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Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong joins 'American Idiot' Broadway cast for a week

green-dayImage Credit: Gary Miller/Getty ImagesTheatergoers who catch Green Day’s American Idiot rock musical on Broadway this week are in for an extra treat: The key role of St. Jimmy will be played by none other than Green Day singer Billie Joe Armstrong.

The band’s reps announced the casting via press release, explaining that American Idiot‘s usual St. Jimmy, Tony Vincent, is on “a leave of absence due to a personal family matter.” Armstrong is temporarily replacing him from Sept. 28 (tomorrow) through this Sunday, Oct. 3. After that, Armstrong will head to Venezuela for a Green Day tour; Vincent’s understudies will cover the role until Vincent’s Oct. 12 return.

Are you seeing Billie Joe in American Idiot this week? Wish he’d join the cast full-time? Sound off in the comments below.

(Follow the Music Mix on Twitter: @EWMusicMix.)

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Soundgarden wraps up Lollapalooza

Lollapalooza-chris-cornellImage Credit: Tim Mosenfelder/Getty ImagesWhen attending Lollapalooza, you have to make some agonizing decisions about what to see.  Green Day or Phoenix? The New Pornographers or Devo? Arcade Fire or Soundgarden? With five or more bands playing simultaneously at any given time, you can’t have it all, I’m afraid. As Chicago’s biggest music fest came to a close on Sunday, there was no other way to cut it—Day 3 was a letdown. By which I mean Soundgarden was a letdown, since the historic reunion of Chris Cornell’s Seattle grunge band was one of the highlights of Sunday’s schedule. This was just their third concert since their reunion in April, and, for that matter, since their breakup 13 years ago. (Arcade Fire, who played at the same time, were a mile away at the opposite end of Grant Park, so there was no possibility of taking in a bit of both acts.)

I had a few reservations leading into their set. First, it was obvious this was going to be little more than just a greatest hits concert. I mean, Soundgarden hasn’t released any new material since 1997. Also, Chris Cornell has since left his grunge roots far behind, embracing pop-rock instead, and even contributing the lackluster song “You Know My Name” to Casino Royale.

Few shared my reservations. One woman named Jackie who was attending the concert with her husband told me that Soundgarden was her favorite band. “I’ve been waiting 15 years to see them live,” she said. “I’ve seen Audioslave in concert and Chris Cornell’s solo act, but never Soundgarden.” Gauging from the audience reaction to their first glimpse of Cornell & Co., the rest of the crowd was every bit as excited, more so than they had been for Lady Gaga or Green Day the nights before. From the start, dozens of lighters (not cell phones, thankfully, with all due respect to the Surgeon General) popped up, pointed at the sky.

To be fair, Soundgarden’s concert opened well, with classic hit after classic hit—including “Spoonman” and their enduring masterpiece “Black Hole Sun.” But unlike the effervescent Billie Joe Armstrong the night before, Chris Cornell didn’t interact with the crowd at all. He played song after song with a dour reserve. Sure, I know grunge is all about melancholy. But Cornell’s vocals and guitar lacked passion, feeling dutiful more than inspired. It was a competent set, but little more than that. Unlike Green Day, who played for an additional 15 minutes beyond their allocated time, Soundgarden ended 10 minutes early. Everybody stood motionless for a few moments, thinking that more was to come. But no, a Macy Gray song started blaring from the speakers to signal that Soundgarden, and by extension Lollapalooza, was done. By all rights, this concert should have been historic. The crowd couldn’t have been more excited if Kurt Cobain had gone all Lazarus on us and Nirvana reunited. Instead, I was left feeling that I should have seen Arcade Fire instead.

And with that, Lollapalooza comes to a close. For those of you who were there, what were your favorite acts? What do you wish you could have seen? And, like me, were you disappointed with Soundgarden?

(Follow the Music Mix on Twitter: @EWMusicMix.)

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Lollapalooza Day 2 brings Green Day, AFI, and Social Distortion: 'Wait, what year is this?'

green-dayImage Credit: Gary Miller/Getty ImagesIn its second day, Lollapalooza, Chicago’s giant music fest, finally revved into high gear, with concerts by Spoon, Phoenix, and Slightly Stoopid. But it was three aging punk-rock acts that ended up stealing the spotlight—AFI, Social Distortion and, of course, Green Day. These big three called to mind Lollapalooza’s early days, starting as a relatively small alt-rock festival in the early ’90s, before ballooning into the massive multi-day, multi-stage event that has now completely taken over Chicago’s sprawling Grant Park. These were yesterday’s three defining acts, and oddly enough, their sets shared a number of similar traits—shameless pandering to the crowd, some self-indulgent nostalgia, overt political content, showy production values, and some transcendentally amazing moments. READ FULL STORY

