My Chemical Romance – Live in Milton Keynes – May 2022 – Review EJ Scanlan
Everyone went through an emo phase, and if you didn’t, you’ve missed out, and if you’re still in it, who can blame you. But you can’t argue that when you think of emo culture, you instantly think of bands such as My Chemical Romance. The band have inspired millions of people around the world, all of whom have been energised by their distinctive sound, their influential songwriting and their ground-breaking third album, “The Black Parade”, which changed the lives of people everywhere. Tonight, after a 12-year hiatus, they’re back, playing Stadium MK in Milton Keynes (of all places). Can they bring back the magic that they did once before? I certainly hope so…
Before I continue, I’d like to take note that up-and-coming British rock musician, Cassyette was one of the three support acts tonight (alongside Placebo and Barns Courtney), and she was maybe one of the best supports I’ve seen for a very long time. Everything about her set tonight was incredible, from her roaring vocal screams to her setlist, and to have no lighting or anything for her set was incredibly impressive. She just focused purely on the music, which worked on her part. Please go and check her out! But it’s also worth noting that I will be referring back to this set a little bit later on, so keep an eye out for that.
So, let’s start by addressing the crowd as they were one of the biggest highlights of the night. Around 50,000 people witnessed tonight’s show, each of them filled with so much love and passion, they contributed a lot to the show alongside the band, and that’s where my first flaw comes in, I didn’t think the band interacted with the crowd as much as they could have done. Their stage presence wasn’t particularly amazing, with lead singer Gerard Way favouring the standing section of the stadium and not moving around much. With a venue of that size, you can’t afford to lack stage presence, as you can often lose the crowd. If it wasn’t for the sensationally curated setlist consisting of hit after hit and their dedicated fanbase, they would have been lost amongst it all.
My Chemical Romance Supports – Warrington Photo Copyright © Graham Finney
On a more positive note, the band chemistry was sublime throughout. After being away from performing for so long, you can tell that they had missed playing these songs together and that passion shone through during their two-hour set. They didn’t take themselves too seriously and they were (for the most part) pretty on point throughout, despite getting a piano note wrong during the iconic track, “Welcome To The Black Parade”. I also noticed that “Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na)” sounded incredibly mediocre live, unlike the original mastered version, which is one of my favourite songs by them, so it was incredibly disappointing to witness. Frontman Gerard Way’s vocals were great, but it’s fair to admit that 12 years later, he can’t reach the vocal heights that he used to, and it was especially noticeable during his performance of “I’m Not Okay (I Promise)”, as he dodged several of the higher sections. But the highlight for me, both personally and critically was his performance of “Welcome To The Black Parade” (despite the dodged piano note), as Way was vocally perfect, the atmosphere was immense and it was their strongest performance of the night.
The stage set looked incredibly spectacular from the front. There were actual sculptures that took up the stage, looking absolutely fantastic, with some incredible attention to detail, which stayed all the way through with the show’s sensational opening which very much impressed me. However, as I’ve previously said, stadiums are massive and you have to amaze at all opportunities, and if I hadn’t gone with my friends, both of whom were standing and told me about this amazing staging, I wouldn’t have even known about it from where I was sat, which was as close as you could get seated to the stage without any obstruction, and I didn’t notice it when I was walking out of the stadium either, where you can see the stage until you step outside onto the concourse. This raises a major concern for me, as there wasn’t any reason as to why this show had to be at a stadium. The set and lighting felt more as if they suited an arena than anything else. This was a stadium and with stadium headliners like Coldplay, whether you love them or hate them, you can’t deny that they make the most out of the entire stadium, and My Chemical Romance missed the opportunity to do something really spectacular here, so I can’t think of any excuses on their behalf I’m afraid.
So overall, My Chemical Romance delivered on multiple levels, with a fantastic setlist, some phenomenal passion and focused solely on the music without a single special effect or pyrotechnic in sight. However, the lacklustre stage set, a surprising lack of stage presence and Gerard Way not being able to perform as well as he did years prior resulted in the show being less spectacular than it could have been and a lot of potential being wasted, and for a supporting artist with no lighting or anything to be better than the headline act, that’s quite problematic. For anyone who’s a big My Chemical Romance fan who’s waited years for this tour, this is everything you need and will be worth the wait. However, if you’re, like me, wanting something more, then you’ll leave disappointed. I’m beyond excited to hear what their new album sounds like, and I know that the next time they tour, they will knock it out of the park.
- The Foundations of Decay [New Song]
- I’m Not Okay (I Promise) [Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge]
- Give ‘Em Hell Kid [Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge]
- Make Room!!!!! [Number Four]
- Summertime [Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys]
- Bulletproof Heart [Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys]
- This Is How I Disappear [The Black Parade]
- You Know What They Do To Guys Like Us In Prison [Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge]
- Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na) [Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys]
- Famous Last Words [The Black Parade]
- Surrender The Night [Number Five]
- Teenagers [The Black Parade]
- DESTROYA [Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys]
- Our Lady of Sorrows [I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love]
- Vampire Money [Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys]
- Thank You For The Venom [Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge]
- Mama [The Black Parade]
- Welcome To The Black Parade [The Black Parade]
- Sleep [The Black Parade]
- Boy Division [Number One]
- Helena [Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge]
My Chemical Romance – Warrington Photo Copyright © Graham Finney