MCR @ Stadium Merdeka

Text Muna Noor
Images Warner Music & Matt Armitage

Who knew our forefathers would strive so hard for independence so that we could be free to rock. Free to wear eyeliner and black clothes. Free to listen to whatever the hell band we wanted to and not have to be chided for our musical choices – that’s right haters. Cordoned off in one massive rectangle within Stadium Merdeka with the twin peans to Malaysia’s towering success (Petronas Towers and KL Tower) winking at the crowd through the increasingly torrid downpour, a purported ten thousand fans were free to rock out with My Chemical Romance.

Queuing since 6pm, with a long gap between One Buck Short and Pop Shuvit’s furious workout and MCR’s entrance, a volume setting falling far short of 11, and mum and dad in the audience (it was a school night), all of this threatened to put a damper on, were it not for some seriously f**k off- stadium-sized anthems and frontman aka ringleader Gerard Way’s inescapable tortured magnetism. But tonight the “American Sex Boys” “weren’t here to hang out”.

Against a backdrop of Gerard’s blood thirsty wolverine demons, the motley band of Jersey boys Gerard and brother Mikey (finally back after a long hiatus), touring keyboardist James Dewees, guitarists Frank Ieto and Ray Toro and replacement drummer Tucker Rule of Thursday (for Bob Bryar) powered through material from 2006’s stellar The Black Parade and breakthrough effort Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge with intense ferocity – ‘This is How I Disappear’, ‘I’m Not Okay’, ‘I Don’t Love You’, ‘Teenagers’, ‘Helena’….

Despite the scaled down rock operatics, it was Gerard who held it together, mercilessly attacking each with plenty of venom, face contorted , body taut with emotion until spent at the end of ‘Sleep’ he collapsed in full emo-melodrama only to rise, tongue firmly in cheek warbling the refrain from Queen’s unlikeliest hit ‘Flash’. We were expecting ‘Under Pressure’ which they covered with The Fall, but with influences drawn from much older musical artists than its audience, it was inevitable some of it would remain lost in translation. The same can be said of Ray Toro’s affecting dirty swamp blues solo.

When the final refrain of ‘Famous Last Words’ signaled the end of the short but powerful 70 minute affair, the crowd was at one with MCR, as drenched from rain as Gerard was from sweat, makeup just as muddled, hair equally as plastered to our skulls. By 10.30pm some of these fans must have been tucked in bed, wearing their new but fake MCR tees, while the rest of us nursed our whiplashed necks. Yes we’re free to do that too.

My Chemical Romance in Concert was presented by Channel X Pax on 9th December at Stadium Merdeka. This report was published in the February 2008 issue of JUICE.