LIVE: My Chemical Romance, Placebo @ Stadium MK

By Adam Rosario

March 22nd 2013. This was the date that My Chemical Romance announced their split, deciding that they didn’t want to continue creating music for the sake of it. Fast forward to Halloween 2019, and they’d announced their live return for December of that year, at The Shrine in LA. After that, they announced a series of UK shows, including tonight’s in Milton Keynes… and then the world then shut down. But finally, after two long years of anticipation, My Chemical Romance are back. 

First up though, Placebo are given the unenviable task of warming up the crowd. They take up this challenge ably, with frontman Brian Molko slinking his way round the stage, delivering his lyrics with his trademark drawl. Focussing their set on their latest record ‘Never Let Me Go’, they run through ‘Forever Chemicals’, ‘Hugz’ and the standout ‘Surrounded by Spies’, alongside classics ‘Kitty Litter’ and ‘The Bitter End’ before closing on ‘Infrared’. Placebo came and did their job with aplomb, being the impressive and reliable hand they’ve always been. 

You could be guilty of thinking they would be rusty, but My Chemical Romance come flying out of the traps and never let up. ‘The Foundations of Decay’, their first new song in eight years, opens proceedings to screams, and every lyric is sung back at the band to the point that it is hard to hear Gerard Way sing himself. Then comes ‘I’m Not Okay (I Promise)’ which causes bedlam in the crowd – The audacity of MCR to play one of their biggest songs second! This is a band who have way too many anthems to have only released four albums, and this was the first deafening reaction of many from the night. Way also discloses to the crowd that he has a ‘detonator’ which turns his voice into Megatron, and utilises it throughout at random times, making him sound both sinister and sillier.

MCR then take the audience on a whirlwind tour of their back catalogue, including ‘Make Room!!!’ from their ‘Conventional Weapons’ album, released just before their disbandment. The original arrangement for ‘Bulletproof Heart’ (originally named ‘Trans Am’), is also aired for the first time in 11 years. ‘Summertime’ lights up the stadium in a flood of phone lights, whilst ‘This Is How I Disappear’ opens the pits up again. Before ‘Famous Last Words’, Way gives a speech about the late Riley Gale from Power Trip, paying tribute and recounting how he started dressing like Riley subconsciously, even continuing to do so on stage – A fitting tribute to a great man. 

‘Teenagers’ starts off an incredible third act run, descending into ‘DESTROYA’ which sees Way slink his way around the stage as guitarists Frank Iero and Ray Toro play the hardest they do all night. ‘Mama’ however gets the loudest breakdown, as if the sound engineer has accidentally turned the volume all the way up. ‘Welcome To The Black Parade’ is predictably met by the biggest reaction of the night overall. This is the song where pits reopen, phone lights are held up again, lungs are emptied and tears are shed. ‘Black Parade’ is their signature song and receives every reaction that has happened throughout the night all at once, leading to a truly memorable moment.  

A two song encore of ‘Boy Division’ and ‘Helena’ close a night that many have waited years for. MCR have return to reclaim the top of the live scene throne, and it feels ludicrous to think that a band who took eight years off are still one of the best live bands in the world. Tonight saw no theatrics, no big concept, just four mates playing a rock show. As good as they played and sounded, the best part of the night is seeing how excited and happy they all are to be back on stage again, wide grins shared, hugs exchanged, and a band who are living in the here and now. Whatever comes next, this night will live in everyone’s memories for a long time.