Review: You’d be an Idiot not to see it

Alex Nee as Johnny in American Idiot.
Alex Nee as Johnny in American Idiot.
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Green Day’s American Idiot

Palace Theatre, Manchester

Every age gets the rock opera it deserves, so for its energy, anger and dysfunction you can’t fault American Idiot.

The Broadway show wraps its hard-bitten story around the music of US pop-punk band Green Day, but any similarities with Mama Mia should be quickly dismissed.

This is a shouty, sweary, angst-ridden musical bound to delight its target audience, and you can’t help but get caught up in its primitive power.

For a start it features the best of the band’s anthemic output, from their highpoint 2004 album of the same name, and overlays it all on the experience of three friends coping with the usual disconnect between the American Dream and its reality.

There’s probably more narrative between the songs at a Green Day concert so instead the music tells its own story. If you know the lyrics you’re well ahead of any plot.

Johnny, Tunny and Will go their separate ways, towards drug-fuelled narcissism, the Iraq war, or apparently cosy suburbia.

As a post 9/ll view of adolescent nihilism it probably pretty well sums up the attitude of the sons and daughters of Generation X, who became Generation Why?

Hits like Boulevard of Broken Dreams, 21 Guns, Wake Me Up When September Ends, Holiday and the title track pretty well tumble into each other, though a previously unreleased love song, When It’s Time, does tend to stand out from the basic chord patterns of the more familiar output.

The stage set provides its own flash, bang, wallop, though probably with a little too much strobe effect. It’s basically a battery of TV screens against an industrial backdrop but all works better when it becomes the screen for stage-wide projections.

In such a setting, and such a musical, even the extraordinary flying sequence wrapped around Extraordinary Girl achieves its dramatic effect . . . but again (as above) Mary Poppins this is not!

American Idiot rages on here until November 24.