My Chemical Romance at the Eden Project, St Austell, Cornwall 16.5.2022 with Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls supporting
This a novelty…. and what a place for My Chemical Romance to embark on a UK tour from, their first appearance in the UK since 2011.
The dome-shaped stage nestles between two treble biodomes, surrounded by greenery and rocky edges: it was a massive quarry once. The all-standing area, holding around 6,500 people, sweeps back and up in a crafted bowl. To the right-hand side is a ‘calm’ viewing area with loads of space amongst blossoming trees: the antithesis of a mosh pit, with a decent view. Our vantage point is up on the rear platform, stood behind the mixing desk below (here with gig buddy Dave). There is freedom to wander it seems, although on a photo taking amble I was asked to put my larger camera away as it was too big for non-media pass holders. I declared it on the entry search but hey-ho I do what I’m told – I still have my pocket zoom which is ‘allowed’.
It really is a lovely place to see a band, providing it’s not raining or blowing a gale I guess. The civilised end of rock’n’roll.
Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls
Punky-folk Frank is perhaps an unusual choice to warm up for My Chemical Romance (MCR) but he does it, and more. The front is bouncing with the opener Four Simple Words.
Frank Turner is a great at crowd interaction – this is his 2,622nd go at it. Frank keeps a close eye on how many gigs he’s played, as evidenced in his autobiography in which he traces his history from Eton school days (!) through his hard-core punk band years, drug-fuelled waywardness and on to playing at the GB Olympic opening ceremony.
Plain Sailing Weather is another appealing one mid-set – ‘I could f*ck up anything’ – as his 45-minute set races by. This is the sixth time I’ve seen him, not always with a band or the Sleeping Souls; all since Reading Festival 2012, and it’s always a good time. He’s boisterous and would never let an audience just watch; they have to take part.
I’ve acquired a fair range of his CDs and if I had to recommend one it would be Tape Deck Heart, but maybe Songbook is a good bet as it has new songs as well as his pick of the best of his first ten albums…yes 10.
They finish upbeat with Recovery and the heavy acoustic strum of I Still Believe. A good start to the evening. A really lively, engaging, compact set. It’s still light but with a heavy cloud blanket overhead so the lights start to show, from the stage and in the biodomes.
My Chemical Romance (MCR)
The stage is ready. The final roadie gestures to the mixing and lighting desk are over… then a loud distressing buzzing and clicking starts… it gets louder… are they coming on? This is exciting stuff: when a band of this influence, on fans if not the music industry, return after 11 years. But what’s this noise…. aha, The Swarm logo on some of the merch stand stuff (including the £100 coat). A bee related new album coming out?
It gets louder and on they come. It stops. They start.
They open with Foundations of Decay, a new song and single that hasn’t been played live before. The packed front section is a little static – the new song stops everyone going nuts, which was what it was building to.
The second song Helena is from their 2004 album, detail I have to check out later on the setlist. I can’t claim any early MCR credibility. It was the 2006 album The Black Parade that I came in on.
I went over to Belfast to see them at Kings’ Hall in November 2007 on that tour (with previous partner Ellen, and fuelled by her enthusiasm for Gerard Way). They were just on the crest of everything – massive. I looked for some old YouTube clips but they’re all dreadful. You can just about get the mayhem and excitement from them in the blur of bright flashing lights. It was billed as the tour to put The Black Parade album to bed.
It’s a brilliant album that focuses on death – goth, emo, pop, post-punk rock…everything rock genius. The Welcome to the Black Parade track is the predictable highlight for me tonight – I’m so glad they played it (Phone clip on my YouTube channel). Teenagers, Mama and Sleep from that album also feature tonight to keep some familiarity for me.
(They don’t play it tonight but if you don’t know The Black Parade album and you want to take yourself to a euphoric low, play Cancer… “Baby I’m just soggy from the chemo, But counting down the days to go.” Just how Emo is that one.)
MCR just aren’t predictable and the pace of the songs varies hugely through this set and with some really rock/ metal guitars at times. On their return, the old eyelinered image, spikey dyed black hair and punk goth uniforms are gone.
Gerard Way now has a calmer less wild-eyed look, with artistic beard and almost a prog rock haircut, but a few songs in and he’s sweated up looking more like the New Jersey rocker he is; stooped over his synth pad and scrabbling around on the stage to find his hair brush, commentating on this incidental search.
Besides, the more relaxed approach to stage image didn’t last long as I read that two days later at Milton Keynes he came on with the dyed black hair and fake blood splattered white suit. Still got it Gerard… hopefully less messed up these days. Chemical romances can’t go on for ever eh.
The band, including brother Mikey Way on bass, look excited to be back and romp around the trashed city, war zone-like set. I guess we have a less hard core MCR crowd in – the Eden Sessions aren’t a handy choice more most. Hence the audience has its quieter moments, especially with the new or novel choice. It’s a set full of variety. The steam rises from the front crowd as the set draws to a close.
The first encore: Boy Division (2004, but first time played live apparently) followed by the familiar I’m Not Okay. Last song is from the 2010 Danger Days album: The Kids from Yesterday. The kids are back. Enjoy the ride as they rip through Europe like they’ve never been away. Some bands just bleed excitement more than others.
I’m Not OK ( YouTube link from tonight – not mine.)
I love it when you see a band and the first thing you think is that you want to see them again.