Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Greatest Night of My Life - My Chemical Romance Review

On Saturday I had the absolute pleasure of finally living out one of my greatest dreams. Not only did I get to see my favorite band of all time perform live, but I had the immense honor of photographing them. This opportunity is, and likely will remain, the biggest achievement of my professional career. But, respectfully, this experience wasn't about my work.

In fact, I've found it extremely difficult to find the words to write this review. The desire is there, to shout from the rooftops how this was the greatest live performance I have ever seen, but no words in my vocabulary seem to hold enough power to truly describe what I felt that night.

I could easily say that the MCR show was special because I have loved them since I was a teenager. That would technically be true. However, the reality is so much more than that. As most of us have, I have been waiting for this show for nearly three years. That is a lot of anticipation and expectations to live up to. 

I have been following the entire tour via fan live streams, jumping around from link to link, choppy pixel to pixel, just trying to get a glimpse of the unique brilliance that every night on tour has held. Still, it was magical. I had a solid idea of what I could expect from the night. The ever-changing setlist, the unpredictable costumes, the hilarious stage banter, and, of course, some of the most passionate and talented artists to ever grace a stage.

Somehow, I was still not expecting Gerard to come out covered head to toe in a sheet. Of course he would be a ghost. It's brilliant. That, however, is my only complaint about the night. The idea was inspired; he looked super cool. B, but I was standing in the pit, ready to photograph his face. The gorgeous, expressive face that only Gerard has. I wanted to see his face. 

I got over that disappointment quickly. Who else could look this stunning while obscured by a garb of fabric? Gerard is so charismatic. You could still see and feel all his emotions during the songs. His voice was perfect, even through the barrier.

The first three songs (the only ones photographers get to shoot) flew by. My camera and photography skills failed me slightly, though I could have probably gotten better shots if I had focused more on framing than fist pumping. But as I said, my first reason for being at the show was not work. I was there to see My Chemical Romance live. I suppose that means nearly hitting another photographer as I jumped around to "I'm Not Okay". That memory will last me as long as any photograph.

It's fitting, perhaps prophetic, that Gerard dressed as a ghost because I felt as though I was watching from outside my own body. It was incredibly surreal. It was electric, a powerful current of emotion surging through my body, yet at the same time, it like I was watching it happen to someone else. Like it was a dream or a movie.

After the three press songs were over, I literally ran back to my seat to join my children who were also having this transcendent experience. I'm not in shape, and I don't run for anything less than emergencies, so that should tell you how important this is to me. Already embarrassingly winded from a short sprint, I still huffed out every word to the next song-- and every other song that I wasn't recording.

It was a precarious balance of trying to live in the moment, and preserve the moment. Screaming, singing, jumping, waving our arms at Gerard's prompt, as well as trying to video and take photographs (even, at times, with two cameras simultaneously.) 

The photos from my seat are not high quality by any means, but as a veteran fan, I am used to images that look twice cooked in a microwave, and a least you can see them; all of them, since Gerard took off his costume about eight songs into the set. It helps that the guys have never taken a bad picture. 

I love seeing the guys interact and play off of each other's energy. It's obvious how much fun they are having and how they are still just a group of best friends doing what they love. That is what has made this tour so unforgettable. This isn't an act, it's not a job: it's art, passion, love for the fans, love for each other. Bias aside, I cannot think of another band on this level who are as genuine, kind, creative and passionate as My Chemical Romance.

I have said a thousand times "this band is special" but that doesn't even begin to describe it. They are a once-in-a-lifetime kind of band. I am so lucky that I got to be a part of the generation that grew up with such positive role models and inspiring music. I can literally say that I would not be the person I am today without the contributions of My Chemical Romance - if I would even be alive at all.

I could write forever about the incredible show that the band put on. Gerard's voice: just as powerful and hauntingly beautiful as it was 20 years ago. Their smiles: happiness literally beamed from their faces. The music: even better than the studio versions. Each song is subtly refined as the band has matured as musicians. Everything about the show was perfect, and nothing I could say could do justice to just how life-changing it was.

I do need to talk about something else, though. Something that can't be planned or practiced. The experience of standing in a crowd, nearly 30 thousand strong, everyone of the same mind for 90 minutes. People of every age, gender, religion, and financial status, all feeling the same things. It's incredible. There was a moment, during The World is Ugly, when the crowd turned on their cell phone lights. I have seen this on streams and recorded videos. I have heard the reactions of other fans, being awed by how bright it gets. But it's something you can't truly understand until you experience it.

We weren't in a dark arena anymore, it was high noon on a cloudless day. It was so bright. And it may sound cheesy or cliche, but that perfectly describes how MCR's music affects me. It's the beacon of light that has guided me through all of the darkest points of my life.

I think I have rambled quite enough for one post, but I will end by saying that My Chemical Romance is still 'that band.' The one who works harder than everyone else. The one who puts every piece of themselves into their art. The band that doesn't follow a formula or a script because they are not a product, they are a revolution. This show was 'that show', the one I will never, ever forget, and MCR is and always will be 'that band.' I am so thankful.