For a band that broke up nearly a decade ago, My Chemical Romance — the toast of the 21st century emo-glam power-pop crowd — has never lost a beat when it comes to packaging. millennials, and those even younger, through 2022 reunion tour. The youthful exuberance and raucous adoration were immediately noticeable in attendance for MCR’s packed concert Monday night at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, a live showcase postponed for two years due to the pandemic downturn.
Performing to an overwhelming majority of teenage faces (and just past adolescence) — many of whom were dressed in the New Jersey band’s old brand of red and black — singer-lyricist Gerard Way’s school of song was, as always, dedicated to people deprived of their rights. , the insane and the aberrant. Taken from albums such as 2002’s “I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love” and 2006’s “The Black Parade”, every MCR moment from the past has spoken to current concerns of mental health, self-awakening and freedom from fear and shame.
In this way, Way (also beloved for his authorship of the ultimate graphic novel, “The Umbrella Academy,” now in its fourth and final season on Netflix) is something of a calming messiah, forever, for every child outcast. alive who has never felt alone or singled out. The high-pitched grunts, howls, and bellows Way made throughout the “Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na)” run were therapeutic primal cries. The empathetic rave-up of “I’m Not Okay (I Promise)” was dramatic, anthemic, and a true call to action for all the young people who have never felt heard.
Dressed for the occasion (Way wore baggy shorts, high-top sneakers, and a t-shirt that read “Pool Boy at the Vampire Mansion”), MCR kept their usual sartorial dramas for their raging setlist. Standing in front of red velvet curtains that have fallen to reveal a decimated cityscape, MCR kicked off with the new “The Foundations of Decay” – a slow, Hammer Horror-esque song with soaring Cure-like guitars that turned into a quick crunch-grossing track before its shouto finale.
With original guitarists Ray Toro, Frank Iero, brother-bassist Mikey Way, and touring drummer Jarrod Alexander delving into MCR’s hardcore roots for “Thank You for the Venom” and flourishes of “Give ‘Em Hell,” Kid,” the fast-paced songs never lacked intense, infectious choruses and bold, theatrical bridges worthy of a James Bond theme. The magnificent architecture of an MCR anthem like “House of Wolves” was as strong as it was soulful, filled with guitar solos, rapid time changes and thick beats before returning to the top position of their neo-emo -core.
Even at their briefest – say, “Boy Division” – MCR manages to pack more theatrics, harmony and melody into three minutes than anyone else. Such levels of grandeur, mastery of the tunes and lofty conceptualism were on full display during the piano-and-drums led ‘Welcome to the Black Parade’ and its immediate sequel, ‘Mastas of Ravenkroft’.
But the greatest of all theaters remained between the band and their audience on Monday night. When he wasn’t busy shoving his sweaty mop across his face or bouncing around the stage, Way interacted with the devoted Wells Fargo, directing their reactions like a maestro with flapping arms. He smiled precociously as he positioned his microphone toward the crowd during “Famous Last Words” and the raunchy and rarely performed “Vampires Will Never Hurt You.”
As he weaved his way through the boogie and snake-charming “Teenagers,” Way sang of memories of youth and the awkward prejudice he felt as a child.
They said, “All the teenagers are freaking me out
They won’t care as long as someone bleeds”
So darken your clothes or strike a violent pose
Maybe they’ll leave you alone, but not me
As Way embraced the lyrics to 2006’s “Teenagers,” cackling cleanly in his own way through its us versus them theme and rich pulse, the singer embraced the black parade of children before him in 2022, clutching them to his chest. And so the devotion was shared, collectively, between the crowd and their Chemical Romance. If “emo” truly represents emotion in its most punky way, then My Chemical Romance – 20 years after its debut – should cling to that tag forever if Monday’s show was any indication.