Seeing Green Day live at MTV World Stage in Seville, Spain
The first date of Green Day's new era was expected to be on March 8, 2020, in Singapore. When Green Day were nominated for Best Rock Act at the EMAs, some fans wondered if they’d perform. Soon enough, it was announced they would indeed perform at the beautiful Plaza de España – and that tickets were only €10.
Fans prepared to buy tickets. With 20,000 people suddenly descending on Seville, prices went up. My mum and I flew in via Faro. Before the Parque de María Luisa closed for the show, we wandered around, hearing techs set up – ‘Kevin’s vocals,’ ‘Jason W,’ ‘Mike’s vocals,’ ‘Billie A, Billie B!’
We were walking back down the Paseo de las Delicias when we heard American Idiot. It was soundcheck! We ran to the park gates. Smiling fans began to gather. Confused tourists asked what was going on. None of us could quite believe Green Day were here, let alone that we’d see them tomorrow. They soundchecked American Idiot, Jesus of Suburbia, Revolution Radio and Father of All. Despite initially disliking the new song, it sounded fantastic and I found myself dancing and singing. Test fireworks exploded, illuminating the cloudy night sky, as they strolled offstage.
Arriving to the line around 8pm, there were about 10 people there. We were numbered #43 and #44. Fans from around Europe sat on blankets and sleeping bags. Since this was the closest Green Day would ever get to Morocco, I brought my flag. Shoutout to my fellow fans in the Maghreb!
In the middle of the night, it began to rain. When I woke up – well, came to, since I don’t think anyone really slept – I was soaked and covered in mud. Colour dripped from my flag. Claudia from France showed us her sopping pillow. We joined fans taking food and toilet breaks in the nearby McDonald's and Starbucks. When we returned, we saw that the queue already stretched around the street corner.
My mum, chatting with security in a mix of Spanish, Portuguese and English, discovered there were 1500 VIPs – plus another 320 ‘Mega VIPs’ on a special platform. We were sure then none of us would get front row. Even so, everyone remained and security were fantastic, ensuring no one cut the line and climbing in to remove those who did. They advised us to take our last break before 3pm.
There was another burst of rain. Umbrellas opened to be closed again. My mum, disabled and unable to sit on the floor, sat on a nearby railing. Claudia applied Joker make-up. I unsuccessfully tried to dry off my shirt and flag. A dad and his little boy asked to take a photo with it. We met Silvia from Green Day Italian Rage & Love – who we’d met nine years before on the 21st Century Breakdown Tour. It’s truly incredible how this band connects people.
With around 15 minutes until 3pm, Claudia gathered our belongings to take to her motel. Nothing would happen at 3pm exactly, right? Security were just warning us… or so we thought. Only a few minutes after Claudia left, we were called inside by numbers. They said no one could join us now. We panicked. There were several campers missing. I frantically messaged Claudia on GDC and Instagram. No one could lose their place after getting soaked in the night! Thankfully, after explaining the situation to security, everyone was let back in.
The final soundcheck echoed from inside. We danced along to Hitchin’ a Ride, Revolution Radio and Father of All. Chants of ‘Green Day! Green Day! Green Day!’ rose and fell. After being rushed inside, the wait felt longer than ever. Then, suddenly, the line was moving. People jostled to be first through the metal detectors. Security gave up on ours and waved us through. We were marched inside in a group, held back by tape, until an empty stretch when everyone ran; then we were stopped again before we reached the floor.
I craned my neck to see the barrier. It was empty! There wasn’t a single VIP. Claudia and I high-fived as we deliriously claimed spots in front of Jason. Then it slowly began to sink in that we were here, front row, as the sun set over the beautiful plaza – about to see our favourite band for the first time in over two years. I knew that if they sounded anything like the soundcheck, this show was going to be incredible. The pre-show soundtrack included Rock the Casbah, Seven Nation Army, Mr. Brightside and Are You Gonna Be My Girl? – nostalgic for anyone who got into Green Day in the 2000s!
The music faded. A presenter in a trilby strolled onstage. 'Hola! Hello, Sevilla!' He introduced León Benavente. They played a wild, energetic and confident set. My favourite songs were Gloria and No Hay Miedo. When the presenter returned to introduce The Struts, he asked what the international audience thought of Spain’s finest rock band. I was impressed! The Struts' set was extravagant, with the singer's glittering red suit, pyros and multicoloured lights. The crowd went insane. They loved it.
