My Chemical Romance: Live in Milwaukee, 8/23/11

Muruch’s Mid-West reviewer/photographer Jen “Coble” Hopper‘s love of My Chemical Romance knows no bounds. After her four-part series on MCR’s Mid-West Tour last April, Coble still asked to cover the band’s set in Milwaukee Tuesday night. My Chemical Romance performed at Marcus Amphitheater as co-headliners of the Honda Civic Tour with Blink182. You can read Coble’s thoughts about the concert and see her photographs below…

My Chemical Romance, co-headliners of the Honda Civic Tour, rocked the stage at the Marcus Amphitheater in Milwaukee, Wisconsin Tuesday night. Unfortunately, the band’s energetic set was met with poor sound as well as an undersold and lackluster crowd.

The band delivered an outstanding performance and a refreshed setlist that included many well-loved tunes that haven’t been performed in recent tours.

The setlist included:
“Na Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na)”
“Vampire Money”
“Planetary (Go!)”
“Welcome To The Black Parade”
“I’m Not Okay”
“Famous Last Words”

Throughout the set, lead singer Gerard Way attempted to charm and energize the audience with his antics such as crawling across the stage, making suggestive gestures with a microphone and practically begging the crowd to start a mosh pit.

Also of note, guitarist Ray Toro’s stage energy was a welcome return to this show after a broken foot left him relatively stationary for their last tour. He and guitarist Frank Iero anchor each side of the stage with endless whirling and headbanging throughout the show.

“Cancer” was a curious end to this set, as it is a serious ballad sung only with piano accompaniment. As is typical, the crowd responded best to singles from the popular album, Welcome To The Black Parade, but “Cancer” was lost on Milwaukee’s audience.

The disappointing crowd and the poor audio were challenges My Chemical Romance met head on and did their best to overcome. Last tour’s headlining performance at the Rave was met by a much more enthusiastic crowd, so I suspect that co-headliners Blink182 (as well as higher ticket prices) may have been a factor for the crowd present at this show. Because really, what’s not to love about a modern punk rock band with giant, confetti-filled balloons?

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My Chemical Romance Official Site

Neon Trees: My Chemical Romance’s Mid-West Tour

Following is a bonus photo set of Neon Trees from Jen “Coble” Hopper‘s series on My Chemical Romance’s Mid-West tour. You can see Coble’s three-part photo series of the MCR concerts in Part 1: Milwaukee, Part 2: Chicago and Part 3: Grand Rapids and her collective review of the tour here. Coble had this to say about Neon Trees: “Vocalist Tyler Glenn was a whirlwind of energy, jumping dancing and flying across the stage. Neon Trees had the audience amped, dancing and singing along to tunes like “Animal,” “1983” and “Sins of My Youth” from the album, Habits.

Buy Neon Trees Music @ Amazon

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Check out Coble’s review of MCR’s new album, Danger Days, and view/buy more of her awesome photos at JLHopper Photography.

Neon Trees Official Site

My Chemical Romance Official Site

My Chemical Romance Mid-West Tour: The Review

Following is Jen “Coble” Hopper‘s collective review of of My Chemical Romance’s tour of the Mid-West last week. You can see Coble’s three-part photo series of the concerts in Part 1: Milwaukee, Part 2: Chicago and Part 3: Grand Rapids.

Getting to follow My Chemical Romance around the Midwest portion of their World Contamination Tour was a wonderful opportunity not only to enjoy three great performances by the band, but to observe the different personalities of each city’s crowd.

The setlist is a really diverse mix of their catalog, including even “Vampires Will Never Hurt You” from their 2002 debut album, I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love. (Note: Chicago’s setlist photo is missing because the Aragon stage is at least 10 feet high) There were some slight changes and surprises, too. The setlist wasn’t completely static and saw some changes and surprises: Milwaukee was the only date treated to a cover of The Damned’s “Neat, Neat Neat” and Chicago’s crowd missed “The Ghost of You” (likely not in an effort to end the show in time for curfew). Grand Rapid’s setlist was as it appears in the photo:

However, what is not listed is a Pencey Prep breakdown (guitarist Frank Iero’s old band) between songs. The pleasantly embarrassed guitarist Frank Iero did not participate, but Ray Toro was quite pleased after he nailed the guitar riff. Lead singer Gerard Way filled in lyrics he could not remember with “La La Las.”

