I attended my first My Chemical Romance (MCR) concert this past Tuesday. My soon-to-be 13 year-old and I arrived two hours early as I was always curious how they would be at a live event. This was MCR’s first NJ concert in a decade as they originally hail from Belleville— just a few miles from where they would be playing at Prudential Center in Newark. Although they didn’t seem overly sentimental, they did mention the desire to drive around their old neighborhood as they seem to miss their old stomping ground. Nevertheless, they rocked the sold out show, which was attended by over 15,000 fans.
Gerard Way, MCR’s lead singer, said “We’ve been looking forward to this (night) all tour.” Growing up as a punk outcast that liked comics and music, Way and company never expected the success they achieved. Considered one of the most prominent rock bands to come out of New Jersey in the last 20 years, they worked their way up the ladder of fame. They used to play in smaller bars and venues such as Loop Lounge in Passaic, Maxwell’s in Hoboken and surf festivals in Asbury Park.
What struck me as surprising was the mix of Gen X, like myself, amongst a large group of teens who evidently discovered the band as their music transcends multiple generations. MCR got their start in late 2001 when Gerard called up his good friend Matt and brother Mikey (Way) to start the group after witnessing the 9/11 attacks on his way to work at the Cartoon Network.
After Gerard had witnessed the attacks of 9/11 in-person, he went home that day and wrote the very first My Chemical Romance song “Skylines and Turnstiles.” While Gerard was seeing the carnage unfold from Hoboken, he felt empathetic because most of the people around him had family and friends at The World Trade Center when the twin towers ultimately collapsed. Gerard explains himself as a very emotional person— he felt badly for the people around him and witnessing human beings falling from buildings impacted Gerard deeply. At that moment, he was thinking “What am I doing with my life?” Gerard wanted to start a band to help people, because he felt sitting in his basement writing comics would not benefit the world in the same way that his music could. The rest is history.
New Jersey has had a heavy impact on the band. The concert would not be complete without Gerard bringing lead singer of Thursday (also from NJ), Geoff Rickly, on stage to sing “This is the Best Day Ever.” According to Way, he had helped him record this song when he “knew nothing about dynamics.” Gerard expressed his love for the band Thursday before performing the song. It was great to watch two Jersey bands jam together as they shared a mutual respect for each other’s craft and success.
My Chemical Romance’s Full Setlist
Sept. 20, 2022 — Prudential Center, Newark, N.J.
- “The Foundations of Decay”
- “I’m Not Okay (I Promise)”
- “Give ‘Em Hell, Kid”
- “I Never Told You What I Do for a Living”
- “Cemetery Drive”
- “This Is the Best Day Ever” (with Geoff Rickly)
- “Vampires Will Never Hurt You”
- “Thank You for the Venom”
- “The World Is Ugly”
- “Famous Last Words”
- “Boy Division”
- “Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na)”
- “The Ghost of You”
- “Vampire Money”
- “Welcome to the Black Parade”
I originally became familiar with MCR as my pre-teen dominates my Apple Music— painting every playlist I have with their work. Although I went to bring my oldest child as a bonding moment, it turned out that I had just as much fun— maybe even more. I am now a proud My Chemical Romance fan. As a Jersey guy myself, I love to see success hailing from this great state.
About the Author/s
Tom is a lifelong New Jersey resident, Rutgers and FDU alumni and the publisher of The Digest.