[GIG REVIEW] JIMMY EAT WORLD/MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE @ Rod Laver Arena 16/03/2023
As I jumped off the tram outside Rod Laver Arena last night I never expected that the Jimmy Eat World/My Chemical Romance concert was about to be the personally emotional affair that it turned out to be for me.
Sure, I have been a fan of the bands over the years – my Jimmy Eat World relationship started when I was angsty teen and their music spoke to me and then it was hammered home when their music was enjoyed by the characters of one of my favourite television shows ever – One Tree Hill.
My love for My Chemical Romance also started when I was young – I got wrapped up in the Welcome To The Black Parade phenomena and from there the love just really grew… but nothing prepared me for last night.
During the show last night it hit me – not going to a live show for two years during the pandemic lockdowns had taken something major away from my life – I’ve been going to live shows since I was a child (thanks my Dad’s love for music) and somewhere along my life live music and the energy you get from a show has just become part of my lifeblood.
That feeling started to wash over me as soon as Jimmy Eat World started to play the opening strains of Futures -a feeling washed over me and suddenly I was that teenager again watching these guys for the first time. Despite this being a largely MCR orientated crowd lead singer Jim Adkins soon had the crowd eating out of his hand and the band delivered a show that showed all of their 30 years of experience.
By the time they got to Pain and Sweetness the crowd was singing along word perfect and then completely went crazy for Something Loud and Work – the latter becoming what was the first ‘anthem’ for the night. The crowd sang with as much passion as the band which resulted in a kind of haunting effect within the arena.
Then came my first emotional experience of the night. As the band launched into the beautiful Hear You Me I found myself thinking of a close friend who recently passed away and before I knew what was happening I felt tears streaming down my cheeks – it was in that moment that I knew that my emotional connection to live music had been re-connected. I didn’t even know that I personally needed that moment but it felt so good afterwards – like I had been completely re-set. It was a weird experience but a truly remarkable one that clearly showed the power of the show.
Jimmy Eat World then had the crowd at their mercy as they delivered the energetic Bleed American and their most popular hit The Middle which once again whipped the crowd into a passionate frenzy.
Then after a short break came the other surprising part of the night. Any true fan of My Chemical Romance will tell that the band have been trying to shake off their ‘emo band’ tag for years. Recent articles in the USA highlighting that the band started their own movement and deserved more recognition seem to fuel that argument of where MCR fits in the scheme of things even more. All I can say is that anyone that witnessed the band in action at Rod Laver Arena will honestly tell you that this is a band that have been taken for granted for way too long.
A weird but great energy went over the Arena last night as MCR pumped a weird electric static sound effect throughout before they stepped onto the stage. It felt like it drew people into a trance and then exploded into a cacophony of sound as the band erupted into their opening number – The Foundations of Decay. Lead singer Gerard Way was on fire – and as I watched them I realised that the emo tag certainly doesn’t fit this band any more.
The performance last night shows that Way has morphed into a beautifully grotesque creature that seems to be a mixture of David Bowie, Gary Numan and Marilyn Manson while the band now seems to be a mixture of industrial metal with Way also completely at home also dropping in the occasional death growl. One thing was very clear though as the back curtain dropped away the band was in their element performing amongst the beautifully, grotesque, grimy post-apocalyptic ruins of the city that they had created.
The maturity that My Chemical Romance shows on stage these days is remarkable – the industrial metal vibe continued throughout the show – tracks like This Is How I Disappear, Planetary (GO) and The World Is Ugly fit into that vibe perfectly, and despite the change in the way that My Chemical Romance now perform it didn’t mean that their classic hits were damaged in any way at all. Teenagers and Welcome To The Black Parade were still performed with amazing gusto and with the band’s ‘swarm’ of fans singing along to every word.
That swarm also buzzed into a state of anarchy during ‘Destroya’ and ‘Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na)which both become anthems on the night. My highlights though were Famous Last Words and Mama though. The latter was delivered amazing well in a haunting rendition that showed Way’s true talents as a performer while the former felt like the band were reading out a diary entry that many of us could relate to from our lives… yep another emotional moment.
Last night was a night of surprises – from Jimmy Eat World transporting back to what it was like being a teenager at a live show through to My Chemical Romance showing what I am going to call their Nine Inch Nails side. As their electronic, industrial hum filled the stadium again before the encore I heard a security guard yell to his colleague “Are these guys finished or what?” I wanted to respond by saying “No, dear Sir these guys have found a whole new life and they are only just beginning.”