My Chemical Romance’s music is inherently cathartic, sonically and emotionally charged, and the New Jersey rock band’s 2022 homecoming shows took that raw passion and pure energy to new heights. Here’s to hoping this Reunion Tour is only the beginning of a long and fruitful second act for MCR.
“The Foundations of Decay” – My Chemical Romance
It was the roar of the crowd that gave me heartache to sing…
It was a triumphant return, ten-plus years in the making.
My Chemical Romance’s music is inherently cathartic, sonically and emotionally charged, and the New Jersey rock band’s homecoming shows took that raw passion and pure energy to new heights.
Following two breathtaking shows at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center on September 10th and 11th, the band victoriously returned to Newark’s Prudential Center on the 20th and 21st for two outstanding performances that were not only inspiring and uplifting, but also as fun for the audience as they were for the band.
For the purposes of this review, we will focus on the September 20th show.
An electric current rippled through the 19,000+ capacity arena as fans new and old shuffled through the stands, many dressed up to reflect characters from past music videos and many more wearing old band tees from the early aughts. Special guests The Homeless Gospel Choir and Thursday warmed the crowd up with their unique brands of punk, but the anticipation for the headliner was undeniably palpable: Since My Chemical Romance’s Reunion Tour announcement in early 2020, these shows had been rescheduled at least twice due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While concertgoers had technically been counting down ~1,000 days to this moment, the real number was far greater: This would be MCR’s first proper hometown show in over a decade.
Frontman Gerard Way has been donning a new outfit every night of the tour, and tonight’s costume choice – we’re going with “vampire/bat” – was dark and powerful.
It was clear the band felt the longing for this long-overdue homecoming, and their performance was no doubt one of their best yet. They did not shy away from playing the songs that jumpstarted their career in the first half of the set, going so far as to invite fellow New Jerseyan and Thursday frontman Geoff Rickly onto the stage to join in a rip-roaring performance of “This Is the Best Day Ever,” taken off 2002’s debut album I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love (also produced by Rickly, whom Way further credited for teaching him how to sing).
But we digress.
The band came out in full force with their new song “Foundations of Decay,” whose static-laced entrance music transformed into an over 5 minute wash of sonic suspense. Unapologetically intense, the heavy anthem proved a stunning opener and set the scene for the onslaught to come. After heightened audience arousal from playing their hit “I’m Not Okay (I Promise)” right off the bat, Gerard Way couldn’t help but don a genuine, earnest smile.
Witnessing that brief, but meaningful moment of vulnerability was equal parts poignant and humbling from the crowd: The band of best friends Gerard Way, Mikey Way, Frank Iero, and Ray Toro (joined by Jarrod Alexander on percussion and Jamie Muhoberac on keyboards) are clearly loving every minute of their long-awaited reunion, and seeing an artist sincerely love the music they’re playing truly enhances what is already a euphoric audience experience.
The set continued with a series of fan favorites from Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge, with MCR playing “Give ‘Em Hell, Kid,” “Cemetery Drive,” “The Ghost of You,” the feverish “Thank You for the Venom,” and “I Never Told You What I Do For a Living” – a song that hasn’t been played since 2008 – throughout the evening.
My Chemical Romance have been changing their setlist up on a nightly basis such that no two shows are ever the same, but the biggest hits are staples of every evening and never fail to make the crowd roar. These include the explosive anthem “Helena,” the spiritually cleansing “Famous Last Words,” the soul-stirring rallying cry “Welcome to the Black Parade,” the rebellious blues rocker “Teenagers,” the supercharged singalong “Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na),” and the impassioned “Mama” – the latter of which bathes audiences in a deep red glow every evening as Way brings a sea of strangers together to sing, “Mama, we all go to hell.“
It didn’t stop there: Hearing “Demolition Lovers” live for the first time in almost two decades sent fans on a nostalgic spiral for MCR’s encore, which they finished on a high not with the 2010 Danger Days hit, “The Kids From Yesterday.” “Remember, this could be the last of all the rides we take, so hold on tight and don’t look back,” Gerard Way sang triumphant. “We don’t care about the message or the rules they make; I’ll find you when the sun goes black.” It was a perfect ending for a band playing where they were born and raised.
‘Cause you only live forever
in the lights you make
When we were young, we used to say
That you only hear the music
when your heart begins to break
Now, we are the kids from yesterday
We are the kids from yesterday, today!
Here we are and we won’t stop breathing
Yell it out, ’til your heart stops beating
We are the kids from yesterday, today!
My Chemical Romance’s music was so important to fans who grew up with them: They allowed and acknowledged the misfits and the outsiders, giving them a voice and a platform to feel at home.
MCR’s music is remains important and relevant to many in this world of constant fear and judgment. The nostalgia of their return is its own reckoning in a return to normalcy, giving people who really need something to believe in now another shot at hope. “The World Is Ugly,” taken from 2013’s Conventional Weapons singles spree, hits home for fans who can only help but relate in a time strained by a pandemic, war, and constant political unrest:
These are the eyes and the lies of the taken
These are their hearts
but their hearts don’t beat like ours
They burn ’cause they are all afraid
For every one of us, there’s an army of them
But you’ll never fight alone
‘Cause I wanted you to know
That the world is ugly,
but you’re beautiful to me
Well are you thinking of me now (now)?
These are the nights
and the lights that we fade in
These are the words
but the words aren’t coming out
They burn ’cause they are hard to say
For every failing sun, there’s a morning after
Though I’m empty when you go
I just wanted you to know
That the world is ugly,
But you’re beautiful to me
My Chemical Romance was there for a generation of teenagers and young adults who needed them most, and Gerard Way swooped in as a caped superhero to revive our inner angst and drive.
It was surreal seeing them perform like nothing had changed; it was a brief moment in time of pure joy for fans everywhere. The power they have in bringing together people from all ages and walks of life is incredible, and My Chemical Romance sound as good, if not better than they did over a decade ago. Here’s to hoping 2022 is only the beginning of a long and fruitful second act for MCR.
My Chemical Romance’s Reunion Tour hits the West Coast this October. The band will play Mexico City’s Corona Capital Festival on November 18th, and they recently announced a string of tour dates in Australia and New Zealand set for March 2023.
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📸 © Jessica Staley
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