Show Review: Gerard Way @ Paradise Rock Club 10.19.14
by Jackie Swisshelm (Journalism), published December 24th 2014
Sunday October 19th was a cold, dry night in Allston but that didn’t stop Gerard Way fans from donning single layers of My Chemical Romance merch and lining up outside the Paradise hours before the 7pm doors. Thirteen year olds and thirty-somethings alike waited, shivering, outside the venue in a queue that easily strung past Goodwill and wrapped around Raising Cane’s. The sign above them simply read “Gerard Way, sold out.”
By 8, fans were packed in tight along the Paradise’s balconies and bars, and the crowd was buzzing with anticipation. Opening band The Eeries took the stage, half commanding the room with grunge rock tunes, half knowing that their performance would feel like filler. Whether it was sheer anticipation for Way, or genuine enthusiasm for the band, the crowd actually got into the long-haired, 90s-inspired, Philly-based group by the end of their half hour set.
After a short intermission, the lights dimmed, the crowd surged, and a note was struck on an electric guitar. A repetitive hi hat joined in with familiar notes from a keyboard, and Gerard Way stepped out onto the stage to receive a very loud, very eager welcome from every person at Paradise that night. Way emerged wearing that same outfit he’s worn so far on the Hesitant Alien tour: blue suit/red tie/red hair/gorgeous face. In other words, he looked like the best damn outfit repeater in music history. And then began his opening song, “The Bureau.”
Backed by The Hormones, Gerard Way delivered a performance with all his usual quirks. He had the weird, involuntary shapes his hands take while singing to each song. There was his brilliantly unapologetic attitude. And the banter between songs was there. In fact, it seemed like Way almost did as much talking as he did singing. After half-screaming through his rendition of “Juarez” (which seemed like a nod to his MCR performances, but maybe that’s just a nostalgic assumption), Way asked if anyone had ever “dreamed about getting away from where you were born,” before diving into a very heartfelt performance of the “Drugstore Perfume–,” a song Lyn-Z (a.k.a. Lindsey Way, his wife) helped name. Perhaps the most important moment of the night was when the artist addressed the majority of his audience—young women—telling them, “Everyone at the top is deathly afraid of you young women,” because “it’ll all slip away from the old, white dudes who are in charge of everything and the world will be a better place.” Way pointedly exposed himself as a quasi-feminist and a father here, and it was really refreshing to hear a man who is an idol to so many young women actually address this fact. Before his second to last song, “No Shows,” he also talked about mental illness and urged the audience, “Don’t give away control for free”—a sentiment relevant to both his teen fans and adults.
Musically, Way was so invested. He took the crowd way up and right back down from emotional ballads like “Brother,” to rocker gem “Action Cat” and previously unreleased songs “Dasher” and “Television All the Time,” to sleazy, fuzzy songs like “Get the Gang Together” and Bowie-inspired “Maya the Psychic.”
What I’m trying to say is that Way’s most recent work, especially played live, is simply honest. This work goes back to his pre-MCR days, to the music that essentially made Gerard Way the bizarre, talented singer/songwriter he is today. The pretentious 70’s glam rock, the 80’s post-punk, and the 90’s Britpop and shoegaze tunes we hear from Way is him pulling off his early oughties, goth-kid veneer, and his lyrics about alcoholism and pre-9/11 New Jersey finally reveal a coming-of-age story for the 37 year old artist.