Green Day thrills Broadway crowd with surprise 'American Idiot' set

Green-Day-American-idiotImage Credit: Walter McBride / Retna Ltd.The cast and house band of the new American Idiot musical are doing their best to approximate the full Green Day experience for Broadway audiences every night. As last night’s show-goers learned, though, nothing beats the real thing. An EW staffer who was in attendance reports that after the final curtain call, all three actual members of Green Day climbed out of their seats in the audience and took the stage for a quick surprise set of “American Idiot” and “Basket Case.” The cast members were as psyched as anyone — one actor even stage-dived into a little crowd surfing. Sounds pretty fun.

Check out a brief, grainy YouTube clip of the excitement after the jump. Were any of you there for this? Does the (admittedly slight) possibility that Green Day might pull something like this again make you want to buy a ticket to American Idiot on Broadway?

READ FULL STORY

'Green Day: Rock Band': We've got a preview plus the exclusive 47-song track list!

green-day-rock-bandIn 1994, Green Day’s Dookie was in heavy rotation in my elementary-school hallways. I also seem to recall video games being a big deal in my circle of acquaintance at that time. So I’m pretty sure I would have been the king of the fourth grade if I had possessed some sort of video game that involved playing “Longview” and “Basket Case.” Well, as of this summer, all I’ll need is a hot tub time machine to make that scenario come true, because MTV Games is about to drop Green Day: Rock Band, the franchise’s second band-specific game after last year’s awesome The Beatles: Rock Band. I stopped by MTV’s Times Square offices recently to check out the game, which arrives in stores June 8 and was developed by Harmonix, the same company that created the other Rock Bands.

The game boasts 47 playable songs — take a look at the full list after the jump, exclusively at the Music Mix. At its core you’ll notice three albums from Green Day’s discography. “The key to putting it together ended up being [2004's] American Idiot,” Harmonix project director Chris Foster told me. “They’re doing a musical based on the album, which is a story that goes from start to finish. We didn’t want to pick and choose songs from that. So we made the call for the first time in one of our games to have the full album on disc. Then we were like, well, [2009's] 21st Century Breakdown is also meant to be heard that way… So that gave us a second album. And then Alex Rigopulos, our CEO, heard about that, and he was like, ‘Why the hell aren’t you putting Dookie on there?’ To which we were like, ‘Uh, yes sir!’ It was a no-brainer.”

READ FULL STORY

Lady Gaga, Green Day, and the Strokes to play Lollapalooza: Something for everyone?

green-day-gagaImage Credit: Neil Lupin/Redferns/Getty Images; Mark Metcalfe/Getty ImagesIt was announced this morning that Soundgarden, Green Day, and Lady Gaga are set to headline this year’s Lollapalooza Festival, which takes place August 6-8 at Chicago’s Grant Park. The event will also see sets by Arcade Fire, The Strokes, Phoenix, Spoon, Jimmy Cliff, Devo, MGMT, Hot Chip, Cypress Hill, Mavis Staples, the Black Keys, and a presumably clothed Erykah Badu (though, of course, you never know what that lady’s going to do—which I mean as a compliment.)

Lollapalooza has always prided itself on offering an eclectic mix of acts—its initial lineup, in 1991, featured Jane’s Addiction, Ice-T, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and the Jim Rose Circus Sideshow. But this year’s list of performers seems to be the most varied for a while, and is certainly a broader musical church headliner-wise than 2009′s more obviously rockier roll call.

What do you think of the lineup? Who are you looking forward to seeing? And is there a person out there who doesn’t care for any of the announced acts? Surely not.

(Follow the Music Mix on Twitter: @EWMusicMix.)

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New Green Day video, 'Last of the American Girls': Guns, golden sand, girls

Green Day’s back with a video for “Last of the American Girls,” off 21st Century Breakdown. It’s sort of a sequel to the 21 Guns video, in which album protagonists Gloria and Christian endeavored to make out despite having their apartment shot up by the cops. Not sure what happened to the boyfriend, but Gloria appears to have relocated her remaining possessions to the desert, where she is living a glamorously desultory life, complete with television and manicure supplies. Then she decides to blow up her car. Also, there are blond go-go dancers/American Apparel employees following her every move, while the ageless Billie Joe Armstrong and his punk band friends stand nearby and serenade her individuality. You can watch it after the jump. It’s super symbolic n’ stuff. Oh, Green Day. Remember that one time you named an album Dookie? READ FULL STORY

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony: Eyewitness report

hall-of-fameImage Credit: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images“The class of 2010 represents diversity!” So said Rock and Roll Hall of Fame head honcho Jann Wenner at the start of this year’s induction shindig, which was held Monday evening in New York’s Waldorf Astoria Hotel.

