When American solo artists tour the UK for the first time, they shouldn’t really expect to sell out a venue as big as London’s KOKO, which sits in the heart of Camden. Gerard Way, however, is a special case, as the former My Chemical Romance frontman has easily turned most (if not all) of the band’s huge fan base on to his new brand of indie rock.
First up on the bill were Blackpool natives Darlia, who excelled at winning the crowd over with their style that rings of Oasis and The Smiths. The trio had many of the front row singing along, but really that’s no surprise as some of the most dedicated of My Chemical Romance’s fans turned up to multiple dates of the tour to support Way’s new endeavours. A track that went down particularly well with the crowd was ‘I’ve Never Been To Ohio’, with its odd choice of title, and as a result, lyrics, it was definitely a talking point among the audience, who generally seemed to enjoy the band’s set despite them being quite different from the headlining act.
Chantal Claret skipped on to the stage next, supported by her two incredible backing singers and drummer. The former singer of rock band Morningwood, Claret has modelled her solo career on the styles of some of the 60s’ biggest female powerhouses, and it’s far from a bad move. Her catchy, if not somewhat comedic tunes, such as ‘Burn It Down’ and ‘No Good Way To Die’, had the crowd energised and ready to go, which is always a welcomed attribute from a support act. Many My Chemical Romance fans are also fans of Mindless Self Indulgence, whose bassist Lindsey Ballato is married to Way – so the surprise of MSI’s singer Jimmy Euringer heading out to perform ‘Davy Crockett’ with Claret (who happens to be his wife) had ear-piercing screams ringing out across the venue. Besides if Claret’s music wasn’t enough to win over the audience, her dance moves surely did!
Gerard Way was welcomed on to the stage by the crowd surging forward, desperate to get a look at the man who likely wrote the soundtrack to their teenage years. Way only has one album out, entitled Hesitant Alien, so his set list was made up of the entirety of the album, plus a few cover songs – and it didn’t seem as if the crowd had even the slightest complaint about that. Singles ‘Action Cat’, ‘No Shows’ and ‘Millions’ sparked the most sing-a-longs across the three storey venue, though most of the crowd seemed to be incredibly on point when it came to screaming the man’s lyrics back to him.
Instead of choosing cover songs that would be easy crowdpleasers like most artists do, Way went with The Jesus And Mary Chain’s ‘Snakedriver’ and James Cecil’s ‘The Water Is Wide (O Waly, Waly)’ – quirky tracks that are not so well known, but fit his show’s theme perfectly so as a result, were enjoyed by all, even those who were only hearing the song for the first time that night.
In some cases frontmen who strike it solo following the demise of their bands sometimes lose the incredible stage presence that they had become famous for, but that is not how things are for Way, who still struts across the stage with a knowing smirk – all eyes are on him. It might be somewhat heartbreaking for fans to not see some familiar faces surrounding him, but the future is bright and with Way planning to release a second album early next year, it’s clear that there’s no stopping him.