(NEWARK, NJ) -- My Chemical Romance brought their Reunion Tour to Prudential Center on September 20, 2022 and Jennifer Petrics was there to cover the show and take photos. The Homeless Gospel Choir and Thursday opened the night. After more than a decade without touring (and band-made jokes that the Black Parade Is Dead), the parade marches on. And My Chem fans couldn’t be happier to be in the procession.
Hailing from Newark, NJ, the band was welcomed home in true reunion fashion, at their home base, The Prudential Center, to a swarming reception, swelling with Jersey pride. Joined by openers The Homeless Gospel Choir and Thursday, the bands performed to a packed arena. Thursday’s Geoff Rickly (also from NJ) interchanged sets with Gerard Way of MCR, for a song apiece, singing together on Jet Black New Year and This Is the Best Day Ever, respectively.
Minutes before My Chemical Romance took the stage, eager fans were waiting, while surrounded in wall-shaking noise bass: a full reverberating, buzzing distortion, which felt like a mothership landing over the Prudential Center. Presumably, this was symbolic of the SWARM… the images which pervaded all over the merch stands (of seeing large fly prints). Welcome to the SWARM… perfectly on brand for the first song. The stage was soon engulfed in fog, and the dystopian backdrop of a city in ruins set the tone… right out of the comic book pages from The Umbrella Academy (a comic and Netflix series written by Way, and of which a 4th and final season is on the way). MCR’s opening song was appropriate for the mood too, The Foundations of Decay.
Fans were excited and buzzing over what outfit singer Gerard would come out in, and, for Night One of the home shows, he did not disappoint. He emerged on stage as a formidable black shadow, decked out in black shades, a black catsuit with a full cape (which resembled bat wings with arms outstretched), and black knee-high artillery boots. More powerful than this presence, though, was how Way was heavy into sound production and effectively created a sense of theater with his voice/mixer, experimenting with things like pitch/echoes and filling the arena with really impressive vocals. Like a true rock band, there was no need for special effects; the band was more than enough... and MCR put on a rock show! They brought the punk of the Ramones with the flare/spirit of Bowie, the gusto of Queen, and the rock of the Smashing Pumpkins. At times, during stage banter, Gerard sounded like Vecna from Stranger Things with the low, rumbling growls… which made me think that I would love to see the actor (also musician) Jamie Campbell Bower as a guest on stage with MCR! One day!
Before the show started, as legions of MCR fans were queuing up, it was evident that it’s one fan base that can be who they truly are and express themselves genuinely and uniquely. It felt good to be in good company, and I’d like to think of us all as “beautiful misfits”… or just real people. The intro to The World Is Ugly resonated here, because Gerard was offering up the affirmation that, in a world that can be so ugly, this song is about staying beautiful, no matter how ugly it gets. And one of Way’s universal themes (like in The Umbrella Academy) is creating beauty out of destruction and loss.
I asked one of the biggest fans a generalized question: “Why do all the millennials love MCR so much?” And the answer was simple, “Because we’re all depressed.” This is a testament to the enormous success their single I’m Not Okay (I Promise) has seen, which broke the band into the mainstream. We are living in a time of unparalleled stress and frustration, from which we are desperately seeking release. Music heals the soul and serves as a therapeutic device, of which there is psychological-backed evidence. Music acts as an agent to purge negative emotions, regulate mood, and provide comfort. At the biological level, it produces the hormone prolactin, which helps counteract pain/loss and reduce stress. Likewise, it allows listeners to disengage as well as mitigate feelings of loneliness, isolation, and depression.
Speaking on release, MCR’s most iconic song in the band’s history, Welcome to the Black Parade— the song which catapulted them to meteoric heights—embraces this theme on many levels. Given a succinct interpretation by the fan I spoke with, the black parade (like the funeral march) symbolizes the transition into death, or the passage out of life. It has become the band’s longstanding emo anthem of the century, reflective of grief and loss. Way says that a theme that he’s explored in ‘Black Parade’ was “the triumph of the human spirit over darkness, over tragedy.” And digging into the archives of interviews a bit, I learned some haunting and chilling facts. The album was recorded at a haunted mansion called The Paramour, where darkness permeated through the life of the album (and the band, having experienced strange occurrences while staying there).
Other chart topping, favorite MCR songs in the setlist included Famous Last Words, The Ghost of You, and Helena— which the crowd received with unbridled energy. During Teenagers, strobe flashes accented the bass drum like muzzle flash and swirling plumes of smoke. The first of the encore songs, Demolition Lovers, was the first performance of the song since 2004, and at the very end, the audience was so hyped that security guards found themselves catching swarms of crowdsurfers spilling over the barricade.
If fans wanted to get their hands on the coveted Prudential Center exclusive limited edition MCR x NJ Devils shirt, they had to wait in swarms of lines which wrapped around the whole arena. The night had shifted into the Black Friday Parade… everybody wanted one! Apparently the shirt sold out within the first 30 minutes on both nights, and the resale price is outrageous. I heard a rumor that there will be a limited amount available at the Devils opening home game, on October 15th at the PRU, (it is not my intention to spread misinformation, but just in case) so keep your eyes out!
In short, MCR had the perfect homecoming (Night One of Two); it was an epic parade of loyal fans in NJ who welcomed their liege bandleaders with open arms. A major cause for celebration after a long awaited return. THANK YOU, MCR!!! We’ll carry on!