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Now they’ve put The Black Parade to bed, Gerard Way and co. are touring as comic book outlaws, the Fabulous Killjoys. In the past, My Chemical Romance have faced plenty of criticism, as well as tensions caused by addictions and depression, and triumph over such adversities has always been a constant in their work.
Take their latest album, Danger Days: The True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys. It is set a future-California where the Killjoys are always outnumbered and outgunned by evil corporation, Better Living Indutries (BL/ind), but despite their defeat being inevitable, the Killjoys continue to stand together and fight on. Comic book imagery aside, it is this idea of togetherness that fuels MCR fan’s passion. Waiting for a friend to turn up outside the arena, I watched middle aged men in vivid green eye makeup walking amongst legions of fans with dyed blood-red hair in tribute to lead singer Gerard Way. They were not to be disappointed.
As the curtain dropped away, the thousands of fans who had been screaming at the projected images of MCR’s latest reimagining were warmly welcomed into their world. After an introduction from the DJ who narrates Danger Day’s, the band launched straight into recent single and album opener Na Na Na and with that kicked off a relentlessly exciting set.
MCR are a band having fun, and that translates especially well in their live show. Frank Lero and Ray Toro bounced around the stage whilst they furiously punished their guitars, and their minor riff changes kept the set sounding fresh and spontaneous. I’d heard rumours that there was a time that Gerard Way’s voice was the weakest part of the band’s live show, but last night whether he was strutting up and down or moving with staccato jerks in time to the music, singing, or screaming with the mic clamped between his teeth, his, like the rest of the band’s performance was flawless.
Whether audience was encouraged to punch the sky, fill in the gaps, or put their lighters (and phone screens) in the air, they willingly followed their hero’s instructions and to look down on an arena full – literally full – of synchronised movement was a pretty incredible sight. A brilliant band led by a genuinely passionate front man, MCR gladly hijacks your attention and don’t let up until the final lights come on.
There was a brief pause when Way asked the audience if anyone had seen Rob Zombie play the previous night, this led on to a mini-jamming session as the rest of the band started playing Zombies’ Dracula before they realised where they were and carried on with the show. Unique moments like that, and Way’s frequent exchanges with the crowd, are how MCR keep you feeling like not just an observer but invited and involved in what they’re doing.
Their set featured a mix of songs from their back catalogue, and essential inclusions like I’m Not Okay (I Promise) and Welcome To The Black Parade were played alongside a stripped down piano take on The Ghost Of You and a version Teenagers packed with extra blues licks. There was only a one-song encore but as it was the live debut of the strongest song on the new album – Bulletproof Heart – it exceeded expectations and got perhaps the best reaction on a night that was full of exceeded expectations and excellent reactions.