Marching On To Conquer All
It's a trick that not many bands would even contemplate let alone get away with but then My Chemical Romance aren't like many bands. Doused in a hail of missiles at last year's Reading Festival only to later claim the show as one of their favourites and seen as the scourge of today's youth, the most threatening thing to descend upon the young in years, the New Jersey outfit have always stood apart from the crowd and with their realisation of The Black Parade tour they are only widening the gap deciding to not only take the huge risk of playing their concept album in its entirety but adopting the persona of their alter egos, the military attired The Black Parade in the process, going as far as promoting the whole concert as The Black Parade supporting My Chemical Romance. Few would have tried; fewer would have pulled it off but then there is really only one MCR.
With the room in total darkness the faint bleeps of a heart monitor echo through the crowd as a spotlight suddenly shines on the solitary hospital bed from which Gerard Way sits up and proceeds to welcome "all to this tragic affair" kicking of The Black Parade tour in over the top dramatics and transforming the seaside venue into a cancer ward. Discarding his patient's gown to reveal the Sergeant Pepper-esque Black Parade uniform, Way is joined by the rest of the 'The Black Parade' as they stampede into 'Dead!', complete with a pogoing Ray Toro who seems intent to bounce around every inch of the stage.
Continually announcing themselves as The Black Parade, the New Jersey quintet proceed to play their latest album in order, much to the pleasure of the enthusiastic crowd. 'Welcome To The Black Parade' receives a rousing sing along as explosions send black and white confetti streaming across the crowd whilst 'House Of Wolves' plunges the faithful followers into hell with pyrotechnics flaming across the stage. Throughout Gerard Way parades across the stage in full Black Parade character, commanding the crowd with his every move from the stumbling desperation of the near-death patient in 'Cancer' to the disenchanted soldier in the vaudeville 'Mama', bursting into moch crying at the end before looking over his shoulder and cheekily remarking "oh shit" as if he'd been caught out.
However, for all his dramatics the frontman was arguably upstaged tonight by none other than drummer Bob Bryar. The usually quiet sticksman proudly sat atop a corrugated circular riser that slowly spun, allowing Bryar to switch to another drum kit accordingly. It was however his sheer bravery, or indeed stupidity, for which the Chicago based drummer deserved applause. Having been badly burned by the pyrotechnics whilst making the video for 'Famous Last Words', Bryar was once again sat surrounded by flames that shot out from around him, sending blasts of heat across the now sweat drenched kids who are willingly screeching their lungs out to the final lines of album closer 'Famous Last Words' before The Black Parade ceremoniously announce that next up are My Chemical Romance, who are ok if you like that kind of shit.
And so, with The Black Parade making their exit it seems it's now time for My Chemical Romance to make their entrance. Gone is the skeletal make up, gone are the marching band uniforms and gone are the stage show theatrics. Instead we get old school MCR, dressed in their usual black street clothes and accompanied only by the Revenge back drop as they blast out hits from 2004's 'Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge'. Pummelling into 'I'm Not Okay' the exhausted crowd are suddenly revived, mosh pits sprouting up energetically as the back to basics MCR prove that they don't need gadgets and gimmicks to put on a great show; sure it may be fun but they certainly don't rely on it. Hit after energetic hit flow as 'Cemetery Drive' makes way for 'Thank You For The Venom', slowing only for a moment to, as Way states,try and contact the dead with 'The Ghost Of You'. What we also get with the Revenge led MCR is stage banter with Way interacting with the audience, revealing that he has problems with the zipper on his jeans tonight but he loves them too much to throw them out followed by a discussion with Bryer about how bright his ridiculously yellow sneakers are, jokingly adding that this is the longest he's even talked on stage before the MCR boys lead the crowd in singing Happy Birthday to one of their crew.
Whilst the theatrics of The Black Parade are invigoratingly amazing, you can't help but to notice how relaxed the band appear when returning for the 'encore', vigorously whizzing through 'Hang 'Em High' before delivering a frantically charged rendition of 'You Know What They Do To Guys Like Us In Prison', climaxing in the usual closer of 'Helena', as always greeted with a wall of crowd vocals and appreciation for the band claiming to be the leaders of 'the beaten and the damned' and whether they choose to be The Black Parade or simply MCR, it's clear that this is one show that will continue to march on and eclipse them all.