It’s a dicey proposition – seeing a band you love play live for the first time. You’ve had countless hours to dissect their records, learn their lyrics and form an opinion about the whole shebang. My Chemical Romance had the potential to fall flat – especially how breathy and unfit Gerard Way’s vocals is in live DVD The Black Parade is Dead!. Nowadays he’s a much sexier, more controlled singer.
As the voice-over called “Look Alive, Sunshine” kicked off – the crowd went nuts knowing of the kamikaze twin-guitar bombs about to be dropped with pseudo-Japanese punk rawker, “Na Na Na”. (Don’t you think this song make for a more effective Australian Banana’s advertising campaign?). I couldn’t see it, but there must have been a collapse at the front of the stage towards the end of the song, as Way warned fans “to start helping each other up, or the show wouldn’t go on until they got their shit together.”
The band effortlessly jumped back and forth through different periods of their career, from the heavy-riffage of “Thank You For The Venom” from 2004’s Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge to the blitzkrieg siren-pomp pop of Danger Days’ “Planetary (GO!)”. All use of synthesizers were tasteful, I might add, never overpowering this behemoth of a rock band. “Mama” sans Liza Minelli soon followed as guitarist Frank Iero (who missed MCR’s last Australian tour due to an explosive dental incident) blazed through power chords and lead breaks like fretboard spot fires, using his trusty Wilshire Phant-o-Matic.
New drummer, Berklee College of Music graduate Jarrod Alexander scorched through the set, with great balance of urgent punk rock tempos and Nick Mason-esque epic rock flamming. I was interested to see how “Summertime” – MCR’s most blatant reference to The Smashing Pumpkins (“Did anyone else hear 1979 there?”) not to mention The Cure – came off surprisingly jovial, changing my mind about the song. Live gigs can do that to the critic inside.
Gone were the black-tangled Sgt. Pepper-marching band outfits (or even any hint of the Danger Days concept or outfits). It was a simply dressed affair, proving the focus was solely on the music. “Sleep”, “DESTROYA” and “S/C/A/R/E/C/R/O/W” soon followed, as glammy hit “Teenagers” provoked a gigantic sing-a-long as the standing area went bat shit crazy.
Diehard fans didn’t mind fang-banging in the mosh with the one, two Vampire pop-punk punch of The Twilight Saga-bashing “Vampire Money” and “Vampires Will Never Hurt You”, only one of two songs from the band’s debut album I Brought You Bullets, You Brought Me Love, along with the earlier-occuring “Our Lady of Sorrows”.
The set ended in a more epic, sprawling fashion than the hell for leather, harsh tempos that opened it, closing out with “Helena”, “Welcome to the Black Parade” and a touching rendition of Black Parade-ballad “Cancer” replete with a very evocative tinkle on the keys from James Dewees, with Gerard spot on vocally.
The obligatory encore pulled the ripcord on the My Chemical Romance whipper-snipper antics as they charged back into “I’m Not Okay (I Promise)”. Leading into latest single “The Kids From Yesterday”, Way went on a bit of a rant, telling the audience to “just fucking be something, in times of good or bad”, in the most un-articulate way possible (hey, they just slammed through a two hour concert, so I’ll allow some leniency there), before closing with the grandiose “Famous Last Words”.
Whilst there was a lot of material I wanted to see from both The Black Parade and Danger Days (where the hell was “Sing”, guys?) – it was still a great show, very euphoric, full of killer anthems and no filler. Definitely didn’t get whored out at The Hordern this time.
– Matt Petherbridge