The background of Bullet In a Bible
is pretty well known. Green Day plays Milton Keynes, 65,000 people show up two days in a row; Green Day rocks them like it's 1999. Riding the monumental success of American Idiot, Green Day accurately got it into their heads that people will buy a live album of theirs. Unfortunately, the DVD does not include some of their best songs they played, instead focusing on the new hits that the world is sick of. Bullet In A Bible
is just another tool to push Green Day's best-selling album ever, American Idiot. I have seen them live, and they drove the crowd nuts with punk classics like Jaded and She, but unfortunately these songs are cut to make room for the documentary portion of the DVD. In short, Bullet In A Bible
is a fans-only release from Green Day, including many favorites and a documentary with usually useless but sometimes hilarious insights into what makes the biggest rock band in the world tick.
The problem with Green Day's live performance is that it includes a shitload of schmaltz and stalling. For example, vocalist/guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong at one point or another: puts his hand down his pants, humps the stage, moons the audience, gets the crowd to cheer with a mere flick of his e string, and about 10 out of 14 songs include Billie getting the crowd to dey-oh with him. Now granted, this is mildly amusing when actually being there, but on the DVD it gets annoying and gives people wrong ideas about Green Day. When seeing them in person, Billie cuts the crap and plays his songs. The DVD includes all of Green Day's schmaltzy songs. Classics of American culture, like Hitchin' A Ride
are ruined because of Billie toying with the crowd. And does anyone really need a 4 minute band introduction, when "Jaded" will suit just fine? I don't think so.
When looking past the irritating stalling, however, one finds excellent quality music, an attest to Green Day's musical talent. How many bands out there do you know who have great songs on their album, but when they perform live, they sound like crap? With Green Day, this is not the case. Through the running around and screwing with the audience, Billie Joe maintains his voice, sounding even better doing the gutting chorus of Boulevard Of Broken Dreams
then his rants during [i]American Idiot[i/]. While Billie does occasionally play the wrong notes, due to the jumping and running, it's forgettable. My only beef is that is the first three tracks, the uncharismatic Jason White's guitar is turned up light-years over Billie Joe's, leading to solos where the entire bottom drops out. It's a spirit killer. But, Green Day seems to fix this problem by the time Longview comes around, and Green Day's live musical ability really gets pretty top-notch. This sets Green Day apart from imitators like Sum 41 and Blink 182, whose songs just get annoying after a few listens.
Green Day's best work comes when Billie Joe cuts the bull*** and just goes for it. They absolutely nail the only true classic off of American Idiot, Jesus Of Suburbia
because there are no Billie Joe dey-oh's, no chatting up the audience, just straight music. Other than Billie Joe's annoying habit of slipping city names into songs (It was actually rather funny trying to hear him slip "New Jersey" into the line "From Anaheim To The Middle East"), Jesus Of Suburbia
lacks the jackass antics that drag down so many songs of Bullet In A Bible
. Unfortunately, Green Day only resolve to do that in one other song, the still-paranoia inducing Basket Case
. Arguably Billie Joe's best song ever (kinda sucks when you peak at album 3), Basket Case
is a classic not to be bogged down. Green Day acknowledges the respect that song deserves, and it's hard to work a song all about loud and fast to be fodder for faux masturbation. The punk masterpiece also gives Britain time to prove they don't have any concept of time whatsoever. When Billie Joe lets the crowd sing "It All Keeps Adding Up/ I Think I"m Cracking Up", the Londoners get to about the word "Adding" when Green Day, who's still in perfect time, jump back in. Other than that, Basket Case proves Green Day still has the punk spirit and that they don't have to resort to drastically smaltzy measures to put on a good show.
