixton Academy hearing 'American Idiot' live for the first time – while the real Green Day burned through some of my favourite songs of all time: 'Jesus Of Suburbia', 'Holiday', 'Are We The Waiting', 'St Jimmy', 'Homecoming'... and the rest... pure unadulterated rock 'n' roll joy!

Green Day's 'American Idiot' runs until Sunday 16th December.



Jonathan Churchill. \m/
Follow me on Twitter: MetalTalk_1976



Wacken Winter Nights 2018 takes place between February 23rd and 25th 2018 and the great news is that you can now experience a full-on, top class German Metal Festival easily and affordably.

It only takes an hour to fly to Hamburg from London and we've had longer journeys than that within the capital and they were certainly more expensive than the £33 air ticket that just appeared in our 'flights to Wacken Winter Nights' search.


Wacken Winter Nights is organised by the same team who are responsible for the world's greatest Metal festival, Wacken-Open-Air and the 2018 bill includes Skyclad, Orphaned Land, Elvenking, Finntroll, Grave Digger, Aeverium, Comes Vagantes, Coppelius, Corvus Corax, Die Pressgëng, Elvellon, Heimataerde, Hell-O-Matic, Ignis Fatuu, Ingrimm, Irdorath, Johnny Deathshadow, Krayenzeit, Letzte Instanz, Mr Hurley und die Pulveraffen, Pampatut, Pat Razket, Schandmaul, Sündenrausch, The Aberlour's, The Moon And The Nightspirit, Torfrock, Visions Of Atlantis, Vroudenspil, Wind Rose and more.

Besides this rich billing of superb Metal bands, there is so much more to see in the festival area including the medieval market and also the walking acts and jugglers you will meet at the theme worlds, including Robert Blake, three-time World Cup winner of street magic.

Wacken Winter Nights is something not to be missed and you can check out the amazing ticket and accommodation prices right here.

We just priced up the whole four day trip with hotels, flights, shuttles and festival tickets for less than £300 and we don't think you will get a better value festival than that, anywhere.


MetalTalk recently sat down with Wacken founder and owner Thomas Jensen and that interview will be online next week and it's a fascinating insight into how Wacken originated from nothing to become the world's premiere Heavy Metal event.


Wacken 2018 takes place from 2nd to 4th August 20218 and as with Wacken Winter Nights, if you have never experienced all it has to offer, then you owe it to yourself to remedy that.

Already announced for Wacken 2018 are Judas Priest, Nightwish, Running Wild (exclusive), Arch Enemy, Dirkschneider, Doro (Special Anniversary Show), In Extremo, Sepultura, Amorphis, Amaranthe, Firewind, W.A.R., Belphegor, Mantar, Knorkator, Deserted Fear, Watain, Night Demon, Epica, Knorkator, Belphegor, Firewind, Deserted Fear and many more and we'll have more Wacken 2018 announcements during December.

As well as being the greatest Heavy Metal festival in the world, it is without a doubt the Mecca of Metal and the one thing that every single person who loves our music should have on their bucket list.

For 2018, MetalTalk have joined forces with Wacken-Open-Air to help you get to Wacken easily and inexpensively and you can peruse the ticket and travel options right here.

If you are interested in going to Wacken 2018 and have questions, please fill out the form below and we will contact you with answers to all your enquiries. You are under no obligation whatsoever by filling this form out. We won't add you to any mailing lists or send you loads of spam - all we will do is help you get to Wacken as easily and inexpensively as possible.



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