My Chemical Romance at the Astoria was the kind of gig that made me nostalgic for bad eye make up and rows with my mum. How else can you listen to songs with names that sound like teen horror flicks – You Know What They Do To Guys Like Us In Prison and Cemetery Drive? But all that hard rock gothic bedroom angst can only go so far and then you need to have a good laugh. And there was more than a hint of tongue rammed firmly in cheek in MCR’s swaggering frontman Gerard Way’s angry injunctions to the audience.
Well, what other explanation can there be for this preacher man to instruct us ladies to “spit in the fucking faces” of any bouncer who asks us to flash our tits for a backstage pass? MCR: the new Germaine Greer? I think not. Whatever. The audible increase in the pitch of the screaming at the Astoria implied he had hit the spot with the girls anyway.
It wasn’t just the ladies who got their rocks off at this packed Saturday night gig. Plenty of boys were having a good time too, and who can blame them? MCR’s mock-goth angry stances played with the conviction of raw rock and rollers is always going to be a crowd pleaser with nice white kids in search of a little rebellion and a lot of understanding.
In Way these kids have found a saviour and the teen bunnies at the Astoria would have followed him into oblivion if he asked them in one of his homilies dolled out between tracks. But this East Coast goth’s philosophy is not that deadly. In fact his sermons seemed inspired by Woody Allen rather than Marilyn Manson. “If you are depressed then you have to find someone to fucking talk to. Suicide is shit,” he screamed, and the crowd said yes before crashing into Headfirst for Halos. Ah, bless.
Way struts around the stage with all the confidence of a major league Rock Star. Astonishing really when you think his outfit only got together post 9/11, releasing their first album I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love in 2002 after Gerard’s brother Mikey had learned to play bass and join in the fun. And they do have fun: plunging into loud, proud renderings of Give ‘Em Hell Kid, Thank You For the Venom and, for the encore, Helena, Way’s swaggering was matched by the rest of the band, especially guitarist Frank Lero, who raced around like a demented hamster, hammering his axes with the self-consciousness of a boy who has spent far too long watching Beavis and Butthead.
The band has in a short time gone from new faces to Great White Hope in the US pop scene, and their label Reprise is pushing hard for their success to be repeated over here. Both Bullets and latest release Three Cheers For Sweet Romance were thoroughly showcased for the newbies in the audience. But judging by the singing most present had spent a lot of time listening to the CDs in their bedrooms. And who can blame them? My Chemical Romance articulate a certain type of teenage trauma and live play with a raging energy that is hard to resist.