My Chemical Romance - Live in Toronto (Cover Artwork)

My Chemical Romance

Live in Toronto (2022)

live show

There are few times in life where you experience something that you thought was impossible. When it actually happens the joy it brings is beyond compare. I never thought that I would see My Chemical Romance live. They broke up before I had the chance and I had resigned myself to the fact that the only time I would ever see them live would be through concert DVDs. When the band announced reunion tour dates in 2020 my friend and I waited in front of our computers and luckily she was able to secure two tickets for Toronto. After two years of postponements due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we finally saw them on September 5 at the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Ontario and I’ve barely stopped smiling since.

When we walked into the arena, the energy was already electric. I felt like I was vibrating as we found our seats behind the pit. After a few minutes of settling in and talking to our seatmates, the lights went down and the first opener, Meg Myers, took to the stage. She ran through four original songs before closing out her set with a cover of “Running Up That Hill” by Kate Bush. The guitarist sounded great and Meg Myers reminded me of a slightly more industrial-leaning Grimes. I was unfamiliar with her work before the show and tried to keep an open mind but the songs bled into each other and something felt off about the performance. I couldn’t figure out what was giving me that vibe, maybe it was just an off night for them.

After Meg Myers had left the stage, a banner dropped down reading, “Here to give you a good 30 minutes. Frank, Gerard, Mikey, and Ray will be on soon. We’re called Waterparks. See you on the other side.” I knew a couple of Waterparks songs and had heard that they put on a great performance. I was not disappointed. The band came out swinging, launching right into “Numb” and blasting out a mixture of old and new songs with intense energy. Lead singer Awsten Knight paused briefly to address a heckler with humour before diving right back into the song without missing a beat. The band’s light show featured vividly coloured lights and went absolutely nuts when the breakdowns hit, especially during “Real Super Dark” and “Turbulent”. Waterparks’ energy was fun and never let up. We were up and dancing during their entire set and the time they were on stage sped by. Waterparks exited the stage to loud cheers as more people started to show up.

Now we were mere minutes away from My Chemical Romance coming out and the buzz of anticipation in the air was palpable. The house lights went down, colourful lights started roaming the stage, and an electronic hum filled the arena. This went on for about seven minutes before the band came out and started playing their new song “The Foundations of Decay”. The crowd went wild - there were screams and cheers and rapturous yells of “OH MY GOD” and “HOLY SHIT”. Gerard Way stood at the front of the stage wearing black cat ears, sunglasses, drawn-on whiskers, a black shirt and pants, and a tail as he sang and we sang back every word. Once the end note of “Foundations” was struck, the curtain background dropped to reveal a city in ruins and the band went right into “Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na)” followed by “This Is The Best Day Ever” off of their first album I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love. Then my world stopped. I heard that opening riff. I heard the paraphrased Sandman quote “For what you did to me/And what I'll do to you/You get, what everyone else gets/You get a lifetime” (Death says “You lived what anybody gets, Bernie. You got a lifetime” in Brief Lives). My dancing became more frantic, my voice became unhinged as I yelled along to every single word in my favourite MCR song ever, “It’s Not A Fashion Statement, It’s A Fucking Deathwish”. When the song ended, I felt like sobbing. It was such a special, cathartic moment and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. “Summertime” and deep cut “Bury Me In Black” followed. Then they played my other favourite MCR song, one that has meant so much to me over the years, “Save Yourself, I’ll Hold Them Back”. After Gerard sang, “Because this ain’t a room full of suicides” he held out the mic to the crowd and we roared back “We’re believers, we believe tonight” with such force that the band looked impressed. During the night Gerard would play with his vocal effects pedal so every so often we’d hear a giggle or a distorted sounding yell or words. He briefly explained this by saying, “You know those fans from the 80s that would change your voice? That’s what I’m going for”. We all laughed and it added to the fun, celebratory vibe in the arena. “I’m Not Okay (I Promise)”, “Cemetery Drive”, “Teenagers”, “Destroya”, “Boy Division, “You Know What They Do To Guys Like Us In Prison” (my friend lost her mind and almost lost her voice from singing along), “Surrender The Night”, and “Vampire Money” (when it was Frank's turn to say "I'm there baby" he ate the mic) blew past as Gerard, Frank, Mikey, and Ray moved around the stage looking like they were having the best time ever and we danced and sang like our lives depended on it. During a break between songs, Gerard looked into the crowd and said “it smells like weed in here” (it REALLY did) and called us “a bunch of fucking hippies” with a laugh before launching into the next song. At the end of “This is How I Disappear”, Gerard was laying down on the floor of the stage and then the opening riff of “Famous Last Words” started up. He sprang back up to standing incredibly fast and started singing with passionate energy. The whole crowd was screaming along to “I am not afraid to keep on living/I am not afraid to walk this world alone” and I teared up again. It was such a powerful, moving moment. After that song ended, we all heard that unmistakable G note and stopped breathing as “Welcome to the Black Parade” started up. I bet that you could've heard us from outside the arena, everyone was giving it their all, both on stage and in the crowd. Then My Chemical Romance walked off stage.

They were back on in less than five minutes and came back for a two song encore. They kicked the encore off with “Vampires Will Never Hurt You”. Then they started off "Helena" with a sing along call and response of whoahs led by Gerard. After the final “so long and goodnight” they walked off for real this time. I couldn’t believe that we had finally gotten the chance to see them after all these years and was still in shock that it had happened. Gerard, Frank, Ray, and Mikey all sounded phenomenal and looked like they were having the time of their lives. The band's energy never waned and by the end of the night Gerard's whiskers had been washed away by sweat. The relationship between the band and the crowd was extraordinary. There was a reciprocal energy exchange and such a feeling of connectedness that it felt like everyone merged into one entity.

I cannot overstate how amazing My Chemical Romance are live. Their energy is off the charts and the heart they put into their music is extremely apparent. It is impossible not to be moved and their show is truly something to experience at least once in your life. I hope that this is only the beginning of a new era for My Chemical Romance and I can’t wait until they tour again.