At the beginning of My Chemical Romance’s DVD Life on the Murder Scene, guitarist Frank Iero says his group “is definitely a band that wants to save your life.” Let’s all take a moment to be grateful that the punk-influenced New Jersey rock quintet only uses its powers for good. At Saturday night’s sold-out Pageant show, campy frontman Gerard Way exhorted the crowd to jump (they jumped), put their hands in the air (they put their hands in the air), scream (they screamed), clap (they clapped, although not always in time with the music) and, during, “Give ’Em Hell, Kid,” do their best jazz hands. O, the jazz hands!
The crowd also sang—nay, chanted!—along with every song, swayed to “Desert Song” (My Chem’s version of a torch song), jumped up and down to teen angst anthem “I’m Not Okay (I Promise),” and, yes, cried during “Cancer” as Way crooned, “The hardest part of this is leaving you.”
The show lacked a little luster and was uncharacteristically low-key – but then again, My Chemical Romance has been on tour supporting its third album, The Black Parade, since early 2007, so it’s no wonder the band is exhausted.
While drummer Bob Bryar shared a cigarette with Iero between songs, Gerard explained that they’re going on a two year hiatus to relax and record a new album, saying, “Our bodies gotta take a break! You get old… you get tired,” and when he told the crowd, “I’m 31 now!” the grandmother behind me, there with her daughter and her daughter’s daughter, laughed. (Several close by teenagers, though, looked horrified. 31—that’s so old!)
The fans, however, are indefatigable. More than a few had been waiting in line for the show since 7 a.m., dressed head to toe in My Chemical Romance gear: hoodies, fingerless gloves, T-shirts and messenger bags. Several fans there were also dressed up as members of the band. (An uncountable number of kids wore an X over each eye like guitarist Frank Iero used to, although I only counted two fans dedicated enough to paint a stripe of makeup horizontally over their eyes, in a nod to Gerard Way.)
Not to diss the band, but the crowd was definitely the highlight of the evening. More MILFs than a Van Halen show! More little kids than a Cobra Starship show! The audience boasted everyone from toddlers in Avenged Sevenfold T-shirts to grandmothers in MIKEY FUCKIN WAY T-shirts. The kid to my left couldn’t have been older than six years old; sitting on his father’s shoulders, he sang his heart out to every single song. (Which makes me wonder: What exactly does a six-year-old get out of the lyrics “And without you is how I disappear”?)
Set list highlights included a rendition of the b-side “Kill All Your Friends” (with the commentary: “We can play whatever the fuck we want on this tour!”), one of the guitar techs playing harmonica during “Teenagers” and a lovely, soulful piano solo from new keyboardist James Dewees (formerly of Reggie and the Full Effect, the Get Up Kids, and Coalesce).
Guitarist Ray Toro, hands down one of the most amazing guitar players of his generation, requested a set change during the beginning of “Vampires Will Never Hurt You” so that he could play one of his favorites, “Desert Song,” an unreleased track from the Life on the Murder Scene DVD. That DVD, Gerard told us, was made to encourage people to not waste their lives. “Go out!” he yelled at the crowd. “Start a band, do something productive! Do something creative! Start a band, make movies, draw comics!”
They closed the show with “Helena,” a song that’s a tribute to Gerard and Mikey Way’s late grandmother. “Jump!” shouted Gerard -- and everyone jumped.
My Chemical Romance, "Helena":
-- Anna Genoese