It takes a special kind of artist to draw in crowds three days before the event. Yet according to a local resident, fans have been camping in the alleyway outside the Brixton Academy as early as Wednesday in anticipation of Gerard Way’s headline show. This seems hard to believe since the show isn’t sold out, but why let the truth ruin a good story, right? Gerard Way was the spokesman for a generation in My Chemical Romance, and since the release of his debut solo album (2014’s ‘Hesitant Alien’) he’s reinvented himself as a successful artist in his own right. But before that, there’s another group on their own quest for regeneration who have their chance to shine.
No Devotion (7) formed from the ashes of Lostprophets and feature Geoff Rickly (formerly of the band Thursday) on lead vocals. On paper, they’re the perfect opening act for Gerard Way. Geoff Rickly and Gerard Way have a long history together, with both singers paying their mutual respects at different points during the night. Both projects are also steeped in nostalgia. They wear their influences proudly on their sleeves. And both feature musicians attempting to move forward and put the trappings of their previous bands behind them – albeit for very different reasons. No Devotion’s synthpop sound (inspired by bands like Depeche Mode, New Order and The Cure) pleases Gerard Way’s fans too. They save the best for last, with singles 10,000 Summers and Stay bringing the set to a lush and ethereal crescendo. Now they just need to write a few more hits like those…
Gerard Way (8) already has plenty. With just one album to their name, he and his band The Hormones can fill a set with solid original compositions and switch seamlessly between 70s glam rock, 80s post-punk, shoegaze and 90s Britpop, whilst retaining their own unique sound and identity throughout. And they open tonight with two tracks that didn’t even make the album – the elegiac, piano led Cheap Lights and rock ‘n’ roll stomper Kid Nothing. From here Way and the band breeze through the sleazy grunge of Zero Zero, the Pixies-esque Millions, the feral noise rock of Juarez, and The Jesus And Mary Chain-inspired Drugstore Perfume with confidence and ease. Another unreleased track (Television All The Time) and a piano interlude take us through to the half way point of the set, before fan favourite Brother makes a much appreciated appearance. This song – a tribute to his brother and former band mate Mikey Way – bears the most resemblance to My Chemical Romance, but still manages to sound like a new chapter in Way’s song writing career. And it features a beautifully vulnerable vocal performance.
Like No Devotion, Gerard Way saves his best material for last. After performing the last three songs off Hesitant Alien in sequence – Get The Gang Together, How’s It Going To Be, Maya The Psychic – he ends on fuzzed out anthem No Shows, before coming back on for the first of two encores with the even more fuzzed-out and anthemic Action Cat. Considering these songs have only been around for six months, the response they receive is astonishing and already sound like classics. The night reaches a close, but not before Gerard Way treats Brixton to one more encore. He covers Snakedriver by The Jesus And Mary Chain in tribute to the band that informed part of his debut album’s songwriting. Whilst this song perhaps goes over the heads of some of the younger fans in the audience, it’s clear Gerard Way has grown up and it’s great to see so many people on board for the ride. Things can only get bigger for him from here.