On the 27th May, myself and 25,000 others descended onto Victoria Park in Warrington for what felt like it had been a long time coming for most of us in that field. My Chemical Romance are back, and hopefully for good. For a band that were playing in the UK for the first time this month since 2011, due to their split in 2013, it was fair to say that excited was probably an understatement for everyone. This was proved by the immediate buzz upon entering Piccadilly Station, and the conversations overhead on the train of people exchanging just how long they have waited to see this band.
With gates opening at half four, and the first band (Crawlers) playing at half five, this gig almost felt like the first festival of the year for me. This was probably also due to the fact that Victoria Park is home to Neighbourhood Festival which began the day after the gig, so the food vendors and fair rides (or ‘carnival’ as MCR frontman Gerard Way referred to it as) were all in operation. After a few hours at a ‘Spoons in the town centre of Warrington, we headed down to the park to go and watch Frank Turner. Unfortunately, I did miss both Crawlers and Starcrawler. Despite this, I really do recommend listening to both bands, and you can read The Mancunion’s interview with Crawlers here.
Frank Turner successfully warmed up the crowd last, and I think he was a pretty perfect choice for this gig. Although his music isn’t similar to MCR’s, his lyrics speak to everyone and the crowd seemed to like his set a lot. I really recommend checking out the tracks ‘Recovery’ and ‘Get Better’, both of which he played in this set.
After a short gap, it was time for MCR to take the stage. Naturally the set was filled with hits from beginning to end, with the crowd going pretty crazy for almost all of them. Highlights for me included ‘Give ‘Em Hell, Kid’, ‘Mama’, and the poignant ‘Cancer’, which Gerard dedicated to band member Ray Toro and his father, and performed with the stage entirely blacked out and the screens lit up by phone lights. It goes without saying that the iconic ‘Welcome to the Black Parade’ and their closing track ‘I’m Not Okay (I Promise)’ were also highlights of the evening. It was in these huge sing-along moments that I felt so lucky to be in that crowd watching such an incredible band with so many others who felt the exact same way.
There were naturally some tracks I would’ve loved to have heard, mostly from the band’s third album, The Black Parade however this didn’t dampen my spirits. I thought the setlist was pretty great considering they have such a big discography to choose from.
With a band as legendary as My Chemical Romance are, I wasn’t sure what the level of interaction would be like with the crowd between songs but I was pleasantly surprised by how much I laughed at Gerard’s comments. I also enjoyed the anecdotes about particular songs that were shared. Including the dedication of ‘Summertime’ to the band’s promoter Johnny Phillips where Gerard lamented on previous shows the band have played in Manchester, including one at Night and Day Cafe in the Northern Quarter 18 years ago, as well as the dedication of ‘Teenagers’ to Gerard’s daughter as it happened to be her 13th birthday that day. The Warrington show’s location was a source of confusion for Gerard, providing many humorous moments during the show, as he did think that Warrington was part of Manchester for a long time. The band had even gone to the trouble of writing “I <3 MCR” on the drum skin which Gerard promised had been done to refer to the city, and not their band.
The band played an almost two hour set, and I was still left wanting more as they were just that good. On this run of shows in the UK, My Chemical Romance have proved that they are anything but a band fuelled by nostalgia, and are still on top form after so many years. After the release of new track ‘The Foundations of Decay’, I can’t wait to see what they do next and where they go from here, especially as Gerard left promising we’d “See them again before they’re 50.”