Romance foregoes the concept, brings the rock

Gerard Way (seen here in Los Angeles in 2010), the frontman for My Chemical Romance. Gerard Way (seen here in Los Angeles in 2010), the frontman for My Chemical Romance. (Getty Images/File)
By Marc Hirsh
Globe Correspondent / May 9, 2011

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Some of the trappings of the story line behind My Chemical Romance’s post-apocalyptic concept album, “Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys,’’ were evident before a note was played: the scuffed-up amps, the motorcycle helmet and masks lying around, the numbers on singer Gerard Way’s shirt and Frank Iero’s guitar. But the sold-out crowd Thursday at the House of Blues didn’t come to hear a story, and the band was smart enough not to slavishly stick to the album’s running order.

Sure, things kicked off with “Na Na Na (Na Na [etc.]),’’ which spun so fast and hard that it nearly flew out of the band’s grasp, but “Danger Days’’ closer “Vampire Money’’ reared its head five songs in, with earlier songs tossed off in between. That let their songs be songs, instead of chapters.

With a hint of generational-spokesman thrall over the audience, Way made a striking and effortless frontman. On the dark cabaret-punk of “Mama,’’ he preened around the stage resplendent in a purple boa and hair the hottest pink of anyone this side of Rihanna, and when he would wave his arms or make hand-hearts, the crowd immediately followed suit in lockstep.

The rest of the band didn’t distinguish itself in the same way, except insofar as they formed a solid, fierce unit. Even material that might have seemed like filler, such as the busy “Vampires Will Never Hurt You’’ and the aggressive gallop of “Hang ’Em High,’’ never dragged.

The best songs, on the other hand, proved how great a band My Chemical Romance has become. “Welcome to the Black Parade’’ was perfectly pitched Queenly grandeur, and the explosion that greeted each chorus of the chugging “Teenagers’’ made it clear that the crowd got the social-panic joke of the band’s funniest song.

Or maybe it wasn’t a joke. Way spoke several times about older fans taking care of the newer ones in the audience, and songs like “Sing’’ and the closing “Bulletproof Heart’’ had a defiant us-vs.-them stance. But even with its battle lines drawn, My Chemical Romance was adamant about welcoming folks onto its side.

With their guttural, locked-in twin-guitar attack, openers the Architects were like AC/DC given a Warped Tour makeover. They were followed by the dramatic and hyperactive grind of Thursday.

Marc Hirsh can be reached at


With Thursday and

the Architects

At: House of Blues, Thursday