For most angst-ridden teenagers, there will always be that one band with which you’ll forever feel a strong connection. One band who struck a chord with teenagers worldwide was the American quartet My Chemical Romance, whose eclectic frontman Gerard Way has gone solo since their disbandment back in 2013. Having released his Britpop-infused debut album Hesitant Alien back in the autumn of 2014, he’s currently busy touring it through Europe, taking in Amsterdam’s legendary Melkweg last night with support from MTV Brand New-nominees Nothing but Thieves.
London five-piece Nothing but Thieves haven’t even got an album to their name, yet their powerful mix of bluesy-rock has got plenty of people talking. They were recently announced as one of the nominees for MTV’s annual Brand New award, alongside BBC Sound of 2015 champions Years & Years and future Virgin Festival headliner James Bay. Their short 30-minute set was powerful from the word go, climaxing in an epic rendition of Ban All the Music, which bears resemblances to fellow contemporaries The Family Rain as much as it does The White Stripes. Early single Wake Up Call also saw frontman Conor dance a bit ahead of a massive, slightly Snow Patrol-esque chorus. The near-sold out crowd gave them a quite remarkable reception, something unheard of for a support band these days. It’s definitely quite straightforward to see why Nothing but Thieves are stars of the future, and tonight’s show was just the beginning.
A short half an hour later and the lights dimmed as screams erupted all over the venue before Way’s backing band, The Hormones, took to the stage. Set opener The Bureau slowly kicked in with raw guitar splices and jazzy piano stabs, before Way took to the stage emphatically shouting “Get up! Get up!” The Bureau’s deliberately sloppy vocal style lent itself well to Way’s voice as he commandeered the stage in front of some 1,500 fans. As a ringing phone aided the show opener fade out, the band powered on through with a strong rendition of Action Cat, Way’s debut track. It has a very simple alternative groove to it which gives it a slightly “coming of age” feeling. Way’s backing band are a very tight set of performers, with fuzzy distorted guitars taking the lead on Action Cat. “I said I miss you, said I miss you too” he wailed (despite there being frequent sound issues) as every single voice in the room shouted it back at him. There wasn’t much room to breathe as Zero Zero’s pounding drums and jangly guitar riff preceded 3 minutes of grungy chords and a deep chant of “Calling Zero, Zero, Zero” Throughout the whole show you can sense that Way’s voice definitely lends itself very well to this newer style of music, as opposed to My Chemical Romance’s angsty, borderline “emo” output. No My Chemical Romance songs feature tonight, something which is probably for the best despite an abundance of their merchandise in the crowd.
Way took a moment to talk to the crowd after Zero Zero, introducing himself and thanking the crowd for their upmost support. “I was at a point in my life where I wasn’t sure if I would ever make music again, but thanks to you guys I can. Thank you” was just one example of the grey-haired (it’s his current colour of choice) Way’s gratefulness. Millions followed with an upbeat chorus before the uber-grungy Juarez did its best to encourage some crowd pits to no avail. A pulsating riff, underpinned by some fuzzy bass, preceded some messy vocals and feedback distortion which added to the overall chaotic effect. “I’m a heavy metal master” murmured Way, singing “down and around when the cops come down” as the whole crowd sang back. Way then went on to dedicate Drugstore Perfume to a very close friend of his, as the song incited the first hands-in-the-air moment of the evening thanks to its supreme balladry and acoustic-led verses. The unreleased Stop Leaving then followed, showing signs of possible new music on the way and a hint as to what album two may sound like. A short piano jam based on My Chemical Romance track Ambulance preceded Brother, a piano-led tearjerker. At the close of the track, Gerard took out a moment to talk about bullying as he referenced gender neutrality and equality. It received a massive cheer from the crowd, especially once he started talking about how people should leave home if they want to pursue their dreams.
The energy picked up again during Get the Gang Together as Way referenced his buddies Rico and Sly ahead of a catchy chorus, before How It’s Going to Be’s marching band drums and euphoric guitars preceded Maya the Psychic. Way once again took out a moment to talk, this time addressing the crowd regarding mental illness. Maya the Psychic, which features one of Way’s happiest choruses, is about mental illness and the stigma attached to it; something which he likes to address at every show. As the song reached its upbeat final chorus, one fan decided to pop her own mini confetti cannons, something which Way profusely thanked her for. The unreleased, grunge-heavy track Don’t Try made way for main set closer (and set highlight) No Shows, Way’s biggest song to date. It’s a mid-paced power-ballad with an extremely infectious chorus, something which was very much noticeable as the whole room sang along without fail. A euphoric chant of “we don’t need no shows” ensured that Way left the stage to nothing less than plenty of cheers. As he re-emerged 2 minutes later for a one-song encore, it was very clear to see that Way means a lot to everyone in this room. The show ended on a high dosage of euphoria by way of the a cover of The Jesus and Mary Chain’s Snakedriver, a song most of the audience would definitely not have known but served as a nice introduction into a legendary band.
Even though the music we’re used to hearing from Way is considerably different to this, I think you could safely say that he’s currently very deep in his comfort zone doing exactly what he loves, very well.