Green Day Rock Reading Festival

Band plays career-spanning set with new songs at heavily-leaked 'surprise show'

Green Day perform on the NME/Radio1 stage during Day Two of Reading Festival at Richfield Avenue in Reading, United Kingdom.
Marc Broussely/Redferns via Getty Images
Green Day perform on the NME/Radio1 stage during Day Two of Reading Festival at Richfield Avenue in Reading, United Kingdom.
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Billie Joe Armstrong may have described it as "the worst kept secret ever," but Green Day’s opening slot on the second day of the U.K.’s Reading Festival still caught some festival-goers by surprise yesterday morning.

While the band had dropped the heaviest of hints that they would appear in the days leading up to the festival, Armstrong only confirmed the set 45 minutes before the 11 a.m. start time via Twitter.

With most fans still in their tents, early risers were treated to the unusual sight of thousands of people streaming through the gates and running straight for the tented Radio 1/NME Stage at the rear of the festival site. In the end, demand was so great that festival organizers were forced to close access to the tent, leaving thousands of other fans to watch the set on the big screens at the main stage.

Even then, many of the lucky few didn’t dare to believe it was actually happening until the band burst onto the stage with "Welcome to Paradise."

"We’ve only got an hour," declared Armstrong after "Know Your Enemy." "But something tells me we might go a little over time." 
He was true to his word, clocking up a 70-minute set that spurned the rumored Dookie run-through in favor of a career-spanning setlist that included five songs from that 1994 classic album, and two well-received new songs ("Stay the Night," "Oh Love") from the forthcoming Uno! album. Time constraints did, however, force the band to truncate a version of "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" and Armstrong to jokingly square up to festival officials trying to persuade him to leave the stage.

That aside, the frontman was in good spirits, firing a giant water pistol into the moshpit, donning a sailor’s cap thrown from the crowd and thrilling to the ecstatic audience response.

"That’s why I fucking love England Godammit," he exclaimed after one particularly lusty call-and-response session. "Americans just don’t get shit like that."

Other highlights included punked-up versions of "Holiday" and "Hitchin’ a Ride" and the closing barrage of hits, including "Longview" and "American Idiot." It was all over shortly after noon, but Reading 2012 already had its major talking point.

Set List

"Welcome to Paradise"
"Murder City"
"Know Your Enemy"
"Stay the Night"
"Oh Love"
"Holiday"
"Hitchin’ a Ride"
"Letterbomb"
"Brain Stew"
"St. Jimmy"
"Boulevard of Broken Dreams" (intro)
"Longview"
"Basket Case"
"American Idiot"
"She"