Now in all the hullabaloo of Billie Joe being a jackass, the other band members appear to be lost. And it's true. Billie Joe not only lauds the concert with crap antics that put all the attention on him, but he gets all the footage time in the documentary as well ("These chicks don't even know the name of my band...")! The few times we look into the minds of Green Day's "other guys" we get to really see the talent they produce as a band in general. Bassist Mike Dirnt and Drummer Tre Cool are the real reason Green Day is so popular, especially when they get into the old stuff. Dirnt's on-stage persona is that of a caged tiger, rarely leaving his post on stage left, but from the back of the audience, one can still see his neck veins bursting out of his head. His ultimate achievement is still, and probably will continue to be Longview
, where his tone and accuracy carry the song. His basswork is what made early Green Day so excellent, like that catchy little G-String hit at the beginning of Basket Case
or his fist-pumping southern bass-line in punk classic Minority
. His back-up vocals, a vastly underrated part of his contributions, shine brightly on Bullet
. His backup is quite versatile, going from the scary shrieks of Brain Stew
, the gentle coos of Dearly Beloved
, or the anarchist shouts of Hitchin A Ride
. In the documentary, he seems like a man very upset at the world, not surprising considering his troubled upbringing, and when he gets on stage, it seems to all come out of him. A man on a mission.
Tre Cool on the other hand, is the exact opposite. He is the drummer in Green Day. He snorts doughnut sprinkles. He is an utter goofball, whether making countless faces at the camera, shrieking at the top his lungs "I AM SO BEAUTIFUL!" or just relaxing and making up fun little diddy's about marijuana. And yes, for those who are wondering, he wrote "Rock And Roll Girlfriend", the funniest portion of American Idiot. Mike describes him as 100% drummer. And that's so true. His drumming is way beyond what many punk drummers of today could do, as highlighted by the Dookie selections again, and the awesome interlude between Brain Stew
and what would be Jaded. His drum fills never jump out of time, his beats are excellent... what happened? Bullet In A Bible
really shows how far the mighty hath fallen in terms of songwriting. Tre's old stuff was insane, like the Travis Barker of his day. Now it's just 1-2-3-4 stuff with nigh a drum fill to be had. Perhaps Bullet can serve as a wake-up call to the kids who need to know what Green Day really is, not the musically bland songs off American Idiot, but the epic punk classics they could produce one after the other.
So now you're updated on Mike and Tre, its back to the music. Some portions off Bullet In A Bible
can be absolutely epic. Unfortunately, due to crap stage antics, no song can ever be just breathtaking. Nevertheless, there have been moments in Bullet
where I've said the word "Wow", and I won't be afraid to admit it. The showers of sparks that rain down during the solo of overplayed song number 839, Wake Me Up When September Ends
, are truly a sight to see. It's a personal song for Billie, the first time he's acknowledged his father's passing (NOT A POLITICAL SONG). Billie really plays it with emotion, looking close to tears as he sings it. It's probably fake emotion considering it's coming off King For a Day
and a very fun rendition of Shout
, in which Billie Joe moons the audience, humps the stage, Tre wears a pink woman's hat, and Mike gets punched out by a trombone with a boxing glove, but still, it's nice to watch. Also when Billie Joe gets on with Hitchin A Ride
, after a 5 minute too long chatting session with the Brits, it's awesome. The yelling of "***" at the top of his lungs and the pyrotechnics going off over a head-bustingly distorted guitar solo... agh! just brilliant. Honorable mention goes to whenever Green day uses pyrotechnics.
Much ado was made over the documentary and how it would explain Green Day and blah blah blah, but it's so not true. All we get to hear is Billie Joe passing down what sounds like wisdom, or it could be him just talking about nothing. Green Day goes to a museum to do... nothing. We get to see the people of England make asses of themselves and try to be Billie Joe Armstrong, and accomplishing... nothing. The documentary also proves what a jackass Samuel Bayer is, and includes some thrilling segments of the stage getting put up. Other than a hilarious Tre Cool-oriented segment, the documentary is just a waste of time.
While Bullet In A Bible
will prove a treat for the semi-diehard Green Day fan, the common man will find it shallow and most of it boring. Billie Joe's stage antics are so annoying and intrusive, and the supposed barrier breaking documentary is a cheese fest. The music quality is excellent for a live show, however, and portions of it can range from hilarious to gut-wrenching. Green Day's live show is oriented straight for the fans, undoubtedly, and fans will enjoy this. It doesn't have a great amount of replay value however, and I got bored with it two weeks after Christmas. It's a buy for Green Day fans, but if you're just casual, go get something else.
Jesus Of Suburbia
King For A Day/Shout
Wake Me Up When September Ends
Great quality music
Hooray for pyrotechnics
Crap on-stage antics
A worthless band introduction segment
Documentary is boring and quite skippable
Billie Joe Armstrong
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