My Chemical Romance

support LostAlone
author TL date 15/03/11 venue KB Hallen, Copenhagen, DEN

"Teenagers scare the living shit out of me". My Chemical Romance is going to sing that out from the stage of KB Hallen later tonight. This is sort of ironic, coming from a band to whom pubescent young rebels flock like moths to flame, and which is more than any other, a band that ignites the discussion of whether it is commendable for maturing music fans to 'get over' bands they appreciated in their younger years. I know quite a few people who argue such a case, eagerly trying to distance themselves from the generations that trail them, and so reminds them of the follies they engaged in during what must feel like yesterday to them. All the more power to those people I guess, although I personally think the idea is bullshit - If a band continues to release material of merit - which I think any objective listener should agree is the case with My Chemical Romance - then I find it sort of square and pretentious to abandon them just because your age or style isn't identical to that of the core of the fanbase.

That being said, the whole topic only comes up because at twenty five years of age, I'm likely among the oldest people in attendance, to not show up to protect my offspring. It's delightful to see, that despite the reduced promo-push accompanying the band's new album (as compared to that of "The Black Parade"), interest for the band doesn't seem to have waned much, even if the crowd that is slowly filling KB Hallen is mostly made of teenage misfits. Had we been able to secure an interview with the band, one question I would have asked them - other than "dudes, where are you hiding the bodies of your drummers" - would have been what they felt about so many 'tweens' being embarrased to count themselves fans, due to the band apparently having gained some sort of 'kiddy-rock' status. An interview didn't happen though, MCR are still mega-stars afterall, and Rockfreaks.net is - just like all the best bands - criminally under-appreciated. So you're just going to have to make do with some set-reviews and some awesome photos:

LostAlone

Last time LostAlone played in Denmark, I think was warming up for Enter Shikari four years ago, and seeing them on tonight's bill, I wonder if their touring the globe in support of more established bands, is what is delaying them so in getting out their sophomore album and maybe securing some headlining tours for themselves. From the looks of tonight, their confidence and comfortability in the support role certainly suggests that they're ready to take a step up, because in five songs, they manage to take a crowd that is flat out indifferent, into one that gladly sings along, claps along, and waves along. It's quite a feat actually, considering that the lights guy is seemingly trying to blind us all, and the sound guy is likely sitting in a traffic jam somewhere, judging from how KB Hallen's notorious acoustics do their worst to make the band's actual musical output sound like a blurry mess. None of this seems to phase the brit-punk/emo-rock trio though, as they perform their songs with enough energy, enough rock star moves and enough crowd interaction, to prove that they've tried this once or twice before. Towards the end of their set of eight or nine songs, it does seemingly start to hurt the crowd's attention-span that hardly anyone knows this band, but apart from that, LostAlone's set is probably the best warm-up money can buy, without paying someone to sort out the sound, and without hiring a band that would normally play headline shows instead. If this had sounded good in any way, the grade would be much higher:

My Chemical Romance

Generally, I believe that when you're an established band with money behind you, and the luxury of almost exclusively good material to choose from, you'll always start all gigs with a potential for a show the kind of which we grade 8, and then you have to go ahead and do something unfitting of your band's status, for you to drop beneath that. I want to start this review by saying that, and by saying that while I normally try to describe a live show chronologically as it proceeds, I won't do that here, for reasons I will reveal in a bit. Instead, I'll talk first about what I didn't like, then about what I did, and finally sum things up in the end.

Before the band even comes on, I'm already sort of disappointed just looking at the stage setup. This is supposedly the mother of all modern 'theatre-rock' bands, and it is quite clear that there are no elevated platforms, flags, massive screens or things that spout fire on stage. There are four X shapes at the back, and that's it, and while a big live production is by no means necessary, I do think that for someone like My Chemical Romance, this feels sort of stripped down, especially considering the ticket cost. As I watch the band come on, I tell myself that this is no problem, as long as they blow our socks off, but as the show opens just like the band's latest album, "Danger Days: The True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys", with a sampled introduction and then the single "Na Na Na", it's clear that's not happening to begin with, because the sound-man obviously still isn't here. Result: MCR's foremost traits of character, Gerard Way's voice and Ray Toro's lead guitar, drown in the muddy acoustics of KB Hallen, and things only improve very slightly over the course of the next four songs. What is worse is though, that during "Thank You For The Venom", "Planetary", "Hang 'Em High" and "Sing", most of the band seems less than eager to play. Gerard Way admits at one point that the band is indeed tired from a long tour, before assuring us that they are still happy to be here with us - an assurance that sounds hollow as his and Frank Iero's sporadic and mechanic looking moves cast them rather as men who would rather be with their families by now. As for Mikey Way, his live performance has always looked lazy even at the best of times, so I'm hard pressed to notice a change in him, but it means that Toro and touring drummer Michael Pedicone are the only ones who play like rock stars should, namely looking like you live solely to do just this.

