Remember the zombies from 28 Days Later? The massed screaming horde, mad eyed and thirsty for blood. We’re ten minutes from Gerard Way’s biggest live unveiling yet, and the Reading 2014 crowd are doing a passable impression as they leg it towards the second stage tent the former My Chemical Romance frontman has chosen for his proper solo hello.
Sure, there’s been that industry shindig Stateside, and a tiny warm up in Portsmouth earlier this week, but Reading is an altogether bigger beast. Thousands of people who aren’t only here for the one set, with two songs they’ll maybe know, and an album full of Britpop influences from before many of them were born - there’s no doubt that this is the big roll of the dice.
But then this is Gerard bloody Way. He’s dodged the bottles of piss before on the way to triumphantly headlining the main stage. He’s one of Reading’s own. This may be a bear pit, but it’s one full of his people; acolytes who fought the tabloids on the bloodied beaches of emo. The screams say it all. There’s no way this is going badly.
“There’s so many of you here. I fucking love you,” he beams. It’s a set filled with impassioned statements. Opening with ‘Bureau’, a good portion of that aforementioned album gets an airing. Ending with a dial-tone to ‘Action Cat’, those two singles that have broken cover (the other, ‘No Shows’ comes later) show that eventually Gerard Way live will do everything his former charges achieved and more. “I appreciate these are a bunch of songs you’ve never heard before,” he sympathises. As it is, even without the familiarity, he can still mix it.
‘Zero Zero’ has hairs on its chest already. ‘Millions’ sounds positively anthemic. ‘Drugstore Perfume’ and ‘Get The Gang Together’ show exactly what Way meant when he was name checking mid-90s British guitar pop. Finishing with a cover of The Jesus and Mary Chain’s ‘Snakedriver’, it’s hard to imagine Gerard and his ‘Hesitant Alien’ won’t be spending more than a little time this side of the pond. “I’m never going to forget this,” he admits. “We’re going to be here a lot, so we’ll be seeing you plenty more.”
Gerard Way played:
Get The Gang Together
Photos: Sarah Louise Bennett / Emma Swann