Review: My Chemical Romance at Toyota Center, 9/27/22

My chemical romance
Toyota Center
27 September 2022

When we were young, most of us were concerned with image. The clothes we wore allowed us to express ourselves, and many of us did so through Converse, studded belts and dark eyeliner – much to the chagrin of our parents.

Similarly, My Chemical Romance – one of the most famous emo outfits of all time and arguably the biggest act to reject the genre – once went to great lengths for the sake of presentation. Each of the band’s studio albums featured a new sound, and that change was reflected in the group’s on-stage stylings.

Black suits with red ties approx Three Cheers for sweet revenge gave way to Day of the Dead-inspired marching band outfits below The Black Parade years, followed by neon hair, eye masks and motorcycle jackets to support Danger days.

But on Tuesday night, vocalist Gerard Way, guitarist Ray Toro, bassist Mikey Way and guitarist Frank Iero ditched the gear in favor of a grungier, less coordinated look. Twenty years removed from the group’s formation and nearly a decade since their breakup, MCR seemed content to dress comfortably.

MCR’s reunion tour was supposed to come through the Toyota Center in 2019, but it was delayed (and delayed again) due to COVID-19. Two and a half years removed from the peak of the pandemic, the New Jersey rockers finally made it to the Bayou City.

The arena was filled to the gills with fans of all ages. People in their 40s, who might have seen MCR in their infancy, rubbed shoulders with kids who might have been in kindergarten when the band last released a decent record.

As they say, emo is not dead.

click to enlarge

Frank Iero

Photo by Jennifer Lake

MCR’s set began with their latest single “The Foundations Of Decay”, a brooding callback to the group’s debut record I brought you my balls, you brought me your love. “Bury Me In Black,” a beloved deep cut, came next, followed by breakout single “I’m Not Okay (I Promise).”

Reunion tour set lists typically read like Greatest Hits albums, but not this one. Yes, “Helena” and “Welcome To The Black Parade” made the cut, but fans weren’t twiddling their thumbs waiting for those tracks. Instead, almost everyone in the crowd, young and old alike, could be seen singing, dancing and moshing to “Vampires Will Never Hurt You” as if it were on Billboard right now.

Tuesday night felt like a victory lap for MCR. From the aggressive punk stylings of “Our Lady Of Sorrows” to the danceable pop-up of “Planetary (GO!)”; from the ominous ragtime of “Mama” to the anthemic optimism of “The World Is Ugly,” the band’s range was on full display, absent the extravagant outfits and all that eyeliner.

And while I wouldn’t mind if the glitz and glam came back as well, the band’s image just doesn’t feel nearly as important anymore. We’ve all grown up a lot in the past few years, so as long as MCR continues to perform with the kind of aggression and passion they brought to the Toyota Center on Tuesday night, this reunion tour could be the beginning of a new chapter.

Only this time, hopefully, the next chapter won’t be delayed for two years.

The basis of decay
Bury me in black
I’m not okay (I promise)
Give them hell, kid
Planetary (GO!)
The ghost in you
Our Lady of Sorrows
Hang ‘Em High
The world is ugly
Boy Division
Welcome to the Black Parade
Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na)
Famous last words

Vampires will never harm you

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