Meanwhile, while the audience is naturally divided on the issue of which songs deserve the wildest reception, there doesn't seem to be any songs under which there's not a significant portion of people waving, clapping, screaming, singing or jumping along, and it speaks of both MCR's legend and their material, that their crowd is appreciative enough to ignore the lacklustre performance that characterizes most of the show. The word most however, I emphasize because there are actually moments in which the band seems to magically awaken from its slumber, or perhaps rather there are songs that are so good, that they automatically cause band and audience to give it a little bit extra. The first occurence of this strange power-surge, is during the brazen new song "Vampire Money", which for the first time has the band looking and sounding like they're having as much fun, as the "Danger Days" album sounds like it was to make. After a slight lull, the similarly rock'n'roll infused "House Of Wolves" sees a similar amplification, while the show soars for the longest time during the triplet of "I'm Not Okay", "Famous Last Words" and "DESTROYA", with the audience igniting things during the former, the band enjoying themselves during the latter, and everybody celebrating an awesome song during the intermediate. Oddly, super-single "Welcome To The Black Parade" gets a vibe that actually does say "okay, maybe we've all heard this song just one time too many". "Teenagers" comes across decently, and so would "Helena", if it wasn't for Gerard's by now antique crowd-interactive "sing whoa-oh-oh-oaoh!" being probably the most tired sounding line he sings all evening.

All in all, it is less than magic when "Cancer" closes the regular set, although a rather naked rendition by Gerard reveals that his singing is getting increasingly better with the years. Still though, ever the loyal little cultists, the fans clap and scream and stomp the floor dutifully, hoping for the band to return, while I pick up my things in the wardrobe, knowing it a certainty. What I don't predict, is how the encore is opened though, namely with a prolonged rendition of "Vampires Will Never Hurt You", a song from the band's debut album, that I have admittedly been waiting to hear live for ages. The song gets one of the most vivid performances of the night, and despite how well "Bulletproof Heart" proves to work in the live environment, it's almost a little anti-climactic when it ends the show, instead of it being the other way around.

Now, as I leave the building, weighing pros and cons, it is evident that through force of professionalism, strong material, dedicated fans and a handful of moments of true quality, this My Chemical Romance show wasn't by any stretch bad compared to many, many other shows I go and see in venues large and small. However, I am feeling a bit like Peter Pan, visiting Neverland as a grown up and finding it somewhat less enchanting. I guess people in bands are only human too, and it is natural for them to get tired on long tours, but as a fan, that's not what I want to see. I want to see magic, and a band of My Chem's reknown should be able to deliver that, not just for a handful of songs, but for a marathon-like parade of songs. Considering then, that at least half of tonight's show was all together mundane in comparison, it becomes quite clear that it only deserves a grade that marks it as having been short of 'great' and rather something between 'good' and 'okay'.

7

Tracklist:

  • 1. Na Na Na
  • 2. Thank You For The Venom
  • 3. Planetary (GO!)
  • 4. Hang 'Em High
  • 5. Sing
  • 6. Vampire Money
  • 7. Mama
  • 8. The Only Hope For Me Is You
  • 9. House Of Wolves
  • 10. Summer Time
  • 11. I'm Not Okay (I Promise)
  • 12. Famous Last Words
  • 13. DESTROYA
  • 14. Welcome To The Black Parade
  • 15. Teenagers
  • 16. Helena
  • 17. Cancer
  • Encore
  • 18. Vampires Will Never Hurt You
  • 19. Bulletproof Heart

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