Gerard Way rounded off his debut UK solo tour at a sold-out Koko last night. Here's five things we learned from the evening...
Gerard’s fans are as devoted as ever.
With a backdrop featuring Gerard’s new big pink monkey friend Lola, and a soundtrack of David Bowie acting as a prelude to the main event, there is an awful lot of excitement in the air in anticipation of Way taking to the stage. The unquestionably passionate fan base he commanded back in his My Chemical Romance days are just as fiercely committed and vocal in their adulation tonight, with chants of ‘Gerard!’ (clap clap clap) breaking out spontaneously at random interludes. When Way does take to the stage there is an undeniable giddy thrill in seeing an enigmatic performer take to a stage far smaller than we’d been used to seeing him on.
Gerard Way doesn’t do anything by half.
While Gerard was never shy about expressing his love for the post-punk of the ‘80s or ‘90’s BritPop, in his My Chemical Romance days it wasn’t so clear how these influences played a part in that band’s dizzying mix of brilliant ideas. In his new solo venture those influences have come to the forefront, and are applied with acute precision, encompassing everything from the guitar tone to his now familiar blue suit.
His live band really bring these song to life.
Way’s solo material has divided opinion amongst the MCRmy, with those more quaint influences a far cry from his former outfit’s punk rock roots. But with his new band behind him, the songs from Hesitant Alien are given an extra dimension live. The sass-filled Zero Zero gets the crowd bouncing, Millions has a pretty, yet fragile, feel, simultaneously raising smiles and drawing tears, and there’s a dirty swagger to Get It Together, while the fuzzed up guitars of Juarez have a raw punk edge that is full of energy. It’s clear that Way hasn’t completely turned his back on the more aggressive side of music.
Ultimately it’s Gerard’s vocals that steal the show.
The main thing that makes these songs sound so strong live is Gerard’s voice, a voice that has fixed just as many hearts as it has broken over the years. No matter what the musical backdrop it has a powerful and effecting quality that would be captivating when applied to any genre. While on the whole there’s a jovial mood to the performance tonight, it’s the raw emotion that is ever present in his enigmatic vocals that is the driving force behind this show. The piano-led cover of James Cecil’s The Water Is Wide is a haunting showcase of how Way is capable of making people relate to and share in his pain.
Gerard Way has well and truly established himself as a musical icon.
While there’s little in the way of an actual show here, Gerard provides so much star appeal that he alone provides a greater attraction than Rammstein being booked for your local bonfire night. The Hesitant Alien title of his album seems an apt fit for the singer. While at times there are still flickers of the vulnerable kid that first took to the stage, there’s something otherworldly about him that makes his mere presence on stage capable of raising a smile. The erratic way he moves around is an example of his unhinged brilliance come to life, and he effortlessly commands the crowd with the most subtle of hand gesture. While the Bowie influence on this era of Gerard Way is obvious it’s not a case of one star trying to hi-jack the shining light of another. Way is an icon in his own right, an icon for a new generation, and one with a mind bristling with so many weird and wonderful ideas that it’s incredibly exciting to think about what he will bring us in the future.