If Johnny Depp‘s much-touted cover of “Heroes” got Bowie fans in a viral tizzy, we think Billie Joe Armstrong‘s cover of “Ziggy Stardust” (see below) is just as worthy. Last week at L.A.’s Teragram Ballroom, the Green Day singer rocked a sold out crowd with his band The Longshot (featuring members of one of our favorite boy bands -rock n’ roll boy bands, that is- Prima Donna), playing original material from his side project’s new record and an array of covers including The Ramones’ “Rockaway Beach,” The Damned‘s “Neat Neat Neat,” and The Plimsouls‘ “Million Miles Away.”
Interestingly, two iconic women related to these covers happened to be in the crowd- the eternally glamorous Linda Ramone and new wave goddess Josie Cotton. Ramone of course, was married to guitarist Johnny Ramone (and dated singer Joey before that), while Cotton remains a fave with gay and straight music fans for her campy yet insightful anthem about sexuality called “Johnny Are You Queer?” heard on the soundtrack for the beloved teen film Valley Girl. That soundtrack is widely regarded as one of the best collections of music in a movie ever. The Plimsouls, which The Longshot covered, were also on the album and were seen in the movie as part of a smoky Hollywood club scene. The film was, of course, based on Frank Zappa’s ’80s hit about mall-dwelling So Cal gals who like to say “omigod,” “totally,” and “like” in every sentence. It also made Nicolas Cage -who not coincidentally played a punk rocker- a star.
But back to The Longshot. Fans of Green Day’s high-energy pop-punk stylings will want to check out this effervescent new act from Armstrong, which sees the singer having more fun than ever, dancing, joking and letting fans join him and his band onstage throughout the entire show. He definitely kills it on the classic Bowie anthem, though the best Ziggy cover still goes to goth legends Bauhaus.
The Northern California-based Armstrong has not released new material with his other chart-topping group for a while now (there was a live vinyl record for Record Store Day in April), but they do have a book scheduled to come out this Fall called “Last of the American Girls.”
Illustrated by cartoonist Frank Caruso and named after the song on G.D.’s record, 21st Century Breakdown, the release is touted as a handbook for the “rebellious everywoman” and “true rebel girls.” Armstrong and Green Day have long been champions of equality for women and LGBTQ rights, and in many ways their concept album, American Idiot, foreshadowed the hypocrisy/idiocy of our current government.
Learn more about The Longshot here. And speaking of covers, check out Prima Donna’s brand new seasonal sing-along, a rendition of Bananarama’s “Cruel Summer,” when it premieres tomorrow. More info here.