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Feb 10, 2012

REVIEW: My Chemical Romance, Closure in Moscow @ Festival Hall, Melbourne (31/01/2012)

My Chemical Romance’s return to Australia has been a long and tiresome wait. After dropping off the Soundwave 2010 line-up, the bands return thanks to the saving grace of Big Day Out sees them armed with a whole fourth album of new material.

   When I was 16 years old, I loved The Black Parade. Just like Green Day’sAmerican Idiot, it was an album that demanded repeat listens. They were a band I loved immensely. Now, I’m 21. My music taste has varied far and wide, and I can’t say that I’ve really listened to My Chemical Romance in a very, very long time. After missing the past two tours in Melbourne, I was looking forward to finally catching My Chemical Romance at their own headline show.  

Walking into Festival Hall, we’re greeted by a sea of teenagers dressed to resemble the various ‘eras’ of MCR’s career. From the eyeliner, marching suits and black skinny jeans of The Black Parade to hyper dystopian future played out in Danger Days, it’s very clear that MCR’s fans are dressed and dedicated beyond belief. 

   Melbourne rockers Closure In Moscow open the night’s proceedings; greeted with cheers that could almost suggest they’re the headline act. Closure in Moscow are a band I catagorise as ‘hit and miss.’ Their strengths lie in their instrumental work, brilliant progressive rock that ignites the senses. It’s unfortunate that their vocalist, Christopher de Cinque lacked the charisma or the charm tonight to win over members of the crowd. It took him a total of four times to have the front of the mosh contribute to a song, and the result was mediocre at best. His on stage persona was overly dramatic, almost as if he wanted to ‘up stage’ Gerard Way. It’s a pity that such a performance was overly noticeable, because it really distracted from the brilliant instrumental work of his band mates. 

   As My Chemical Romance hit the stage, unsurprisingly the screams from the crowd break the sound barrier. The pre-recorded Danger Daysintro allows the band to quickly arrive on stage before launching into Na Na Na (etc), the floor shaking from the stomps of hundreds of feet. Thankyou For The Venom was a surprising early addition, but the gig really felt like it hit its peak during the performance of Mama.

   Throughout the middle section of the set, I found myself experiencing mixed emotions towards the music. The bands latest material such asDESTROYA and Summertime feels completely uninspired, almost to the point of being forced. It’s contrived and a bit narcissistic, a shadow of the bands excellent earlier work. Most post-post-modern 'punk' (and I use that term lightly) rock fans would agree that The Black Parade and particularly Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge are excellent albums, even Vampires Will Never Hurt You and Our Lady Of Sorrows get a special performance. But whenever MCR play material from Danger Days, I feel lost. In a confusing audible mess, the noise bleeds with feedback and I can’t for the life of me distinguish which song is which. Thankfully, the set list is balanced and allows for such past brilliance like Cemetary Drive and Give ‘Em Hell, Kid to shine through the cracks in the set. Unlike Danger Days, these tracks are catchy with unique hooks and riffs that defined a sub-genre of punk for a generation of new fans. It goes without saying that Teenagers went completely off, shaking Festival Hall back to its original foundations.

   The highlight of the night comes in the three part finale of the main set; Helena, Welcome To The Black Parade and Cancer. The three songs compliment each other in the live atmosphere, and the entire crowd sings along in unison. Welcome To The Black Parade has become MCR’s anthem, and as the fans stood proud and sung along, you could feel the patriotism in the air. As the band leave the stage, you know the encore is going to be something truly special considering a fare share of key tracks have yet to make an appearance.

   Being the final headline show of the Danger Days world tour, Melbourne were treated to an impromptu performance in the encore of SING, while I’m Not Okay (I Promise) was an excellent addition to the end of the night. It was great to hear all these songs from my teenage years live, and I admit I sang my heart out during Famous Last Words.

   A major criticism of the night was the amount of injured fans crying or even being treated by ambulance officers after the show. The all ages limit on the floor was an incredibly bad move, especially given the mid teen age of most fans. Realistically, this was a lot of fans first MCR concert and perhaps even their first concert experience. Either the fans need to look out for one another in the mosh pit, or more needs to be done to ensure their safety.

   While the nostaliga of the performance hit every note, I feel that the stark contrast between the bands earlier work and Danger Days is stifling. This being said, I went into this gig seeking to find nostalgia, and it was a lot of fun to return to a musical phase in my life, perhaps even giving it a bit of closure. While I’m no member of The Black Parade, or a Killjoy; MCR do know how to put on a show that entertained their fans and would have left even the most dispassionate of music critic with a tap in their footstep while leaving the venue.


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