“It’s been a long time Los Angeles. Thank you for being here tonight,” he continues. “We didn’t know if this was ever gonna happen again so we really appreciate you showing up.” He dedicates the show to Lauren Valencia, formerly on their team, who passed away this year after a battle with cancer. As is the MCR way, however, he oscillates between sincere sadness and humour by promising to “punish” the audience with a cavalcade of screamathons from across their four-album career.
The set is a testament to how ahead of their time MCR were; completely misunderstood and misrepresented as just another emo band. Their songs are driven by pop melody, lyrical storytelling and insatiable rhythm, crossing genre and refusing to be boxed in. In 2019 it makes a whole lot more sense than it perhaps did 15 years ago. Case in point: the deliriously pop Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na) generates such a unified response it’s almost hard to hear the band over it. So too with the vaudevillian Mama. But it’s the songs from second album Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge that are met with the most hysteria, alongside an old treat in Our Lady Of Sorrows from the debut – which Gerard introduces as “very stabby”.
“Prepare yourself, motherfuckers,” he says, defiantly comedic and never melancholic for the entire evening. The band are shorn of costume tonight, appearing workmanlike to do battle with a huge portion of their catalogue as Gerard looks gleefully at the crowd, unquestionably elated to be back at the front of his favourite band.
He asks the crowd if tonight is anyone's first MCR show, and the roars tell you it could be the majority. “That’s fucking nuts,” he smiles, while agreeing that MCR are frankly the best.
From the guest appearance by Youth Code’s Sara Taylor on You Know What They Do To Guys Like Us In Prison to the first-ever performance of Make Room!!!!, tonight is a celebration through and through, but also proof that the band still love each other with the sort of infectious adoration that bleeds into and among the audience – even as they scream along amorously to I Don’t Love You. More than love, it’s also pointedly about survival. A full-room recital of Famous Last Words would rouse even the most sceptical attendee.