Julia Steele, ’17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
As a former “emo kid” who never got to see My Chemical Romance in their hey-day, the reality of seeing Gerard Way in the flesh is an exciting prospect. No one can deny that Gerard Way is a showman. My Chemical Romance may not back him anymore, but he still brings all of the talent and power to the stage as he did as the front man of the iconic emo-rock band. But, my excitement for Way’s show didn’t even slightly match that of half of the crowd. As Way’s touring band, The Hormones, came onstage at the Paradise Rock Club last Sunday, people were practically sobbing with excitement all around, just dying to see their hero grace the stage.
Then all the sudden there he was, in the flesh, Gerard Way—every former emo girl’s dream. Everyone in the audience was beside themselves as he started with one of the tracks from his new album; “The Bureau” has an infectious beat, great and hard-hitting opening riff, and definitely got the crowd moving.
As per usual, Way has a persona onstage, and sports a costume to match. Ever since we first saw vampire-emo black-and-red clad Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge Gerard, we expect nothing less. With each tour, Way sports a new version of himself. The Black Parade military jacket and skeleton makeup, the Danger Days futuristic cowboy look with bright red hair; his looks are part of seeing him live. His new look is quite retro; he’s chopped off the long red locks and let his hair fade to an orangey-red, and he sports a bright blue suit onstage. The look goes along with his new music, which is a sort of a throwback in itself. He’s dressed the same way on the cover of his new album “Hesitant Alien” which takes aspects of 70’, 80’s, and 90’s alternative rock, creating a sort of glam-rock, post-punk, Britpop fusion.
The energy of fusion in Way’s new tracks packed his set list with one crowd pump-up after another. If the first two tracks of the set (“The Bureau” and single “Action Cat”) didn’t get people going, it was sure that almost everyone in the place was singing along “Call me Zero Zero Zero/ Call me Zero you are zero.” when the third track (you guessed it, Zero Zero) kicked in. Two more hard-rockers, “Millions”—which just had a video released days before the show—and “Juarez” continued the set. “Juarez” has frantic, grungy guitars battling behind Way’s vocals that had the crowd bobbing with the beat –if not full-on headbanging.
Hesitant Alien was released less than a month ago, so while fans weren’t terribly familiar with the material, that didn’t mean they weren’t having a good time and enjoying the music. While Way plays close to 90% of what you hear on the album, his touring band, four-piece group The Hormones, brings his creations to life during the live show. All extremely talented musicians, their skill gives Way the perfect soundtrack for his performance.
The set took a turn for the slower as Way crooned the vocals of “Drugstore Perfume,” one of the few “ballads” from Hesitant Alien. The crowd had a bit of a break as he transitioned into “Television All the Time,” a single only released in Japan, and a cover of James Cecil’s “The Water is Wide.”
Things picked up again as Way sang of his former band mate and sibling Mikey Way in Brother—a piano-driven, belt-the-chorus kind of song that got the crowd swaying once again. Gerard & The Hormones pretty much played through the new album, cranking out “Get the Gang Together” and “How It’s Going to Be” until playing the album-closer “Maya the Psychic” which Way said was a “very personal song about mental illness.”
The highlight of the night by far was Way’s performance of “No Shows”—yet another chorus-belter that had the whole audience singing along to the simplistic melody and reaching their hands out in time to the music. A true crowd-bonding moment, the show could have stopped there and we all would have left satisfied. Still, Way & The Hormones closed the set with a cover of The Jesus and Mary Chain’s “Snakedriver.”
Now, as all of us knew and loved Gerard from his MCR frontman days, we would have all been lying if we said we weren’t hoping for him to come out and sing a My Chemical Romance hit. Half the audience was sporting their old My Chem hoodies and wristbands; the crowd was exactly the cliché you’d expect. Almost every audience member was sporting a neon “scene” haircut, chained jeans, or heavy black eyeliner. There was no denying what they were here for: MCR. But, to audience dismay, there was no My Chem cover. Instead, we got a ballad of Way’s that does not appear on his album entitled “Dasher” and fans left on a solemn yet satisfied note.
After some thought, I understand why Way didn’t want to revive any My Chemical Romance tunes for this gig. While I must admit I was among the people a little disappointed that I didn’t get to hear the former emo-rock icon belt out chart-topper, this tour is about setting himself apart. While his unique vocals will always remind us all of the My Chem glory days, Gerard Way is trying to break out of what he used to be. And with the stunning, hard-rocking performance he gave on this tour, who knows what’s in store for him next?