My Chemical Romance: Hammersmith Palais, London; Tuesday, August 22

Gerard Way’s new, dark alter-ego spooks the fans

“I’m so excited!” squeals Nicki in the queue tonight. “They’re my favourite band ever!” chirps her boyfriend Mike. “Hey! Is that an aftershow pass?” adds Nicky, clawing for NME’s laminate. “I’ll suck you off for it.” Mike doesn’t bat an eyelid. NME feels violated. To say people are excited about having their piece of My Chemical Romance tonight is like saying the ocean is ‘a bit wet’.

So imagine the scene when seconds before stage time, the words, “Due to unforeseen circumstances, My Chemical Romance are unable to perform this evening…” are broadcast over the PA. Cue pandemonium. “However,” continues the voice, “My Chemical Romance’s good friends The Black Parade have kindly stepped in as a replacement.” Cue people going absolutely apeshit, a chorus of boos, people flicking the bird and throwing anything they have to hand at the band. Oh, and tears. People here are heartbroken.

Hang on though, isn’t that blond guy Gerard Way, only three stone lighter than when we last saw him, and without his blazer and tie? And aren’t his bandmates to either side of him, sporting similar attire and launching into new song ‘Dead!’? One by one the crowd twig – it is My Chemical Romance! Cue delirium. Cue people going absolutely apeshit. Only differently from before. As they launch into their mopus operandi ‘I’m Not Okay (I Promise)’, faces beam and when Gerard explains that ‘The Black Parade’ is merely the name of their forthcoming October-released album (their very own ‘American Idiot’, if reports are to be believed), relief floods the room.

New songs come thick and fast; ‘I Don’t Love You’ (a bruising power ballad), ‘House Of Wolves’ and the disturbingly saccharine ‘Cancer’ (“I’m still soggy from the chemo,” croons Gerard). Then the room twigs en masse. My Chemical Romance are next year’s biggest band. Today.

“That was amazing,” chirps Nicky. “They’re going to be the biggest band in the world.” Disturbingly Mike is nowhere to be seen – and his girlfriend’s got a laminate. Come October, there’ll be no stopping the march of The Black Parade.

James Jam