Jack Thundercliffe headed to Cardiff to see the new incarnation of the former singer of My Chemical Romance.
It takes a lot to rise from the ashes of what was such a hugely influential rock band for a generation. Since the demise of My Chemical Romance, Gerard Way has been exploring his early influences – tracing back to the likes of Bowie, Morrissey and Sonic Youth. It’s certainly a dramatic turn for an artist whom most associate with powerful, distortion-fueled rock anthems; it’s a fresh start – but one that is sincere in a sense that it could only be made by Gerard Way. This new direction sees the 37 year-old mash together many Britpop influences into a fuzz-rock record, and on the 9th of November 2014 this wall of sound is delivered to a packed out Students’ Union in Cardiff.
Clearly, many fans of the late My Chemical Romance have followed Way closely on his journey to a solo career – an army of teenagers in military jackets with brightly coloured hair gather outside the venue many hours in advance of the gig.
Darlia (a very promising band from Blackpool) are opening for Way. They serve as a fitting warm-up, with a sound comparable to a blend of Oasis and Nirvana – which the 3-piece pull of surprisingly well. Nathan Day (vocals and guitar) plays fiercely; the blood splatters on his Gretsch speak for themselves. It is by no means intricately composed music, but is incredibly refreshing. ‘Napalm’ and ‘Queen Of Hearts’ convince the crowd that the band will be making noise for a while to come – Darlia have earned many new fans, and rightly so.
Screams and cheers erupt from the crowd as Тhe Hormones (Way’s backing band) take to the stage, kicking things off with ‘The Bureau’ – the opening track from Hesitant Alien – Way’s debut solo album. Insane feedback provided by Ian Fowles (guitarist), coupled with an increasingly aggressive buildup from the drums (Jarrod Alexander) leads up to Gerard Way’s emergence, providing an almost deafening explosion of screeches from the predominantly female enthusiasts. The fuzz-drenched guitar drives directly into the crowd – who could not be much more energetic, spurred on by Way’s unique stage dynamic getting everybody involved. The addictive melody of ‘Millions’, and the fragile, emotion-filled ‘Brother’ ensure everyone is singing along to what definitely does not feel like a My Chemical Romance show, partly due to the less empowering – and more abstract – lyrics. Gerard takes a moment to thank the crowd for allowing him to continue creating music, and speaks about his views on feminism and the promise society is beginning to show. This is followed by a burst into ‘Get The Gang Together’, during which Way encourages his fans to sing and jump in unison. The set finishes with a cover of The Jesus and Mary Chain’s ‘Snakedriver’, slowing down the pace before he and The Hormones leave the stage. Chants of “Gerard! Gerard!” see the band return to the stage and launch into an unreleased song, ‘Dasher’, which Gerard explains is about a reindeer – but certainly doesn’t feel Christmassy. Nonetheless, it goes down a treat considering the song is previously unheard, and ensures that Gerard Way and The Hormones leave the stage triumphant when it concludes.
Gerard Way needs creative reinvention for every endeavour he embarks on. The loyal fans know this – many following suit. Cardiff has experienced a unique take on shoegaze, and is left questioning what could be up next for Gerard Way. However, after an undeniably brilliant performance, they have faith that whether My Chemical Romance ever make a return or not – Gerard will keep creating new worlds and new sounds. He won’t necessarily fit in. He won’t fall into any genre or category. And he definitely won’t fail to pull it off.
Television All the Time
The Water Is Wide (O Waly, Waly) (James Cecil cover)
Get the Gang Together
How It’s Going to Be
Maya the Psychic
Snakedriver (The Jesus and Mary Chain cover)
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