Review: Gerard Way at Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth (20/08/2014)

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Announcement on Monday, tickets sold out within a minute on Tuesday, show time on Wednesday. Whoever kept Gerard Way’s first solo show a secret deserves a medal. Hundreds of fans rushed to their computers on Tuesday to be in with a chance of getting a ticket to his Reading and Leeds warm up show at Wedgewood Rooms in Portsmouth and I was one of the lucky ones.

I arrived at the venue at roughly 5pm expecting to be at the front of the queue, but having made all the wrong assumptions about Way’s new material not bringing people this early on, there was an insanely dedicated fanbase in the form of a 50 strong queue to prove me wrong, some of which had arrived at 6am that morning.

Choosing the play Wedgewood Rooms in Portsmouth seems to be a trendy thing to do for huge names these days, for example Damon Albarn chose to do one of his Everyday Robots shows there earlier this year, which actually segue nicely into Gerard Way playing the venue with his new Brit-pop influenced record. In the lead up to the release of Hesitant Alien, Gerard has said he was heavily influenced by the likes of Blur and Oasis, for example, in a recent interview with Rolling Stone, he said: “I remember stuff like seeing an issue of Select magazine that had Damon from Blur on the cover, wearing a schoolboy outfit, and I was like “This is it.”” Way is aiming to bring this British movement to America, in his own unique style.

The Hormones, Way’s band, took to the stage before Way and with this started the fuzzy guitar feedback I had come to expect after reading interview upon interview about where this new record is headed. Way strutted out onto the stage donned in a black suit and tie. The way he works the stage shows years and years of experience in front of a crowd, yet the newness of the material means that he shows a drive to impress and a vulnerability in front of the small crowd.. The flamboyant mannerisms we are used to seeing remain as he flicked his hands back and forth, conducting a crowd who obey his every demand. It’s endearing to see Gerard without the veil of an alter-ego; this is really what he wants to do now, and everyone in the room can see it and believe it. This is most prevalent when he sings a song titled ‘Brother’. With true emotion he explains how this song is about his brother, and ex-My Chemical Romance bass player, Mikey Way. The track is a beautiful piano-led ballad, in which Way’s signature vocals take center stage.

He played all the tracks from his upcoming record Hesitant Alien along with an awesome cover of ‘Snakedriver’ by The Jesus and Mary Chain. Here is the part where all the stand out tracks should be mentioned, however, this has been made very difficult by Way producing something of an awe-inspiring solo record. ‘Action Cat’ and ‘No Shows’, the two songs we have already heard, were performed in the live setting with an energy that transcends the recorded versions. On tracks ‘Millions’ and ‘Drugstore Perfume’ Way pranced around the stage banging a tambourine. He is notoriously one of the world’s greatest front men, and in a Bowie-esque manner this has translated perfectly onto his solo performance.

Towards the end of the set Way admitted that it wouldn’t be a long show as they only have one record, meaning no My Chemical Romance songs would be performed this time. I could almost feel the devastation around me from the fans donning all of their MCR merch, I, however, relished this. Having already admitted that My Chemical Romance should have ended after The Black Parade, this show of new material means Way is at ease with himself, a side we haven’t seen in a while.

What Gerard has done with this solo project is really thought it through. The whole look and feel of the show was electric, and it completely made sense. His band, ‘The Hormones’ deserve a special mention as it was clear from the word go that they are on exactly the same page as Gerard; impeccable musicianship, and all in tune with the ‘Brit-pop’ ethos Way is all about now.

 

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I’m Megan Downing, an English Literature graduate from University of Southampton. I am the Music, Arts and Culture Editor for The National Student. I am the Membership and Communications Officer for the Student Publication Association, I write about music for 7BitArcade, and contribute regularly to The Culture Trip. I have a passion for live music and this is where I began in student journalism. Reviewing a gig or festival is still where my heart lies four years on. I will be starting at MTV as a News Intern in June 2015. One thing you should know about me is that I have an unhealthy obsession with Kevin Spacey.

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