Live Music + Gig Reviews

My Chemical Romance @ Brixton Academy, London

12 November 2006

My Chemical Romance

My Chemical Romance

“The combination of all of us and all of you is very fucking dangerous because we have something to fucking say,” Gerard Way will shout to the audience towards the end of tonight’s show. “We want you to stay who the fuck you are. Don’t take anyone’s fucking bullshit because you’re better than them.”

He will recite this just before launching into Give ‘Em Hell Kid and it is this, better than the skeletal military jacket he will by then have discarded in favour of a black blazer, and better than the silver hair that has saved him from looking like a Meatloaf mini-me, that you will either get or you won’t. You see, Goths are better than other people and you’re either with us or you’re against us. There is no middle ground.

My Chemical Romance are very clever lads. Cynically or sincerely, they have uncovered the one, true dark secret of Goth: rather than being about sitting on your own in a lonely bedsit, listening to miserable songs and feeling sorry for yourself (that’s what The Smiths are for), Goth is about dressing up and showing off. It’s about making an impression, layering on more make-up than the next kid, doing things with your hair that take hours and will upset your teacher/mother/boss, and most of all, it’s about romance.

That’s right, Goth is about romance. There’s the obsession with death, but even that is with the romance of death rather than the misery of it, which is gloriously apparent on songs like Cancer (“The hardest part of this is leaving you”) and To The End (“If you marry me will you bury me? Will you carry me to the end?”) both of which will be aired tonight.

Dress like a Goth, head off to the first day in a new flat, club, college or job and you’re immediately staking your claim. You can instantly identify the other people (ie. other Goths) who are worth talking to. My Chemical Romance’s genius is that they’ve started their own gang and only the people worth talking to are invited to the party. Come and join us.

Dressed straight from The Black Parade video, they open on The End, with its gloriously overblown music hall pomp as Gerard Way struts like a latter day Freddie Mercury across the stage. Dead!, This is How I Disappear and Not Okay (I Promise) follow in quick succession as the crowd provide so much accompaniment that you wonder if the band really needed to turn up at all, dancing, waving and brandishing armfuls of flowers at the feet to the new messiah. Who cares if Disappear has nicked most of its riffs from Magazine‘s Shot By Both Sides? Not us, if this is how well it rocks.

Gerard Way is in fine form, stoking the “us against the world” Goth fires in between songs and then we’re into the marching band early bars of Cemetery Drive, followed by the nursery rhyme-cum-Cabaret chimes of Mama. Without Liza Minnelli here to do the honours, it’s left to the crowd to fill in and they love every second of it, hyped to the heavens in time for Welcome To The Black Parade, which is beyond words. It’s dripping camp, the bastard child of Bohemian Rhapsody and The Rocky Horror Show and it is the song of the year, haunting and explosive.

The almost boy-band-ballad of I Don’t Love You follows (because he doesn’t doubt for a second that we do love him, of course) and from then until the end of the show it is, like the first half, equally split between the current album and its direct predecessor Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge, with Teenagers, Give’Em Hell, Kid and Famous Last Words all thrown into the mix. Just in case you thought for a second there wasn’t a sense of humour underlying all this, they finish on an explosive You Know What They Do To Guys Like Us In Prison.

The encore is the beautiful, haunting and soaring piano ballad of Cancer followed by Helena, another love song about early death that only Goths and ’60s all-girl harmony bands can get away with. They will never again play a venue this intimate. From here on in, the future is Wembley Arena (already booked). What a way to go.

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