Review by Melanie Brehaut for MPM
When emo rock superstars My Chemical Romance abruptly announced their split in March 2013, hearts all around the world were broken as fans mourned the loss of one of the most explosive and inventive bands of the twenty-first century.
After total radio silence for over six years, their Instagram account suddenly sprang back to life again on Halloween eve 2019, showing an array of symbols and pictures. Could it be? COULD IT…?
Happily, it was indeed true: the band had got back together, and were ready to go again. They announced a comeback date in California for that December, which sold out in approximately two millionths of a second and showed a band that were, in equal parts, delighted to be back and blown away by the delirious reception they received. Further shows were announced, including the UK and Ireland, which duly sold out in mere minutes.
And then, of course, as we all know, Covid hit the planet and put paid to pretty much everything fun for two years, including gigs. Shows were rescheduled and rescheduled again, finally culminating in the run of shows in Cornwall and Milton Keynes. And then it was Ireland’s turn, with fifteen thousand fans turning up to pack the grounds of the old hospital in Kilmainham, Dublin.
Openers Starcrawler began while the venue was still filling up, which is always a tough task, but they took to it with aplomb, delighting the crowd with their fizzing, quirky alt-rock tunes, including favourite ‘I Love LA’ and new track ‘Bet My Brains’.
Next up was new sensation Gayle, all two-coloured hair and cutesy fluffy jumper, who sings about sex, drugs and rock and roll (including a raucous cover of Joan Jett’s ‘Bad Reputation’) in a beautifully soulful voice, then practically squeals with delight while talking to the crowd. Astonishingly, the young songstress is just seventeen years of age, meaning she wasn’t even born when My Chemical Romance came into being. She finishes with her four million-steaming track ‘ABCDEFU’, which goes down an absolute treat with the crowd, ending rather adorably thus: “You can all fuck off THANK YOU SO MUCH!”.
At promptly 8.45pm a vibrating, static-y sound begins to emerge from the speakers and suddenly the crowd’s full attention is on the stage. After a few minutes of almost unbearable tension, it happens: My Chemical Romance, onstage in Ireland for the first time since February 2011. The crowd, understandably, goes crazy, almost drowning out frontman Gerard Way as he begins the crooning intro to surprise new single ‘Foundations of Decay’.
“Hello Dublin! We heard this is the happiest place on Earth. Let’s go!” he shouts, before the band ratchet it up several notches as they launch into mega-hit ‘I’m Not Ok’. Judging by the ecstatic look on everyone’s faces, he’s got that dead right.
Once again, the band seem astonished at the level of adoration (and volume) from the crowd, with Gerard remarking “holy shit!” at the end of the song. He continues to comment on this throughout the gig, exchanging delighted glances with the rest of the band.
As they progress through their set, throwing in tracks from every stage of their career (including the live debut of ‘Tomorrow’s Money’ from Conventional Weapons and previously unloved first single ‘Skylines and Turnstiles’, which they’ve finally decided to air after all this time), they are clearly having the time of their lives: all four are wreathed in smiles and are constantly interacting with each other, something that was rather amiss prior to their break up.
Gerard even tells the crowd “all those years in the band we never had fun…everything was always so STRESSFUL”, giving us a brief insight into the reason for the break up as well as why they are so happy now.
A story of how he met his lovely wife (Lyn-z, from bonkers rock band Mindless Self Indulgence) is rewarded with an “awwwww” from the crowd, while a quick mention of the sadly departed Chester Bennington earns a solemn, respectful round of applause. This has always been My Chemical Romance’s strength: the ability to play in front of any size of crowd and create a connection that is as warm as it is passionate.
Their other strength is, of course, the music, and they do not disappoint tonight. Every album is touched upon, from the aforementioned ‘Skylines’ from their first album I Bought You My Bullets, You Bought Me Your Love, to Conventional Weapons tracks, with a solid dose of everything in between. And when they played that opening G note from ‘The Black Parade’ – well. There were tears, screams, and probably the loudest singalong of the night. Magical.
Gerard is in fine voice indeed, hitting every note and having fun with it. He faithfully sticks to the songs, allowing the fans to sing with him, while chatting between songs like he’s having the time of his life. “I look around and I just see joy” he marvels, to the delight of the fans, who are looking at the stage and seeing the same thing. The band are positively giddy with delight, running around the stage like kids at a birthday party and clearly having an absolute ball. It’s so damn heartwarming that it genuinely brings a tear to the eye.
They finish with a triple-whammy: the sawing, energetic ‘Vampire Money’; ‘Mama’, their most fun song, despite the morbid lyrics (peak emo MCR right there), and the gloriously positive ‘Famous Last Words’, during which the crowd roars along to the bridge, before they depart the stage. Is it over?
Of course not, that’s what encores are for! They astonish the crowd with ‘Skylines’ before finishing in a blaze of triumph with the beautiful, theatrical ‘Helena’. “So long and goodnight”, indeed.
Regardless of what happens in the future with My Chemical Romance, these gigs will go down in history. Life affirming, moving, honest, and fabulously fun, they show a band that has left the gloom of the past behind and is embracing the enjoyable parts of being in a rock band again.
Whatever you want to call it – rediscovering their joy, getting their mojo back – it’s clear that they’re doing it. And it really is a beautiful thing to see. They are ok (I promise).
The Foundations of Decay
I’m Not Ok (I Promise)
Give ‘Em Hell, Kid
The Only Hope For Me Is You
House of Wolves
Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na)
It’s Not a Fashion Statement, It’s a Fucking Deathwish
The Ghost of You
Welcome to the Black Parade
Famous Last Words
Skylines and Turnstiles
Photography by MPM