Two of the bands most responsible for the commercial popularity of melodic punk rock in the 1990s have come together for the coast-to-coast Pop Disaster tour, which touched down Wednesday at the nearly sold-out Forum after two big outdoor shows the previous weekend in Irvine. Both groups approached the show with a workmanlike greatest-hits mentality that was just a tad disappointing.
If there was any doubt, Green Day – playing in the middle slot, after Jimmy Eat World – proved it is the better of the two veteran bands with a supertight showcase of its many hits.
The San Francisco Bay Area band blitzed through 14 songs in little more than an hour, slowing down only for singer-guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong’s solo turn during the acoustic and decidedly unpunk ballad “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life).” The quick-paced “Waiting,” from Green Day’s 2000 release “Warning” (Reprise), was a highlight, offered with a lengthened ending, though Armstrong’s poor harmonica playing should be removed from the tune.
Numerous explosions of confetti and large fireballs accented the performance, which also included hits “Welcome to Paradise” and “Longview,” from band’s breakthrough 1994 album “Dookie,” plus the old-school entry “2000 Light Years Away.” As usual, three fans were brought onstage during a cover of Operation Ivy’s “Knowledge” and quickly taught to play the song, a clear crowd-pleaser.
Blink-182’s endless potty-mouth shtick (“We like boobies!”, “I showered with grandpa!”) seemed even more gratuitous and juvenile than usual after Green Day’s excellent set, and the crowd appeared to grow restless long before the band’s time was up.
In addition, slapsticky singers Mark Hoppus (who also plays bass) and Tom DeLonge (guitar) displayed poor comedic timing, joking about having sex with all the Lakers players even as they began “Adam’s Song,” the one composition in the group’s entire oeuvre that tackles a serious topic (teen suicide).
Drummer Travis Barker, the most talented musician in Blink-182, was impressive, slamming his way through older song “Carousel.” Later, during “Dammit,” he kept a steady beat even as his drum set was raised off the stage, hoisted above the crowd and made to spin around while fireworks exploded all around him.
The two-month Pop Disaster tour will hit Madison Square Garden on May 31 and wrap June 17 in Minneapolis.