What it was like being at their first show in 7 years…

As every music fan eagerly looks forward to the world opening up once more and live music being safe and available again, I thought it would be fun to take a look back at the last gig I went to: the iconic and long-awaited first reunion show of My Chemical Romance in California. 

Rumours had been circulating about the band’s reunion from the moment they split, and it turned out that some of the conspiracy theories were, in fact, true. MCR had teased a reunion in the Danger Days video for Na Na Na. While some explain that My Chem initially scheduled the California 2019 date to be held as a one-off event, the show sold out in under 4 minutes and MCR went on to announce a full-blown worldwide tour.

California reunion hinted at in this screenshot of the MCR Na Na Na video on YouTube.

On December 20th 2019, I joined the gang of eyeliner-ed individuals flocking to Los Angeles’ Shine Expo Hall, excited by the electric atmosphere and apprehensive of seeing the king of emo in the flesh. I got my merch, found a good spot in the crowd, and vowed not to pee so I wouldn’t lose the good view. MCR had promised to give me a show to remember and I’m not okay…

Now, I hadn’t seen MCR back in their heyday. Some friends of mine had managed to catch the emo gods during The Black Parade Tour in 2007. I’d heard stories of Gerard Way arriving on a stretcher, in full skeleton makeup, and a theatrical performance from start to end, so there was a lot of expectation to live up to… but it turns out I wasn’t alone. Roughly three-quarters of the room raised their hands to indicate that this was their first-ever MCR show too! Even Halsey and Brendon Urie were reportedly among several celebs to attend the performance.

The intro was the drama I’d been hoping for, with a long intro and the opening dialogue from I’m Not Okay (I Promise), before the huge stone angel curtain fell revealing an understated Gerard Way sporting his newly-beloved dad bod and Ray Toro with the most enormous Cheshire Cat grin… and the rest of the band looking like they hadn’t missed a day in the life of rock ‘n’ roll. Of course they ended on Welcome To The Black Parade and in between this emo sandwich were flavours that ripped from every album… and they sounded just as good as the records.

The full setlist:

I’m Not Okay (I Promise)
Thank You For The Venom
Give ’Em Hell, Kid
House Of Wolves
You Know What They Do to Guys Like Us in Prison 
Make Room!!!!
Our Lady of Sorrows
Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na)
I Don’t Love You
Famous Last Words
The Kids From Yesterday
Vampire Money
Welcome To The Black Parade

NME called the show ‘a triumphant, cathartic return’.

RollingStone states ‘it’s with this landmark concert that MCR ceases to be a nostalgic act, and proves its mettle as a timeless, rock & roll band for the ages’.

Consequence.net remark ‘The emo mainstays conquer a sold-out crowd and prove the seven year-wait was worth it’

While I was honoured to be part of the overly-excitable screaming crowd, if I’m totally honest… I wanted more theatrics. I wanted costumes and face paint, drama and pyrotechnics, but that may have exploded some minds irreversibly. There were several overwhelmed people crying without that level of awesome. After seeing the teasers for the worldwide tour, I’m hopeful that there will be more of the above included in upcoming shows. Having said that, it’s not lost on me how lucky I was to nab one of those highly sought-after tickets. This show broke records grossing nearly $1.5 million, and shortly after this show the tour was postponed due the coronavirus pandemic that swept the planet and shut down a lot of live music and international travel indefinitely.

MCR is due to continue their comeback in 2022.
04 mayo 2021 — Sarah Rachel