Outside the O2 Guildhall in Southampton passers by stopped to enquire as to why there were so many scruffy teenagers forming a line in the cold. I didn’t blame them, it was 12 o’clock, so why would anybody be waiting for a show that starts at 7?
It’s difficult to explain the emotional power of the art produced by Gerard Way to those who can’t understand it, but to those dedicated fans he is more than a musician.
No Devotion were the support, a band made up of ex members of Lostprophets and fronted by Thursdays’ Geoff Rickley. From the moment they took to the stage they had command of the crowd, a highlight being the chorus of voices repeating the chorus of 2013 single ‘10000 Summers’. This band deserve to go far and judging by the applause of the crowd as they ran off stage, they may well do.
The lights went down at 9pm exactly and The Hormones, Gerard’s band, took to the stage to play the introduction to ‘The Bureau’, guitar fuzz and thumping bass. Then suddenly out bounds the man himself, bleach blonde and ready for action. Gerard smiles brightly at the crowd and launches into song, jumping all over the stage, he’s a burst of energy and the crowd, predictably, go wild. Having a headline show and only one album means Hesitant Alien gets played in full, along with new and previously unheard songs.
When he pauses for breath, Gerard chats to the crowd, joking and laughing. “You guys are so funny!” he exclaims as a flower crown flies on to the stage. Halfway through the set Gerard pulls a fan, dressed as album mascot Lola, up onto the stage to play the tambourine, exclaiming “That was the most fun I’ve had this whole tour!”.
Every song is precise and delivered with meaning. Brother, gets the huge crowd sing along it deserves and new track Kid Nothing gets people moving. Nobody is moving however, quite as much as Gerard. He tears across the stage, dancing, clapping, running left to right and back again. He blows kisses to the fans, drops to the stage floor. He seems propelled by the music.
What I notice, having seen MCR a few times, is that the pent up aggression behind his tone of voice is gone. Gerard looks genuinely happy here on this stage, his energy fills it and the rest of the room with an air of positivity. Tonight he’s not rallying up an army of killjoys, he’s not a spokesperson for a misguided generation, he’s a man who looks comfortable and happy to be performing art he truly believes in.