My Chemical Romance: The Forum, LA; Saturday, March 10
Blimps, flames and hospital beds: a sneaky peek into what’s on the UK tour
“We came here tonight to rip your motherfucking faces off,” Gerard Way screams at the 18,000-strong crowd before him. The crowd roar back in approval. “Every last one of you is a fucking animal,” he continues, dark-haired and white-faced and gesturing like a sinister puppet master, clearly intoxicated with power. Again, the crowd lap it up. Some of them have queued for six hours to hear this abuse. Not many bands deal in mutual loathing, but then not many bands are like My Chemical Romance.
But hang on just one minute. Isn’t this vision of vitriol – of anger and defiance – the very same person who was wheeled out onstage lying on a hospital trolley only moments ago?
The unfettered adulation – and a fair amount of theatrics – have bolstered emo’s prime pin-up, injecting life into the fragile Frankenstein creation, who’s now striding across the stage, bowing one minute and reaching skyward the next, leading the charge of The Black Parade. “Do you have the juice?” he challenges as they tear through the album, his face contorting into a question mark. “Then let’s fucking see you dance.” And dance we do. Weak patient or arrogant ringleader, dark prophet or narcissistic lunatic, Gerard leads a tight-knit unit – a brigade that take their role as saviours of “the broken, the beaten, and the damned” very seriously. Dressed in those matching black-and-white Sgt Pepper’s-style jackets, My Chemical Romance are back, ready to wrench every last ounce of emotion out of themselves and all of their fans.
Things calm down as the soft piano of ‘Welcome To The Black Parade’ wafts through the arena, black-and-white blimps rising up from each side of the stage. While we’re pondering their use as metaphors for the band’s lofty ambitions, the other 17,999 people couldn’t care less, they’re screaming like banshees over ear-puncturing cannon cracks and wilting over the image of Gerard covered in confetti. ‘Mama’ coddles her demonic children as flames burst from the stage, and by the time they reach ‘Famous Last Words’, and its croons of “But where’s your heart/Where’s your heart”, the sweat-drenched kids on the floor would have gladly ripped their hearts out of their chests and offered them, bloody and beating, at the feet of the band.
Having run through ‘The Black Parade’ in its entirety, it appears the band are saying goodnight. But wait, there’s more. And not just an encore, no sir. A whole hell of a lot more. After a few minutes backstage, they’ve transmogrified from tragic, gothic storytellers back to the punk-rock band of old. In black street clothes and in front of the word ‘REVENGE’ they drop hardcore hits from 2004’s ‘Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge’, reinstating the moshpit and making the guy with the hospital bed nervous that he’s going to be called back out for real.
“Thank you for being our cell mates,” Gerard shouts before bringing the carnival to a crashing end and bidding us adieu. “Don’t you ever surrender, and don’t you ever fucking forget!” No way, Mr Way. No way.