Whether that was the sound of a man relishing rock’s rich pageant or making lemonade out of some collectively strange-tasting lemons is a debatable point. But there’s no doubt this year’s crop of inductees—Genesis, the Hollies, the Stooges, Jimmy Cliff, and ABBA—had very little in common, save a willingness to turn up and be feted by their musical peers at the annual celebration of rockitude.

The performances were as varied as the terpsichoreal stylings. Genesis, for example, didn’t play at all, leaving Phish to competently tackle chunks of the prog-rockers’ back catalog. Meanwhile, reggae legend Jimmy Cliff tore the place up with renditions of his classic tracks “You Can Get it if You Really Want,” “Many Rivers To Cross,” and a Wyclef Jean-assisted “The Harder They Come.” Cliff and his fabulous silver jacket even topped Iggy Pop, who, it is perhaps needless to note, went shirtless fronting the Stooges as they stormed through “Search and Destroy” and “I Wanna Be Your Dog.” ABBA were represented musically by Benny Andersson, who accompanied Faith Hill on piano for a version of “The Winner Takes It All,” and the Hollies sounded merely like an agreeable-ish wedding band, despite boasting the vocal talents of both Graham Nash and Adam Levine from Maroon 5.

Actually, attending the chicken dinner-featuring event was very much like going to someone’s nuptials, except that instead of the best man making a speech about the time the groom got an unfortunate rash in Amsterdam, Phish’s Trey Anastasio illuminated us on the excellence of Genesis’ complex time signatures. And that was by no means the end of the speechifying.  Steven Van Zandt took time out to note the current “spiritual bankruptcy” of the record business when he inducted the Hollies, Billie Joe Armstrong recited a lengthy list of the acts that had been inspired by the Stooges—one that concluded with “…and my own f—ing band”— and Iggy Pop himself appeared close to tears as he ruminated on his reformed combo’s “lovely, lovely, second act.”

Finally, Benny Andersson pointed out that while his native Sweden may not be steeped in blues music, it is steeped in being darned cold, which he claimed explains both the films of Ingmar Bergman and the more melancholic moments of ABBA’s own oeuvre. Thank you for the entertaining amateur psychology, Benny! And, of course, the music.

So, what do you think of this year’s Hall of Fame inductees? And who would you like to see get the nod in 2011? Let us know!

(Follow the Music Mix on Twitter: @EWMusicMix.)

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Grammy rehearsals, day two: Taylor Swift, Dave Matthews, Maxwell, Green Day, and Black Eyed Peas

Welcome back to the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles—across the street from the L.A. Live complex, which, as one tourist helpfully exclaimed while I was getting my coffee, is “totally like the Times Square of L.A.!”—for day two of Grammy rehearsals. (Read about day one here.) No press releases about new performers came out, but if Friday’s roster of stars doesn’t make you want to watch the show, you are never going to watch the show. After the jump: Dave Matthews Band, Maxwell, Green Day (with the cast of American Idiot), Black Eyed Peas, and Taylor Swift.  READ FULL STORY

Green Day's 'American Idiot' is coming to Broadway: Will you buy a ticket?

After months of speculation, it has been officially announced that American Idiot, the musical based on Green Day’s 2004 CD, will make its Broadway debut on April 20 at the St. James Theatre. (Previews will start on March 24.)

The show enjoyed a record-breaking run at Berkeley Rep’s Roda Theatre in the fall and, given that success, it does not come as a huge surprise that American Idiot is hitting the Great White Way. But when I spoke to the show’s director Michael Mayer last April he sounded far from convinced that the land of Wicked, Billy Elliot and The Phantom of the Opera would turn out to be its natural home. “I’m not sure that Broadway is where we’re going to end up,” mused Mayer, who won a Tony for directing Spring Awakening. “The people will tell us where this wants to be.”

The people, it seems, have spoken. But are there enough of them to sustain a lengthy Broadway run? Will fans of Mamma Mia! line up to see it? Will you? And would it make any difference if they put an exclamation mark at the end of the title? Tell us what you think!

(Follow the Music Mix on Twitter: @EWMusicMix.)

More on the American Idiot musical
Like Green Day AND Glee? Then get ready to love this version of ’21 Guns’
Green Day make a musical
Billie Joe Armstrong Q&A

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Photo credit: Marina Chavez

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