Prior to the start of the tour, Gerard shared that their touring keyboardist, James Dewees, would be using a lot of interesting equipment with unique sounds for their live show, and that they had also invested in some impressive lighting. The whole package paid off as a high-energy trip for your eyes and ears, from the tinkly keys and xylophone sounds during The Black Parade‘s “Mama” to the sirens and mix of techno in “Planetary (GO!),” the throbbing dance tune from Danger Days. With all of this, they have reimagined their classic tunes and amped up even the latest tracks.

Next, the performance–these guys BRING IT to every show. “We’ve been at this for ten years. We’re a professional fucking rock band,” Gerard proudly told the crowd in Milwaukee, strutting across the stage. Each of these guys stands out in every performance: Iero never stops moving, twisting his body even as he screams into his mic. He headbangs and writhes and interacts with the crowd, stepping closer to shout along with them. Mikey Way brings the focused, introspective bass playing and rockstar stance, nodding along and occasionally breaking into a sideways headbang. Gerard is a commanding front man. While he is obviously not in character and is perhaps less animated facially than during the Black Parade tour, he’s still constantly moving and feeding off the crowd. It’s less theatrical, but no less dramatic. When he tells the audience to jump, to clap, to sing along, the crowd responds eagerly. Mike Pedicone is an absolute madman on drums. Guitarist Ray Toro is ALL smiles, ALL the time. That is a man who loves his job, even when his foot is broken (he broke it a few shows back.) All of these guys can shred.

Another item of note regarding Gerard’s vocal performance: obviously a lot of (especially early) MCR is heavy, and Gerard belts out those tunes loudly, definitely screaming at some points. But he starts the encore with “Cancer” nearly a capella, and his vocals are spot on, not strained. His voice is crisp and beautiful. “Cancer” is not my favorite recorded song, but it never fails to make me cry when he performs it live. The drama of the spotlight on him and the simplicity of the piano accompaniment is quite moving.

Despite the heaviness of much of the music and the roughness that can come with that, it is impossible to attend an MCR show without noticing by way MCR cares for its fans and in turn, the way these values are reflected within the audience. There are people of all ages at these shows – I literally saw eight-year-old and an eighty-year-old fans at Milwaukee. And while the crowd is smashed together, moshing, constantly jumping and giving back all the energy, they’re also watching out for one another. At every show, Gerard reminds the crowd to pick someone up if they fall down, to take care of each other. And they really do. These crowds have no tolerance for jerks. There’s an amazing unity in the audiences for these shows, despite any age differences.

Now and then, something happens that tells you that you’re right where you’re supposed to be. Being part the crowd for My Chemical Romance is that kind of experience for me. I leave MCR shows with my life affirmed, with a faith renewed in humanity and in our youth.

Buy MCR Music @ Amazon

Check out Coble’s review of MCR’s new album, Danger Days, and view/buy more of her awesome photos at JLHopper Photography.

My Chemical Romance Official Site

My Chemical Romance Mid-West Tour: Part 3: Grand Rapids

This is the final installment of Jen “Coble” Hopper‘s three-part photo series from My Chemical Romance’s tour of the Mid-West. You can see Coble’s photo set from the Milwaukee concert in Part 1 and the Chicago set in Part 2. Her collective review of the three concerts will be posted later this week. Following are her shots from the April 16th performance in Grand Rapids, Michigan…

Buy MCR Music @ Amazon

Check out Coble’s review of MCR’s new album, Danger Days and view/buy more of her awesome photos at JLHopper Photography.

My Chemical Romance Official Site