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A look at Green Day’s 24-year history of playing Las Vegas

It all came and went in a flash of F-bombs, obliterated guitars and Biebs barbs.

Pop star became pincushion during Green Day’s last stop in town — the band’s shortest, most infamous Las Vegas performance — as part of the iHeartRadio Music Festival at the MGM Grand Garden in September 2012.

Incensed that the band’s scheduled 30-minute set was quickly coming to end, frontman Billie Joe Armstrong lashed out, eyes wide, fuse short.

“I’ve been around since 19-(naughty word)-88!” he fumed, shortly before slamming his instrument into the stage like hammer to anvil. “And you’re going to give me one minute? I’m not (potty mouth alert!) Justin Bieber, you (Whoa! What do our mothers have to do with this?). This is a joke!”

Maybe so, but few were laughing: Shortly after the show, the band announced that Armstrong was entering rehab.

These days, Armstrong seems rejuvenated, and Green Day’s latest record testifies to as much: “Revolution Radio,” the band’s 12th studio album, is an equally combative and contemplative call to arms, a record that pops off like onomatopoetic first single “Bang Bang.”

It’s a tough one, growing old without getting old, but this bunch has done it.

With Green Day hitting Vegas for the first time in nearly five years this weekend, let’s chronicle the band’s 24-year history of shows in town in the wake of gig No. 10:

Huntridge Theater, Sept. 12, 1993, and Feb. 27, 1994

A poo-flinging monkey heralded what would become the top-selling punk rock record of all time. Green Day’s first Vegas gigs at the venerable Huntridge Theater coincided with the recording and release of the group’s major-label debut, “Dookie,” which dropped Feb. 2, 1994, and would become the biggest album of its ilk ever, with over 20 million copies moved worldwide. The album cover depicted, among other things, a turd-tossin’ primate, an apt totem for how this bunch would approach its status as the new, leering face of punk rock.

Cox Pavilion, July 25, 2001

What, no time for deep-fried Oreos, Mermaids-style, dudes? When Green Day was becoming the biggest punk band in the world, the group skipped Vegas during the touring cycles for both its “Insomniac” and “Nimrod” albums. Which brings us to “Warning,” the band’s sixth record, which would go gold at the time and eventually move over a million copies but represented a big sales drop from its multi-platinum predecessors. The band’s Cox Pavilion gig was in support of said album. “I’m on a sentimental journey, into sight and sound,” Armstrong sang on “Castaway,” and seeing as how punk rock and nostalgia go together like vomit and velour, the band was at a serious crossroads.

MGM Grand Garden, April 23, 2002

How does a veteran band like Green Day get its mojo back? Go on tour with one of its younger disciples and show ’em how it’s done. This is exactly what Green Day did on the testosterone-boosting “Pop Disaster” co-headlining outing with Blink-182. Green Day played first, which was bad news for Blink: Though the latter band was at its peak, and was always a lot of fun live, its loose, wiener-joke-heavy shows paled in comparison to how tight and invigorated Green Day was once it hit the stage. The chip on the band’s shoulder had grown boulder-sized, which Green Day would soon turn into a projectile to be hurled at a certain commander in chief.

The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel, Dec. 7, 2004; Thomas & Mack Center, Oct. 6, 2005; MGM Grand Garden, Dec. 6, 2005

With George W. Bush as pinata, Green Day thwacked itself back to relevancy and then some via 2004’s “American Idiot,” an of-the-times concept album flammable as a river of kerosene. More indebted to The Who than the Ramones, “Idiot” was an album of operatic-scope centered around a series of wayward protagonists struggling to find their way in a world they found to be as corporate and disposable as fast-food wrappings. Propelled by the success of “Idiot,” the band returned to being a top touring draw, hitting the road and staying there, hence this trio of Vegas shows in support of the album.

Mandalay Bay Events Center, Aug. 21, 2009

Like a belt-straining, post-buffet belly, this show was a tad overstuffed (probably could have done without that Tom Petty cover, fellas). But then again, so was the record Green Day was touring at the time, “21st Century Breakdown,” an even more conceptually dense effort than its predecessor. Thematically, the album was akin to a sack of marbles loosed on a patch of ice, all these narratives spinning in multiple directions at once. It was a lot to take in live, even when you had nearly three (!) hours to do so. Green Day has penned some timeless tunes; in places, this show felt like time had just stopped, period.

Thankfully, “Revolution Radio” has gotten the clock ticking once again.

Contact Jason Bracelin at jbracelin@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0476. Follow @JasonBracelin on Twitter.

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