“Fuck the papers telling mis-truths!” bawls Gerard Way, striking romantic poet poses and waving thorny roses in his ribbed military jacket and zombie-white hair, looking for all the (under)world like the decomposing cadaver of Lord Byron. And, as the screams of emo unity in the face of chavvy derision rattle the rafters, the chant begins: “FUCK THE DAILY MAIL! FUCK THE DAILY MAIL!”
The Black Parade has arrived in London, eager to bellow out its anthems of anguish with the undead goth-sex generals of My Chemical Romance. While the National Emo Threat has been grossly overestimated – unless the military is currently quaking behind barricades in fear of an assault by the army of ‘troubled’ 15-year-old girls who make up 98 per cent of tonight’s crowd – the passion and full-throated commitment to the MCR cause paraded here is a force to be feared. It’d be a foolish metalhead who lobs the first piss bottle tonight – these girls got balls.
In the War On Emo – waged because of their development of weapons of mass compassion – Gerard Way makes for a mighty Montgomery. The right-wing press’ babble about the “dangers” of emo for impressionable youths is obviously knee-jerk reaction bullshit. MCR play songs of empathy and catharsis, from the pomp pop opening of ‘The End’ to the rabble-rock brilliance of closer ‘Helena’; their shows (stripped of any theatrics for an “intimate” experience tonight) are an opportunity to exorcise your churning existential ennui alongside like-minded problem children. But nonetheless, Way embraces the role of fightback figurehead with relish. “They cannot stop this!” he barks between motivational speeches about ‘being yourself’ and being ‘better than them’, “because they cannot stop you!” Message received loud and clear, Gerard: we are life’s underdogs, hear us howl.
For all their ‘new freak generation’ tub-thumping they’re as mainstream as ‘alternative’ rock music gets – ‘The End’ is anthemic bluster of almost Floyd-ish pomposity; ‘Dead!’ is a song about cancerous decay so chirpy you could slap a horn section on it and call it Britpop; there’s an Abba song being hacked to shreds somewhere within ‘I’m Not OK (I Promise)’; ‘Welcome To The Black Parade’ opens with the evil twins of The Polyphonic Spree performing a human sacrifice to the moon, and ‘Mama’, for all its sinister cries of “Mama, we’re all going to Hell”, is essentially a carnival-barn dance romp that sounds like Nick Cave’s written a song for Fiddler On The Roof. That’s not rock, is it? ‘I Don’t Love You’ is Coldplay gone goth, ‘Famous Last Words’ is Grease gone goth and ‘Cancer’ is, gulp, Chris De Burgh gone goth. Even ‘Teenagers’ – MCR’s call to arms created to unite the new emo generation against The Enemy – is a Chas’n’Dave style cockernee knees-up with a strong whiff of the Mary Poppins chimney-sweep about it. It is, oh yes, ‘Country House’ gone goth.
And this is what makes MCR so brilliant. They’re demolishing the gates of small-minded emo isolationism with massive cannonballs of pop-rock majesty, and their live set is nothing short of scintillating; an epic, chest-bursting, gloriously eclectic, dark and imaginative display of all that is tuneful and good in the New Emo Order.
So My Chemical Romance are for girls, you say? Better wise up boy, climb on board – The Black Parade is about to leave without you.