My Chemical Romance and Jimmy Eat World played at Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne, on Thursday, 16th March. Brenton Harris reviews.
Jimmy Eat World took the stage to rapturous applause and proceeded to play a greatest hits set that drew heavily on 2001’s Bleed American and 2004’s Futures. The Arizona band held the Rod Laver Arena crowd in the palm of its hand from the first notes of ‘Futures’ until the last note of closer ‘The Middle’.
The band delivered note-perfect renditions of ‘Sweetness’, ‘Big Casino’ ‘Work’, ‘Lucky Denver Mint’ and ‘A Praise Chorus’, showcasing the depth of one of emo’s most celebrated songbooks. Jim Adkins’ voice was pristine throughout and the band’s patented blend of emo and pop rock perfectly suited the arena setting.
The vulnerability of ‘Hear You Me’ resonated across the arena. As Adkins sang, “So what would you think of me now / So lucky, so strong, so proud / I never said thank you for that / Now I’ll never have a chance,” it was hard to fight back the tears. Closing with the raging ‘Bleed American’ and the feel-good ‘The Middle’, Jimmy Eat World departed the stage as beloved emo elders.
Jimmy Eat World – ‘Futures’
The passion of My Chemical Romance fans is unparalleled. As the lights went down and the New Jersey band launched into comeback single ‘The Foundations of Decay,’ the energy in the room bordered on hysterical. Tears of joy streamed down the faces of fans who’d waited a lifetime for this moment. Gerard Way was a magnetic presence out front, dressed in a power suit, complete with a white shirt and black tie, skirt, stockings and high heels.
The setlist hit every musical corner of the band’s varied catalogue. We heard the show-stopping melodrama of The Black Parade’s ‘This Is How I Disappear’, the post-hardcore assault of ‘Give ‘Em Hell Kid’ from Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge, and the industrial-disco stomp of Danger Days‘ ‘Planetary (GO!)’. Everything was delivered with a level of enthusiasm and excitement matched only by the fervour of the crowd.
My Chemical Romance – ‘Planetary (GO!)’
Way was a delightfully odd master of ceremonies. He tinkered with vocal effects and engaged in some wild tangents between songs, including trying out a voice best described as “emo Sméagol”. There was room for sentimentality too, with thanks given to the crowd for holding steady through the chaos of the last few years, and to Jimmy Eat World for not only joining Way and co. on tour, but for giving My Chemical Romance their first big tour in the early ‘00s.
Way’s bandmates were no slouches, either. Ray Toro frequently entered guitar hero mode throughout the set, proving he’s one of the most underrated guitarists of the emo rock era. The energy of fellow guitarist Frank Iero and bass player Mikey Way was infectious. The lack of backing tracks was notable, allowing songs such as ‘I’m Not Okay (I Promise)’, ‘Teenagers’, ‘Welcome To The Black Parade’ and ‘Famous Last Words’ to do all the talking.
I’ve been to hundreds of shows over the years, but I’m not sure I’ve ever felt the level of pure, communal joy that greeted the opening keys of ‘Welcome To The Black Parade’. The subsequent crowd sing-along was more impactful than any pyrotechnic display could’ve been. But My Chemical Romance still had a surprise up their sleeve: a mammoth live treatment of the bonkers emo-polka ‘Mama’, which ended the set on an unexpected high.
To the glee of old-school fans, ‘Vampires Will Never Hurt You’ from 2002’s I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love led a two-song encore. The gig closed with the Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge anthem ‘Helena’, causing absolute chaos to ripple through the dancefloor.