Onstage at Brixton, Armstrong is like a windup doll gone crazy, constantly moving. Drummer Tre Cool keeps getting up to circle his drum kit while banging on his cymbals. About the only person in the place who's stationary is Dirnt, though even from the back of the crowd you can see the veins pop out of his neck. "This song is a big fuck-you to the American government," Armstrong says before the band plays "Holiday." "This song is not anti-American, it's anti-war." The giant video screens behind him light up with images of helicopters dropping bombs.
Almost an hour later, Green Day encore with an utterly sincere cover of Queen's "We Are the Champions." The entire crowd sings along. It feels like Green Day are not just celebrating their return to the top of the charts; they're leading a rock & roll resistance movement.
When Green Day first hit it big with Dookie in 1994, they were three kids from a grimy punk-rock collective in Berkeley, California. They sang about teen boredom, masturbation and being couch potatoes. Dookie sold 10 million copies but drew the scorn of the punks they grew up with. By twenty-three, they were all millionaires and all married. They kept making records but stopped talking to one another. Before long, between them they had five kids and three divorces.