My Chemical Romance
(Joe Louis Arena, Detroit, MI - February 28th, 2007)
My Chemical Romance - or as incessantly chanted by the crowd, the shortened MCR - is what we call in the trade an American Alternative rock band. Hailing from Belleville and Kearny, New Jersey, except drummer Bob Bryar, who is from Chicago, Illinois, MCR - and front man Gerard Way in particular - are heavily influenced rockers; performance artists of the highest caliber. With musical winks to The Misfits, Queen (thank you, Mr. B.) and even Adam Ant; and stage theatrics akin to horror films and comic books, Way's storytelling is top notch at all times.
With the entire set hidden behind a huge black drop cloth, the lights go down, the screams go up, and amongst all the chaos Way is wheeled in on a gurney underneath a white sheet. Once center stage, and with the apparatus now blinking red lights by the dozen, the chords (and medical equipment beeps) for 'The End.' are brought forth. Then, as if springing back to life, Way is singing the opening words whilst rising corpse-like from beneath the sheet.
Once those theatrics - and the rise and fall of two oversized black-and-white blimps - are out of the way, The Black Parade (for as they announced more than once, not MCR - two different bands entirely, just with the same members; and a severe case of white face make-up!) take the show on a 13 track, 100mph expressway joy ride. And for those that don't know, whether you were there or not, The Black Parade performed the entire Black Parade album in chronological track order! So we get everything sung from 'The End.' to 'I Don't Love You', and from 'House of Wolves' to 'Famous Last Words.' All sung by a band all uniform in their short black-and-silver jackets: akin to looking like Goth bellhops!
The building may have only been two-thirds full of cheerful teenagers, singing along to every funereal word, but the intensity given by both band and audience was incredible. And with Way being the sweetly solicitous ringleader supreme - a man clearly happy to be singing these grand emo songs in the place they really belong: an arena - it clearly didn't matter to he or them about the obvious lack of filled seats. Accompanied most all times by memorizing strobe lights, booming end-of-song explosions, and a pyro show that would have had Great White running for the doors, Way is always appreciative of the sea of bodies in front of him: "Welcome to The Black Parade and thank you for coming to our show."
In a way that worked for Green Day, given the oddball song structures and dramatic influences that The Black Parade is built on, the sense that this was some form of emo-musical for the disenchanted worked for The Black Parade / MCR / Whatever too. Even with its piano opening, the bombast of 'Welcome To The Black Parade' culled with the beat-swaying, cell phone lit (ala fireflies) unity of 'I Don't Love You,' to the pure rock 'n roll flavored 'House of Wolves' to the mini-opera (Kinks/RATM-style) of 'Mama,' all goes to prove that concept albums about the trip toward death might just be the new norm!
With their finale song 'Famous Last Words' sung, and the recorded words of 'Blood' now pounding through the speakers, a short intermission later and the band comes back out - dressed differently, although each member still swathed in their choice of black. Now freely announced by Way as MCR they return to play several songs from the album 'Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge' - a new guns and revenge logo back drop now in place behind them.
Playing such songs as 'I'm Not Okay (I Promise),' 'It's Not A Fashion Statement, It's a Deathwish,' the ballad-introduced 'The Ghost of You,' the band now known as MCR are just as focused, just as ready to rock. Finally bringing the entire show to an end with both 'You Know What They Do to Guys Like Us in Prison' and 'Helena,' Way thanx the audience once more for their love and support, waves fervently goodbye, and then disappears into the darkness beyond.
Review by: Russell A. Trunk