My Chemical Romance begin three-night residency at Stadium MK with career spanning show

Gerard Way “It’s been two and a half years since we’ve been able to do this – lets have some fun.”

By David Jackson
Friday, 20th May 2022, 1:47 pm
Updated Sunday, 22nd May 2022, 4:47 pm
My Chemical Romance, Stadium MK, Milton Keynes, May 19, 2022. Photo by David Jackson.
My Chemical Romance, Stadium MK, Milton Keynes, May 19, 2022. Photo by David Jackson.

After two comparatively small ‘warmup’ gigs in Cornwall this week, My Chemical Romance kicked off their three-night residency at Stadium MK last night with a stunning career spanning set.

The emo-rock behemoths reformed in 2019 and one global pandemic later, are at the very start of a world tour.

Their first gig in the city was a joyous reminder of just how much My Chemical Romance mean, not only to the ‘elder-emos’ who were there first time around at the turn of the century when the band broke through with their multi-platinum selling second album Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge, but also to the generations which followed with many now watching them for the first time.

My Chemical Romance, Stadium MK, Milton Keynes, May 19, 2022. Photo by David Jackson.

Along for the ride with MCR were Manchester all-girl punks Witch Fever, post hardcore quartet LostAlone and alt-rockers Placebo.

Fronted by Elizabeth Fraser, Witch Fever put in a ferocious opening set to kick off proceedings.

Prowling around the stage and glaring angrily out at the audience, they created such the impact LostAlone were always going to have trouble following them.

When the latter did arrive, frontman Steven Battelle joked his oversize ‘hot-coral’ coloured coat made him look like a giant Monzo debit card. (Pantone 17-1656 TXC in case you’re wondering).

My Chemical Romance, Stadium MK, Milton Keynes, May 19, 2022. Photo by David Jackson.

Besides that, it was a pretty ‘by-numbers’ set of post-hardcore but still went down well enough.

It was Placebo’s first “really large” show for about five years according to frontman Brian Molko.

Now-a-days, while the band is centred around the singer and guitarist and Stefan Olsdal, live they’re augmented with at least a further three members and as a result sounded huge.

Placebo’s latest album, Never Let Me Go, was probably their best since 2006’s Meds and a good chunk of their set featured tracks from it.

My Chemical Romance, Stadium MK, Milton Keynes, May 19, 2022. Photo by David Jackson.

The likes of Forever Chemicals, Beautiful James and Hugz were all split with deeper dives into their back catalogue including Kitty Litter and Bionic.

While Placebo and My Chemical Romance may not strike you as natural bedfellows, the former have always had a foot in the goth-tinged alternative space which MCR also occupy and it was clear as Molko and Olsdal strutted around the front of the stage, they were enjoying every second of their set, with The Bitter End and Special K among the highlights.

Ahead of MCR’s live return, the release of new single The Foundations Of Decay gave fans an insight into what ‘2022’ My Chemical Romance would sound like.

The longer, darker track, arguably shared more in common with their debut LP, than the emo-rock anthems and pomp of their more fun moments.

My Chemical Romance, Stadium MK, Milton Keynes, May 19, 2022. Photo by David Jackson.

The secret was already out that they had been opening with their new single, but it was unlikely anyone inside Stadium MK was expecting frontman Gerard Way to appear onstage in a ‘blood splattered’ white suit, back gloves and a white mask with Meta written on the forehead and with holes ripped in the mouth and across one eye.

In fact, you could only really be sure it was him when the chorus kicked into the opening track and his signature vocals rang out across the stadium.

If Foundations was a slower, more brooding opener, Helena - one of the biggest anthems from the band’s breakthrough LP - sparked both fans and band into life.

Guitarists Ray Toro and Frank Iero and bassist Mikey Way hurled themselves around the stage, while the still masked Way glared out at fans.

Eventually, Way removed the mask, ruffled his hair and paused to speak to the packed stadium, “Who’s coming to all three nights, it’s different every night.

“it’s been two and a half years since we’ve been able to do this – lets have some fun.”

My Chemical Romance, Stadium MK, Milton Keynes, May 19, 2022. Photo by David Jackson.

And that’s exactly what their set was.

The 21-song set was a fairly even split between their three biggest albums, with only Skyline and Turnstiles from their debut record getting an outing.

The thrashy sing-along of Teenagers and Na Na Na were reminders of how much fun MCR can be.

Way was on chatty form throughout the set, encouraging fans to hold lighters (not camera phones) aloft and also paused to briefly talk about the weather, a stray cat he adopted during the pandemic and to ensure medical assistance was given to a fan in need at the front.

The arrival of THAT ‘G’ piano note at the start of Welcome To The Black Parade was met with screams as camera flashes lit up the arena and MCR raced through one of their biggest, most Queen-esque hits.

Songs like The Ghost Of You, DESTROYA and set closer The Kids From Yesterday were a reminder of the breadth of My Chemical Romance’s repertoire.

Then, after returning to the stage for their first encore, Way introduced the band’s biggest hit I’m Not OK (I Promise) as “the greatest summer jam of all time” and again sent fans into a frenzy.

There was a touching moment at the end of the night were Way revealed a large white flag with the names of fans who had originally intended to be at one of their shows (before they were postponed and subsequently rescheduled) but had sadly passed away.

There were huge cheers as he held the flag aloft.

It's easy for certain corners of the music world to sneer at My Chemical Romance, but during the early 2000s they were the soundtrack to a generation of teenagers and 20 somethings and arguably saved the rock genre.

Looking out at the crowd inside Stadium MK, it’s clear that 20 years on since their debut album, My Chemical Romance continue to be relevant for the generations which followed and it’s great to have them back – even if it’s just for a new single and a jaunt around the world one more time.

My Chemical Romance played:

The Foundations of Decay

Helena

Give 'Em Hell, Kid

Make Room!!!!

Teenagers

Summertime

The Only Hope for Me Is You

Boy Division

DESTROYA

Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na)

Welcome to the Black Parade

The Ghost of You

It's Not a Fashion Statement, It's a F****** Deathwish

Thank You for the Venom

Mama

Famous Last Words

The Kids From Yesterday

Encore:

Skylines and Turnstiles

Mastas of Ravenkroft

I'm Not Okay (I Promise)

Encore 2:

Vampire Money

My Chemical Romance, Stadium MK, Milton Keynes, May 19, 2022. Photo by David Jackson.
My Chemical Romance, Stadium MK, Milton Keynes, May 19, 2022. Photo by David Jackson.
My Chemical Romance, Stadium MK, Milton Keynes, May 19, 2022. Photo by David Jackson.
Placebo,, Stadium MK, Milton Keynes, May 19, 2022
Placebo,, Stadium MK, Milton Keynes, May 19, 2022
Witch Fever, Stadium MK, Milton Keynes, May 19, 2022
Lost Alone, Stadium MK, Milton Keynes, May 19, 2022
Fans inside Stadium MK, Milton Keynes, May 19, 2022. Photo by David Jackson.
Fans inside Stadium MK, Milton Keynes, May 19, 2022. Photo by David Jackson.
Fans inside Stadium MK, Milton Keynes, May 19, 2022. Photo by David Jackson.
Fans inside Stadium MK, Milton Keynes, May 19, 2022. Photo by David Jackson.
Fans inside Stadium MK, Milton Keynes, May 19, 2022. Photo by David Jackson.
Fans inside Stadium MK, Milton Keynes, May 19, 2022. Photo by David Jackson.
Fans inside Stadium MK, Milton Keynes, May 19, 2022. Photo by David Jackson.
Fans inside Stadium MK, Milton Keynes, May 19, 2022. Photo by David Jackson.