My Chemical Romance’s The Black Parade was one of the albums I named as a Five Star Album, and as it celebrates its tenth anniversary, many are reflecting upon it as a highlight of the decade. I would go one further and name it as a highlight of all time. The accompanying tour was also reported to be a theatrical masterpiece, with the band posing as their own fictitious support act/frenemy ‘The Black Parade,’ before playing an extended greatest hits encore. It was sadly a tour that never came to Australia (despite being advertised, a streetpress interview in the lead up saw Gerard Way asked about bringing ‘the whole Black Parade shebang to town with the disappointing reply, ‘We’re bringing a whole new shebang…’) but a tribute act decided to do it themself.
Bang at Royal Melbourne Hotel, Melbourne, October 22, 2016…
As the band set up on stage, the audience discussed where they were when the album was released. ‘I was in grade 4!’ hollered a woman, as I realised, I had been at almost the same place for the album’s release as I was tonight. Thursday night patrons were debating their preference between Next at Brown Alley or Goo at the Metro when the album was released, and songs from Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge were still popular at each. A launch party with a ‘secret city location’ had been announced, and ended up being at Next – found by either word-of-mouth, educated guess, or the distinctive black blimp hovering above the club.
On stage tonight, members of Gossamer Pride, Hideaway, and other bands switched from setting up their equipment to standing with their backs to the audience. They pulled on matching Black Parade uniform jackets to become Teenagers and started, in keeping with the album, the old-rock opening duo of The End and Dead! The tribute band sounded good, and looked it too, in their uniforms and make up. Rather than continuing with The Black Parade the group wove various hits from other records – mainly Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge – amongst the songs from the album of the day. It was unexpected, and initially questionable – I’d hoped for the Black Parade tour we never had – but the extra songs mixed up the set from the predictable.
After the frontman explained that ‘It really hurts to sing this one,’ Cancer proved a set highlight, thought they were noticably skipping songs from the album. The frantic sing-along of Mama was also popular. Surprisingly, the tribute act’s namesake song, Teenagers worked very well as a live tune, despite being the weird low-point of the original album.
I’m not used to seeing tribute bands, but Teenagers, led by Bang regular Matt McKinnon, put on a true tribute and really respected their source material. It would have been nice to have had a little of the group’s own flavour in, but perhaps that isn’t the point. Maybe it was just wishful thinking based on the pedigree of the members, but this was nevertheless a fun night and a worthy anniversary party to one of the finest albums around.