Step 1 of becoming a rock star: play Bell Centre with Green Day when you're 11

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Step 1 of becoming a rock star: play Bell Centre with Green Day when you're 11

Vanessa Hermo is worried that she can never take her son to a concert ever again.

"Every concert I bring him to is never going to compare."

She bought tickets for her son to Wednesday night's concert at the Bell Centre months ago — as soon as she heard Green Day was coming to Montreal. 

Green Day was the first concert she ever went to, back in 1995. She wanted her 11-year-old son, Nathan Guilbault, to have the same experience. His dream is to become a rock star.

"He plays a lot of their songs. He's always been a fan and I thought it would be really cool [because Green Day] was actually my first concert."

But Nathan's experience at Wednesday night's show was far beyond what his mother ever could have imagined.

Halfway through the concert, frontman Billie Joe Armstrong peered into the crowd, asking if anyone knew how to play the guitar.

Nathan, who has been playing guitar for five years, started jumping up and down to get Armstrong's attention — and so did people sitting around him.

"For some reason, even the people on the row in front of me were jumping up and down for me," Nathan told CBC.

It was enough to get Armstrong's attention.

"He looked me directly in the eyes and he said, 'Do you swear you play the guitar?' I said, 'Yes,' so he said, 'OK, get up here now!'"

Armstrong showed Nathan three chords to play during the song Knowledge, and strapped the guitar around Nathan's shoulder.

"He forces me down the catwalk, which is where all the fans are around you. At the start, I was nervous, but as I was playing there was nothing on my mind, except thinking about playing."

Fans captured the moment on their cell phones, while Hermo watched in disbelief.

"I was in shock," Hermo said. "I was videotaping it at the time, and my videos didn't even turn out. I was shaking and crying."

For Nathan, it's a memory he'll cherish for life.

"That feeling, there is no other word that I can use to describe it but amazing. I went from [playing in front of] 200 at a talent show at my school to 15,000."

At the end of the song, as fans chanted Nathan's name, Armstrong told him he could keep the guitar.

"I think that that was pretty awesome … I went crazy on the stage and I think there will never be anything like that."

The guitar was autographed by Green Day's Armstrong, bassist Mike Dirnt and drummer Tré Cool. Nathan has barely put it down since.

"I am going to play it every day and when I get older I will put it in a showcase and leave it there."