More than two years after the band announced its return, and nearly a decade after members parted ways citing creative differences and desires to pursue new endeavors, My Chemical Romance finally brought the black parade to Denver. And while fans deliberated whether or not to hold onto tickets for many of the tours that were postponed due to COVID, the two-year delay only served to build anticipation among the band’s fanbase — and the crowd’s excitement was at its zenith Friday night when the band marched a sold-out Ball Arena through a setlist that delivered on every hope the crowd had for what the emo icons would deliver.
As thunder clouds rolled over Denver, weeping their drizzles of rain on the city as a parade of black T-shirts swarmed Ball Arena, darting across sidewalks to find the end of whatever line might grant them the fastest entry to the venue once doors eventually opened. And once the gates opened, a flood of black streamed through the doors, quickly congesting the halls of the arena.
By the time the opening act took their place on stage, the arena had already filled to half capacity. And the pterodactyl screech of Youth Code‘s vocalist ripped its way out of the speakers, tearing through the crowd as pulsing bass reverberated through the halls while concert-goers snaked through long lines in search of souvenir merchandise or beer.
And once Ball Arena was filled to its capacity, pop-punk icons Taking Back Sunday succeeded in the massive undertaking of warming up approximately 20,000 devoted emos. Frontman Adam Lazzara took command of the arena, instantly rallying the crowd with an explosive opening that saw the band play a fan favorite, “What’s It Feel Like to Be a Ghost?” while Lazzara screamed along with the crowd, swinging his microphone wildly by its cord.
Tearing through hits like “A Decade Under the Influence” and “Cute Without The ‘E’ (Cut From The Team),” Taking Back Sunday took time to remind the crowd what they were all there for: My Chemical Romance. “We’re here! You’re here! We made it!” Lazzara yelled to the crowd between tracks, unrelenting in his energy as he proclaimed his love for the Mile High before finishing the set with “MakeDamnSure,” which saw the audience belting out the words alongside the band.
When the lights finally dimmed for the final time, the distortion of the speakers and subtle strobing lights kept fans captive, wondering when My Chemical Romance would emerge from behind the red backdrop. With the night’s anticipation at its zenith, a chant of “MCR!” emerged and quickly filled the arena, only to fade into indistinguishable cheers as the audience’s excitement bubbled over.
And when My Chemical Romance waltzed onto the stage with an air of confidence and energy that exuded the exhilaration they were about to unleash upon the audience, the band beat back their fans’ screams with a sonic wave that eased the crowd into the set with the band’s only single release since their reunion, “The Foundations of Decay.” But before fans had finished processing that the moment they’d been waiting for was finally actually happening, frontman Gerard Way commanded the band onward. The rapid-fire pacing of “House of Wolves” sent a shockwave through Ball Arena, whipping the crowd into a fevered delirium.
The audience would have been satisfied with the frenzy of the rest of the tracklist, which raced through the songs everyone hoped to hear — including “I’m Not Okay (I Promise),” “Welcome to The Black Parade” and “Teenagers.” But Way’s charming presence kept fans hanging on his every word. And in return, the charismatic frontman enamored himself with the audience. “This is a best-case scenario crowd, my friends,” Way smiled. “The chef approves.”
Guaranteeing concertgoers got the experience they had hoped for, Gerard pushed his vocal range, and his lung capacity, to delight fans with the different vocals on record. Joking briefly about the difficulties of performing at elevation, Way’s breathlessness hardly seemed to impact his (or anyone else in the band’s) exuberance for being on stage. Stomping forcefully as he took command of Ball Arena, Way matched the intensity of the audience.
The energy of the band and the audience fed off of each other, while the frontman conducted the orchestra in the pit, which became a sea of clapping hands that vibrated with the bass reverberating through the venue. Despite a thunderous volume that normally would serve only to distort the music, the earthshaking soundwaves escaping the speakers proved only barely loud enough to cover the chorus of fans in the crowd.
After ending their set with “Helena,” all that was left was for My Chemical Romance to return to the stage for its finale — a double-feature that saw the band dig deep into its discography before bidding Denver one final so long and goodnight.
All photography by Brandon Johnson.
Editors Note: A previous edition of this article incorrectly named James O’Callaghan as the frontman and vocalist of Taking Back Sunday.