Back in March 2013, the heartbreaking news of My Chemical Romance breaking up was revealed to us. Fast forward to 2020 and they’re back with us dropping news of a run of live shows. With multiple cancellations and rescheduling, almost 2 and a half years later, the New Jersey legends arrived back on UK soil.
For so many fans, this run of shows marked the first time ever seeing the band live, myself included; it felt like a dream that would never happen. The surreal nature of this experience showed even to the moment of walking through the gates at Cardiff’s Sophia Gardens.
With the sun shining down, the arena filled with a huge array of fans. On display everywhere were fans showing off costumes from iconic characters of MCR’s history, as well as the majority giving a full “emo” throwback.
Opening the stage for a monumental evening came Derby rock band, LostAlone. The pressure is always high on opening acts to get the crowd energised and set the tone for the evening. LostAlone did just that. Throughout the evening the sound quality and mixing at Sophia Gardens did leave a lot to be desired, but this didn’t seem to hold LostAlone back. Having never seen or heard LostAlone before, although the sound issues made it difficult at times to distinguish songs, this didn’t take away from the performance and the band felt like a great fit for the show and just added to the overall experience.
Following on in the support line up came Starcrawler and Wales’ own Funeral For A Friend. Once again the sound quality wasn’t up to standard and for these two bands it really took away from being able to engage in their music. Having never heard Starcrawler before either, it was disappointing not being able to check out and potentially fall in love with a new band. As a casual listener to Funeral For A Friend it was really disappointing to not be able to hear songs apart from one another and instead leave hoping for another chance to see them in a better setting.
Across the run of UK dates, there hasn’t been a standard setlist. The one consistency across shows has been opening with brand new track, The Foundations of Decay. Something that has been clear with the set lists is these have been shows designed for fans with no real pressure of having to promote anything in particular. My Chemical Romance being back and playing, was truly for the love of their music and desire to be on stage again. Rather than having a fan / artist divide, there was a greater sense this was just a reunion of long lost friends, demonstrating a natural flare for stand up and keeping the audience doubly entertained. Everyone at the shows was there for one main reason alone, to have a good time and celebrate phenomenal music, that for many of us had such a defining impact on our younger years.
By mixing up the set list each night, it still left a surprise for those of us attending later dates of the tour. Moving from a brand new track onto Thank You For The Venom gave us the first track of the evening to come from Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge. This track is impossible not to have you singing along and belting out the chorus with everything you’ve got.
Going onto a track from Danger Days with Bulletproof Heart, it brought a more upbeat sound to the evening and had the crowd starting to dance around. With each track played and as the set went on, the excitement grew. With Famous Last Words it was hard to find anyone not getting a little bit emotional. This iconic track was one I was most excited to hear live and they smashed every expectation; although it felt like a track that should’ve come later on toward the close of the set, that distinctive guitar solo is something that will stay cemented in my memories. With such a variety in songs played from their back catalogue, it truly showed off the impact My Chemical Romance had with their music with non-single tracks being just as popular, if not more so.
Bringing out classics like Helena, Mama and Teenagers, had myself and presumably many others in the crowd feeling extremely nostalgic. With the distinctive guitar riff opening on Teenagers, this was definitely one of the most fun tracks of the evening.
It wouldn’t have been an evening with MCR without hearing arguably one of their most famous tracks, Welcome To The Black Parade. With that first G note hit, an ecstatic roar filled the grounds. If anyone had made it this far without shedding a tear, now was the time that streak was broken. This iconic anthem cemented just how much My Chemical Romance have been missed, and just how thrilled the crowds are to see them once again. Before returning for an encore, the band closed their set with personal rediscovered favourite, Sleep. Ending the evening on this felt almost perfect for their penultimate UK show.
Making their way back to the stage for one last track and another fan favourite, they finished on THE classic I’m Not Okay. In the build up to the shows it was a constant sense of pinching yourself that this was something real and happening. By the end of the show you could tell that for so many people this was a real refresh and morale boost after a rough few years. Being surrounded by fellow fans without fear of being mocked, felt like such a safe and comforting environment, especially remembering the torment that could come with being a My Chemical Romance fan years ago.
There’s one thing for certain that has been proved with these long awaited shows, the My Chemical Romance fan base has such a strong spirit and adoration that will live on forever.
Photos featured were taken by Jemma Dodd at the Milton Keynes Sunday show.