Recap: My Chemical Romance Broke All the Rules at its Electrifying ‘Reunion Tour’ Run at the Kia Forum


Adrian GarroCategories:Latest News

Rock Cellar Magazine

Head-in-your-hands, awestruck wonder. The realization of your dreams coming true in front of your eyes. This was the sensation experienced by many My Chemical Romance fans at Monday night’s conclusion of the band’s five-night Reunion Tour run at the Kia Forum in Inglewood, Calif.

For about a week, vocalist Gerard Way, guitarist Ray Toro, bassist Mikey Way, guitarist Frank Iero, touring drummer Jarrod Alexander and keyboardist Jamie Muhoberac reasserted themselves as one of the most electrifying live bands of the past two decades, their energy perhaps only unmatched by the five sold-out crowds that shrieked with enthusiasm from start to finish.

A big reason behind the incredible vibes contained within the Forum’s walls on Monday night’s residency-closing gig was the general impact of My Chemical Romance’s return, of course. After staging a one-off concert in December of 2019 that was, at the time, MCR’s first show in seven years, the group had plans for a big 2020 reunion tour, which quickly sold out in major markets … only to be put back on the shelf when the pandemic took hold.

But the excitement put forth from the crowd this week was also due to the fact that nobody knew what was coming next. Once the tour finally began this past August, it was quickly made apparent that My Chemical Romance wasn’t here to go through the motions. No, that extended hiatus from 2013-19 only reinvigorated the band, which put together deep set lists of classics, fan favorites and deep cuts — a bit more than your average “reunion” tour, to say the least.

The five shows at the Forum were themed to specific eras of My Chemical Romance’s career — their 2002 debut I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love (represented with six songs on Oct. 11), 2004’s breakthrough follow-up Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge (10 album songs and two demos from the era, on Oct. 12), 2006’s The Black Parade (nine album songs and some B-sides on Oct. 14) and 2010’s Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys (eight album songs on Oct. 15).

Monday’s finale loosely resembled the band’s 2014 compilation May Death Never Stop You, a Best Of collection of notable singles and fan favorites that spanned the group’s entire career to that point. It was a fitting way to close an excellent week of live shows.

My Chemical Romance Mikey Way, Kia Forum Oct. 17, 2022 (Photo: Mark Beemer)

My Chemical Romance Mikey Way, Kia Forum Oct. 17, 2022 (Photo: Mark Beemer)

My Chemical Romance didn’t announce any of this, though — not beforehand, not during the show, never. Fans participating in the band’s various online communities began realizing what was going on after the first show. Gerard Way was notably chatty onstage, speaking between songs, thanking the audience for all of the support over the years and having water delivered to those sweating in the mosh pit, but there was no mention of having anything special in store for the performances.

Standing among the most dedicated MCR fans at the show, the complete and total euphoria of everyone lucky enough to be in the building never let up. Some wore costumes themed to various eras of MCR’s career. Probably 60% of those in attendance were wearing some form of My Chem merchandise. The opening tones of a song — any song — elicited screams of recognition and a sense of “Oh my god, they’re playing _____?!!,” which was only made louder by the unexpected nature of which song they were, indeed, playing.

It was a varied mix of those who’d seen the band years ago and those who were taking in their very first MCR live experience, and that blend felt pretty unique.

One of the most noticeable aspects of the show was the demographic of the audience this brought with it. Sure, there were fans in their mid-30s reliving their angsty teen years, but there was also a sizable portion of kids obviously too young to have been around and into the music scene back when My Chemical Romance was everywhere (around 2004-2007). Driving into the Forum’s spacious parking lot before the show and seeing some of these young fans dropped off by their parents, it was hard not to think of the Vans Warped Tour scene of that era — and it was striking how relevant MCR seems to be among those who never spent a scorching summer afternoon baking in the sun at Warped.

And — oh, yeah — those kids were screaming along with Gerard’s vocals just as much as the older fans.

My Chemical Romance Ray Toro, Kia Forum Oct. 17, 2022 (Photo: Mark Beemer)

My Chemical Romance Ray Toro, Kia Forum Oct. 17, 2022 (Photo: Mark Beemer)

Is My Chemical Romance truly a generational band, one that grew beyond the constraints of the punk/”emo” movement to amass a legacy realized in the triumph of this Reunion Tour?

Early signs point to yes. And MCR did everything in their power to demonstrate that they have a bit more in the tank than a “legacy” act might. Debuting a new song, “The Foundations of Decay,” out of the blue in May — and not attached to an album announcement — was a bold stroke. The song, a darker, heavy composition, portended another new era for the band. Clearly proud of this new material, MCR has opened every show of this tour with it, too, another interesting touch that breaks the so-called “rules” of a reunion tour.

On that same “generational” note, MCR brought a host of acts with them for these LA shows. Monday’s finale featured Waterparks, the newer-school pop/punk/funk/indie band fronted by Awsten Knight, who had the audience sing “Happy Birthday” to his tour manager and say hello to his parents, all of which were in attendance. Knight repeatedly expressed how excited he was to play the show, a “full-circle moment” after seeing My Chemical Romance at a venue like the Forum in 2006.

Main support came from Midtown, the New Jersey-based pop-punk band fronted by Gabe Saporta. After three studio albums and notoriety in the pop-punk scene in the early 2000s, the band broke up in 2005 (Saporta then went on to bigger things with the electro-pop outfit Cobra Starship). But, as he explained during their set, Mikey Way of MCR essentially brought Midtown back together, the band reforming for a handful of concerts this fall and a chance to play for their kids, who had never seen their dads’ band yet.

 

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This context made for an enthusiastic set of songs from Midtown and a nice trip down Memory Lane for the older pop-punk heads in the crowd.

As for MCR’s set, it featured most of the obvious big hits — “I’m Not Okay (I Promise),” “Welcome to the Black Parade” and others, but also a song the band hadn’t performed since 2003 (the non-album track “Sister to Sleep”), the 2010 single “Sing” (not played since 2012), and the debut of “Fake Your Death” (a new song featured on May Death Never Stop You). Throughout the set, everyone on stage came across as having an absolute blast, fully committed to delivering the best show possible — and clearly having put in the same effort to make it as much of a thrill for fans as it was for them.

The set list:

The Foundations of Decay
Sister to Sleep (First performance since 2003)
I’m Not Okay (I Promise)
SING (First performance since 2012)
Our Lady of Sorrows
Skylines and Turnstiles
Heaven Help Us
The Ghost of You
Planetary (GO!)
Teenagers
I Don’t Love You
Helena
Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na)
Mama
Cancer
Welcome to the Black Parade
Famous Last Words
The Kids From Yesterday

Encore:
Fake Your Death(Live debut)
Vampires Will Never Hurt You

This refusal to adhere to convention was a big reason My Chemical Romance became a sensation nearly two decades ago.

That they’ve still got that defiant, unpredictable energy in 2022, coming back from an extended hiatus as dads in their forties (shout-out to Toro’s son for dancing around as his dad shredded a guitar solo on “The Kids from Yesterday”) and with an audience just as feverishly intense as it was in 2005, was a powerful scene to witness.

It’ll be fascinating to see where they go with their next chapter, wherever/whenever it may be.

Comments

  • Jean says:

    Wish I had heeded the impulse to buy tickets to the Oakland show. My son is in school in Arizona and I just wasn’t sure he could get back here. I should have just gone myself.



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