Billie Joe Armstrong has been punk’s poster boy for the past 25 years. He’s also been unfairly accused of being a sellout for just as long. How many rockstars can boast about having multiple Grammy AND Tony Awards to their name, not to mention a version of the Rock Band video game?
But for all of Green Day’s success, Armstrong has never, ever been afraid to take a chance regardless of what it might do the profitable career he’s created. In between singing “Time of Your Life” zillions of times, Armstrong has proven to be quite the busybody over the course of his career. He’s collaborated with Norah Jones among many others, produced son Joey’s band SWMRS, and filled in for The Replacements’ Paul Westerberg while the latter literally laid on a couch.
And now there’s The Longshot, a ‘play every instrument’ solo project of Armstrong’s that was somehow kept secret until earlier this year. If you’re a fan of Green Day’s garage rock-inspired Uno! ¡Dos! ¡Tré! trilogy, chances are you’ll really dig this material. I sure do, and wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity to see someone as larger than life as the herky-jerky Armstrong in as intimate a setting as Toronto’s Horseshoe Tavern last night.
I have one 🙂 pic.twitter.com/8XLuKOtD23
— Arielle (@stjimmy95) May 29, 2018
I can’t stress enough how high-energy this show was, made all the more impressive by the fact the city experienced temperatures approaching 40 degrees with the humidex. That’s over 100 Fahrenheit for you American Idiots! Armstrong only did a pair of Green Day songs in addition to perspiration-powered covers by the Ramones, Rolling Stones and Generation X. Maximum rock-a-BILLY, indeed. The Longshot jammed out 9 of the 11 tracks on Love Is for Losers; even if it’s only a month or so old, everyone seemed to know the lyrics, a testament to the strict ticket policy ensuring that only real fans made it inside. Don’t take my word for it though – give a listen to the playlist I put together below of what Armstrong and his new bandmates have been performing on tour (only difference being “Fever Blister” moved to the encore, before Ziggy Stardust made famous courtesy of some guy named Bowie).
I think I was more appreciative of them ending their breakneck speed set before 11 PM, especially on a school night. From having local noisemakers Sam Coffey and the Iron Lungs open to shouting out our music scene, Armstrong confirmed he wasn’t bullshitting us all by saying how much he loved Toronto. We believe you, Billie Joe! After proclaiming rock and roll in Toronto will never die wearing a Blue Jays hat to boot, Armstrong made the age-old “last song promise” that we’d see them soon. While I like Green Day as much as the next fella, I hope it’s not bad for me to hope that the next time is with The Longshot again. Thumbs way, way up. Thank you Jeff Cohen and Collective Concerts for bringing it to the ’Shoe.