Friday, 7 November 2014

Gerard Way - Oxford O2 Academy, 06/11/14

I will admit, the main reason I was excited for this show was the support band, Darlia, and they did not disappoint. With their grunge revival sound, they weren't exactly the obvious choice for a support band for Gerard Way, but I'm glad they were chosen because they're actually very good live. I only caught the end of their set at Reading Festival, but you could tell by the crowd response and the buzz surrounding the tent for ages afterwards that they were definitely in the top acts of the weekend for many of the attendees. 
Despite the fact that all of the songs started blending into each other in the middle, they were all quite well performed so this wasn't a massive problem. If you have a formula that works, you might as well work it into as many different songs as you can, and no one seemed too disillusioned with what they were doing, even though many of the audience members were utterly unresponsive due to their anticipation for Gerard. I'm not quite sure that vocalist Nathan Day is quite used to crowds this big because his interaction with the crowd was lacking, but you can tell this band are going places because the crowd reaction for 'Dear Diary' demonstrated that they are capable of writing hits, they just might need to find their niche and carve it out a bit more.

I've Never Been To Ohio
Stars Are Aligned
Choke On Bones
Dear Diary 
Queen Of Hearts

Ten minutes before Gerard was due on stage, the chants of "Gerard Way!" were already filling the venue, and on the one hand I was extremely impressed with this reaction, because it's the best crowd I've ever seen at this venue, but on the other hand he probably only incited this reaction because of his previous work with My Chemical Romance. I understand that when a band breaks up and their members go solo, people will automatically and blindly support said solo projects because of the fact that they supported the previous band, but I couldn't help wondering if it was Electric Century or FrnkIero AndThe Cellebration performing a headline show, if it would even sell out, let alone cause this level of mass hysteria. One of the biggest reasons this annoys me is because Gerard Way's debut album, 'Hesitant Alien', is actually really good - the songs are well written, they stand out amongst all of the samey-samey stuff that's being released recently - but I don't think it would have gotten the attention or the mass support if he didn't already have such a huge fan base behind him. If an unknown artist made an album like this, I don't think it would put them on the map, but the songs deserve recognition for being amazing, not just for being Gerard's. 
Don't get me wrong, Gerard Way puts on an amazing live performance. When I saw his festival debut at Reading back in August I was beyond impressed at the direction he was going in with his music, and I was again blown away by his performance as a front man. However, it's just an obvious fact that he is too big for a venue like this one. I know he wanted to start off with smaller shows to test the waters with his new material, but I wish I'd experienced it in a live environment like Brixton instead of this one. The acoustics were overwhelming and overbearing, in a terrible way - it felt like an aural onslaught, but it wasn't a pleasant one to experience. This could have been due to the acoustics of the venue or the sound production, but the backing track ringing phone at the end of the first song, 'The Bureau', was louder than Gerard's vocals were the entire night, so it was automatically headache material. I know this can't exactly be tallied up to Gerard himself, but when you've been going to gigs for as long as I have it takes a hell of a lot of noise for it to be too much noise, but that's what I was feeling through sections of this concert. Between 'Millions' and 'Juarez' there were wailing guitars and overpowering static noises that was just a wall of sound, it couldn't even be described as music. 
Contrastingly, Gerard's vocals were more on point than I'd ever heard them before. During 'Juarez' he was throwing his entire soul into the performance, and through 'Television All The Time' into his cover of 'The Water Is Wide (O Waly, Waly)' he showcased his vocals superbly, demonstrating exactly how he came to be such a world renowned talent. 
Despite the fact that the overall effect of the gig left me coming away feeling disappointed, Gerard's showmanship has not declined in the last three years since I first saw him live. He had the audience eating out of the palm of his hand, preaching "If you're here tonight and you're transgender, I love you. I love you for being you", "[Women] you're going to be in charge and I love it, I can't fucking wait for it, I can't wait for women to be in charge" and "Just be really good to each other, which you will be because you're really good people. Never comment on somebody else's body again, that's easy, we can promise that!" proving again why he has often been labelled 'the voice of a generation'. Between this, getting someone up on stage to play tambourine for him during 'Get The Gang Together' and talking to a girl in the crowd who he recognised from Twitter, it just shows why Gerard is a superb human being, and even though his solo material isn't the same as My Chemical Romance, not in the slightest, it's not surprised that he hasn't lost any fans through the transition to the grungy BritPop he's displaying to all of us tonight. He's one of the nicest guys I've ever met, and even though I wasn't exactly in love with the whole performance, I still have the utmost respect for him as a person.

The Bureau 
Action Cat
Zero Zero
Drugstore Perfume
Television All The Time
The Water Is Wide (O Waly, Waly) (cover of James Cecil)
Get The Gang Together
How It's Going To Be
Maya The Psychic
No Shows
Snakedriver (cover of The Jesus and Mary Chain)
I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone (cover of Slater-Kinney)

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