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Think Happy Thoughts: The Return Of My Chemical Romance

Thursday, 23 January 2020 Written by Huw Baines

Think happy thoughts.

Think happy thoughts.

Think happy thoughts.

Think happy thoughts.

Think happy thoughts.

My Chemical Romance.

Milton Keynes.

June 20, 2020.

There’s a happy thought.

It’s certainly a reward for the dreamers. Since they pressed self destruct in 2013, the idea of My Chemical Romance getting back together always felt like a bit of a long shot, even with today’s hyper-lucrative nostalgia circuit puking half-forgotten records into bigger venues than the ones their authors played during their pomp.

But the thought was always there: that this lot would clean up if they fancied getting back in a room together. Still, the folks who paid attention the first time around could tell you that any reunion would involve walking a tightrope based on trust—any missteps and they’d be ruined. Forever. My Chemical Romance were not the sort of band who could simply rise from the grave only to treat their fans as ATMs in flesh suits. To the kids down the front they were a movement: a big idea that, against the odds, became an even bigger reality. 

After busting out from a New Jersey basement their early thrashings didn’t suggest they were set for superstardom. They might have nabbed a co-sign from Thursday frontman Geoff Rickly right out of the gate, he produced 2002’s ‘I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love’, and a few high profile reviews, but in reality that record suggested only a garden variety amount of goth-punk promise. And yet it was a start that album two capitalised on in a major way.

Let’s wind the clock forward a few years, and take a look at an example of how things can blow up just around the corner from where you’re standing. In 2005 I was in my first year at university, and as the summer rolled around I dragged my booze-sodden carcass to Download at Donington. Fifteen years along the line, the bill still looks like a bit of a dog’s dinner—it was the early days, and Feeder headlined on Friday to a field of nonplussed metallers waiting for Black Sabbath’s Saturday set and pyrotechnics on Sunday from Slipknot and System of a Down.

Nestled midway down the second stage line up on the opening afternoon were My Chemical Romance (their pals in the Used followed, then Billy Idol). I’d spent the whole year devouring their second LP, ‘Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge’. I thought it was a monumental stride forward from their scrappy debut, and it dominated the conversation on my iPod for months on end. I was so amped up for their set that I spent almost the whole day in the tent in an attempt to secure a good spot. 

Well, so did a million others. By the time My Chemical Romance hit the stage and tore into Helena, the place was uncomfortably packed. With that many bodies jostling for space, the sound was choppy, and the view was constantly changing for the worse. Gerard Way, clad in a flak vest, navigated a wall of dry ice. It was brutally hot. It wasn’t a classic set by any stretch of the imagination, particularly if you were anywhere close to the barrier. But holy shit was it an event.

It wasn’t just the music that had moved on. My Chemical Romance had become My Chemical Romance. This was high drama designed to band together outcasts and romantics: a sometimes toxic combination that is undeniably potent. I knew that it couldn’t just have been me who cared, but back in the mists of a time pre-social media hype and easily accessible niche information, I wasn’t expecting anything on that scale. 

It was immediately apparent that I wasn’t alone. And how many other young music fans found that out at later My Chemical Romance shows, or when they pressed play on Welcome To The Black Parade? Or when the image of Gerard Way uttering a primal scream on a beach in Normandy smashed its way into their living rooms? This is the tightrope that the Way brothers, Ray Toro and Frank Iero must walk now that they’ve decided to suit up again: this shit matters to people, so it better matter to the people on stage. Fortunately, the early signs are good.

There have been hints that new music is incoming (a surefire way to silence some doubters and get some real skin in the game) and as countless phone videos confirmed, their comeback show in Los Angeles was a big old outpouring of emotion. It began with a declaration of intent in the form of I'm Not Okay (I Promise) and its now iconic intro, which cribs a little of the blue collar romanticism Bruce Springsteen dubbed ‘Jersey soul’: “I don't wanna make it, I just wanna…” But there’s one comment that sticks out beneath a clip of the set’s opening moments, one comment that encapsulates why the adults down the front still give a shit after all these years: “It was never a phase.”

My Chemical Romance Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Sat June 20 2020 - MILTON KEYNES Stadium MK

Click here to compare & buy My Chemical Romance Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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