It wasn’t long until the presenter was back. He wasn’t sure what to say – how to introduce the world-famous band fans camped in the rain for. ‘Tré! Mike! And Billie Joe!’ he yelled as he strolled off, arms raised. ‘Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?’ The ritual of 20,000 people singing Bohemian Rhapsody began. I remember looking up and around at the plaza’s ornate towers and the beams of light extending above and behind us – and feeling truly privileged to be there at that moment.
Blitzkreig Bop followed. There was no Drunk Bunny that day. We were singing, throwing our fists in the air to ‘hey, ho, let’s go!’ In the last chorus, Green Day charged onstage to raucous screams. Billie, grinning, played the opening chords of Minority. The crowd were rallied into a frenzy with ‘a free for all, fuck 'em all, you're on your own side!’ I never expected Minority as an opener!
Revolution Radio followed. Billie pounded his heart to ‘my love’s bulletproof!’ Then came a moment many of us were both excited and curious for. As Tré tapped the hi-hat, Billie announced ‘Father of All!’ The crowd echoed the words as they burst into the riotous chorus. Fans clapped in perfect time. Billie once said the Spanish are the best clappers and he was right! Anyone expecting this song to be even better live won't be disappointed – and anyone who dislikes it might just find themselves dancing anyway.
The singing was deafening as they began Basket Case. Fans hugged and screamed. The band’s smiles were wide – and they were having so much fun that after the song ended, Billie announced ‘fuck it, shall we play it again?!’ and told us to go crazier the second time.
‘The representative of España has the floor!’ Billie yelled in Holiday. Rather than opening Boulevard of Broken Dreams with acoustic guitar, they played the original intro – the first time many fans saw the song that got them into Green Day in its raw form. In Know Your Enemy, Billie picked a guy we met in the line who said he’d been there since the day before when we arrived. We were so happy for him! It’s always nice to see someone from the line get onstage.
Billie put aside his guitar. Tré pounded the intro to Bang Bang. I was struck by how Billie embodied the song’s teetering instability as he froze in various poses – but was his usual goofy self at the same time. That, with its infectious passion, was probably the highlight for me. It could easily be the new St. Jimmy.
Lights faded. The band scattered. Tré approached the mic alone to play All By Myself. Billie appeared at the drums with a cheeky smile. Then, with Tré kicking his legs up high, they burst into ‘I want you to know!’ I was surprised to see the Shout medley without King for a Day, but pleased to see part of their silly routine make an appearance!
Another local fan, wearing a Santa hat, sang Longview. Billie wore an ear-to-ear grin as he watched and encouraged her down the catwalk. Before she stage dived, they burst into She and, on his command, she was gone. Everyone was jumping, fist pumping and singing. I'd never seen a crowd so truly overjoyed to just be there, dancing together and seeing their favourite band. Billie walked to the internal mic. Then they played Waiting. It was apt, for so many fans had been waiting a long time for this moment to come – whether they were seeing the band for the first time or after what felt like a long wait since the Revolution Radio Tour.
In American Idiot, Billie sang ‘I’m not a part of the dumb Trump America.’ This was my first time seeing Jesus of Suburbia since making the 'pilgrimage' to the suburbs of Oakland that inspired it. It played over and over in my head what the band came from to stand there in Seville, Best Rock Act nominees at MTV World Stage. As the crowd echoed ‘hooome!’ I knew that the show was coming to an end. Confetti and shimmering fireworks exploded. I looked up, at the sparkling sky and confetti raining down, while Billie sang Good Riddance. There were smiles and tears of joy all around me. Mike, laying on the catwalk, high-fived fans. Billie lifted his guitar and waved goodbye.
The lights weren’t out. We joined booming chants of ‘Green Day! Green Day! Green Day!’ until they ran back onstage. Like the opener, I never expected the closer – St. Jimmy. The crowd, though exhausted from the night’s dancing, jumped and screamed along. It left us buzzing. Then the lights were off and the pre-show soundtrack returned. It was over.
Hurrying to McDonald’s for water, we were parched but couldn’t stop excitedly discussing the show. I still can’t put my finger on quite why this show was so special. Maybe it was the beautiful venue. Maybe it was how happy I was to see them again. One thing I know for sure, though, is that fans can expect to see Green Day at their best, bringing new energy to every show.
This article first appeared on Green Day Authority.