My Chemical Romance House of Blues May 20, 2011
See Friday's Black Parade in our slideshow.
Less than a third of the way through Friday night's show, as the dark and ominous riffs of "Mama" faded out, vocalist Gerard Way dropped to the floor, and the stage lights abruptly went out. It was so abrupt, it seemed as though a fuse might have blown.
The stage slowly began to illuminate, and guitarists Frank Iero and Ray Toro began softly strumming their guitars. As the tune grew in intensity, Way crawled toward the edge of the stage and began lifting himself up, using the mike stand as leverage.
Just when the instrumental reached its climax, Way leapt up, threw his arms into the air in dramatic fashion and screamed. The crowd followed along, shouting and cheering as the spacey tones of "The Only Hope For Me Is You" began to resonate through the building.
This is rock and roll for the 21st century, and its fans expect theatrics with their music. And My Chemical Romance isn't exactly lacking in that department.
Watching a band develop is a lot of fun, and MCR have done just that. Yet, they have managed to stay true to their roots while doing so. Sure, their new album The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys sounds nothing like any of their prior work, but the familiar themes are all still there: Vampires, dystopian societies and, of course, a permeating theme of not letting the bastards get you down, which has been the band's manifesto since its inception in 2001.
The last time we saw MCR was in 2006. This time around, five years later, they are promoting the new album, a sleeper-hit follow-up to 2006's critically acclaimed The Black Parade.
And they are doing so in dramatic fashion. Friday night, at a sold-out House of Blues, MCR put on the most pulse-pounding, fan-fanatical and by-and-large entertaining shows Aftermath has seen at the venue since the Dead Weather rocked the house just over a year ago.
From the first song, MCR had the crowd chanting along, in unison, to every word of such infectious tunes as "Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na)," which may very well be the catchiest song of the last decade. Look it up if you don't believe us.
The entire night was a colossal singalong like nothing we've ever heard, chock full of sweat and tears (of joy, we assume), without any blood (at least, not that we saw). While many critics give MCR and their fans a hard time, writing off the band as "emo," unoriginal and altogether too radio-friendly for their precious ear canals, the band has unquestionably figured out how market albums, sell out venues and keep crowds happy.
And they, along with their fans, have had a lot of fun in the process.
Bouncing back and forth between songs from Danger Days and Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge, the sophomore release that propelled them to stardom, MCR had the crowd's full attention for the entire evening, and they sounded damn good doing so.
With fans this loyal, shows this impressive and an altogether optimistic attitude, who exactly is it that's ragging on these guys? Not us. We'll take upbeat and exciting over sinister and boring any day. But hey, maybe we just aren't artsy enough.
As MCR began to play "Helena," the band's breakthrough hit off Three Cheers, the crowd packed in tightly for what we all assumed would bring the night to a close. The song, an homage to Way's grandmother, whom he credits with keeping the band afloat through its formative years, got the crowd screaming and chanting.
"One more song! One more song! MCR! MCR!" they screamed, until Way finally appeared back onstage five minutes later.
Aided only by a piano, the crowd quickly hushed as Way began to sing "Cancer," written from the perspective of a man dying from the disease. The words, however, transcended the song's original meaning as fans waved their lighters and cell phones in the air.
"The hardest part of this is leaving you."
Personal Bias: We fell in love with Black Parade, finding solace in its uplifting message after the death of a friend. It's not that their new album disappointed us, but it didn't strike us quite the way its predecessor did. Still, it's a solid album in its own right, and the band's new direction makes for quite a show as well. It's too bad Danger Days came out on the same day as Kanye West's My Beautiful, Dark, Twisted Fantasy, which we're sure cost it a lot of media attention.
The Crowd: Young, energetic and wild. All smiles, too. No fights, at least none that we saw).
Overheard In the Crowd: "I think a raccoon did her makeup."
Random Notebook Dump: Did you know that Marilyn Manson and MCR had a feud going for a short while? Manson called the band "sad and pitiful," remarking that their makeup and stylistic choices were blatant imitations of what he had done in the past.
In fact, "Mutilation is the Most Sincere Form of Flattery," off 2007's Eat Me, Drink Me is supposedly about the band, featuring such subtle lyrics as "Hey, there's no rules today/ You steal instead of borrow/ You take all the shapes that I've made/ And you think that you thought all the thoughts that I thought/ Don't you?/ Fuck you."
"Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na)" Give 'Em Hell, Kid Planetary (Go!) Hang 'Em High Mama Instrumental The Only Hope For Me Is You House of Wolves Summertime I'm Not Okay (I Promise) Vampire Money DESTROYA The Black Parade Sing Teenagers Vampires Will Never Hurt You Helena
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Cancer Bulletproof Heart