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Live review: My Chemical Romance are goth-punks on a mission

May 29, 2011 |  8:32 pm

Power and fragility intertwine in the music of My Chemical Romance, the flamboyant goth-punk outfit that played the first of two concerts at the Hollywood Palladium on Friday night.

Addressing a capacity crowd at the start of the group's 90-minute performance, frontman Gerard Way declared, "We're on a mission from God to kill everybody." Then his bandmates launched into "Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na)," a breakneck fuzz-garage jam in which Way exhorts fans to show him their jazz hands. The fans happily complied.

My Chemical Romance broke out of the emo underground in 2004 with "Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge," which sold more than 1 million copies and set the stage for "The Black Parade," an elaborate 2006 rock opera about cancer, terrorism and slim-fit marching-band suits. That album turned Way into an icon for "the broken, the beaten and the damned" -- as he referred to his following in one song -- but it also saddled the group with the kind of responsibility that can eat away at inspiration.

After recording and scrapping a follow-up that Way described as "very boring," My Chemical Romance last year released "Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys," a sharper, less grandiose effort with as much media-studies sarcasm as self-help reassurance.

Though My Chemical Romance originated in New Jersey, most of the members now live in Los Angeles, a shift that appears to have affected its sensibility.

At the Palladium on Friday, the group embraced its big-hearted misfit vibe in such old hits as "Helena" and "I'm Not Okay (I Promise)," as well as in several cuts from "Danger Days," including "Summertime," an earnest love song that coasted atop candied new wave synths, and "Sing," which recently cropped up on the hit TV series "Glee."

But My Chemical Romance put more muscle into angry new tunes such as "Destroya" -- sample lyric: "I believe we're the enemy" -- and "Na Na Na." And it never seemed to be having more fun than during "Vampire Money," whose title takes aim at the artists who've benefited from appearing on soundtracks from the "Twilight" films.

Betraying what might have been a bit of professional sour grapes, the band later reached back to its 2002 debut for "Vampires Will Never Hurt You," as if to remind its youthful audience that bloodsucking didn't begin with Edward Cullen.

Near the end of Friday's show, before a thundering rendition of the latest album's "Bulletproof Heart," Way unloaded another of his gnomic pronouncements: "No matter what you do, never stop running." He seemed to be setting us up for his big Bruce Springsteen moment, especially once the song's glimmering arena-rock power chords kicked in.

But Way had other things on his mind. "You stop your preaching right there," he sang, perhaps to himself, "'cause I really don't care."


Live review: James Blake at the Troubadour

Live review: Rammstein at the Forum

Summer concert preview: A selective list of the season's must-see shows

 -- Mikael Wood

Photos: Frontman Gerard Way leads the band at the Hollywood Palladium (top); guitarist Ray Toro takes center stage (second); and youthful fans soak in the performance (last). Credit: Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times.