We like to challenge the norm here at The Alt Entertainer, and that’s why we’ve not just had one of our music fanatic journalists cover this gig, but two; Neil den Baker and Georgi Gray. Here’s what they both had to say about the Gerard Way and No Devotion gig in Brixton.
What Georgi thought:
Like many people in the room, my incentive to see Gerard Way at Brixton Academy was fuelled more by My Chemical Romance-induced nostalgia than an actual fondness of his debut solo album, Hesitant Alien. I arrived not expecting much, and perhaps (a little naively) expecting some sort of reference or flashback to the band.
Greeted with a level of welcome not always seen by support bands that are fairly unknown, No Devotion were bold and actually pretty fantastic. Though it was the first time hearing their music for a lot of people in that room, it was well received by the audience; helped by Geoff Rickley’s confidence as a frontman and constant commanding of the crowd to get them moving. Their powerful and melodic catalogue of music and talent as a live band is unsurprising when considering their background. Comprised of ex-Thursday, Kids in Glass Houses and Lostprophets band members, No Devotion have risen from a background of tragic controversy and break-ups, and have certainly emerged triumphant.
The undersold Brixton Academy may have not been full of people (perhaps another night at the sold out Koko would have been more apt), but the audience more than compensated for it with their enthusiasm and applause when Gerard Way finally graced the stage. Here, he is stripped from the theatricality of Black Parade costumes or superhero masks from the Danger Days era. Fresh faced and well-dressed, his image alone indicates anyone who has seen Gerard Way in the ‘old days’ will be seeing an entirely new person tonight. The music is immensely fun and enjoyable in this live environment, with released singles No Shows and Action Cat in particular being met with fervent movement and chanting from the audience.
However, the majority of the album’s songs were crowd-pleasers under the command of Way’s undeniable charisma. His stage presence is unquestionable, bolder than it was when he was in the band, and he constantly engages with the audience – from bringing a girl on stage to shake the tambourine to emotional declarations about the stigma towards transsexuality and mental illness. The atmosphere was electric with love, with his constant torrents of ‘thank you,’ and ‘I love you’ coming across as authentic and truly well-meant. It is an honest and raw performance, as if finally, we are able to truly see who Gerard Way is as a person.
The past of My Chemical Romance’s glory binds why many of the audience are there tonight. It is never mentioned, and as far as my knowledge serves, never has been mentioned at a Gerard Way set. Rightly so, perhaps, as the reaction to Hesitant Alien that night proves it is not just love from his past that brings people to his live performances, but genuine enjoyment from seeing a well-executed album being performed so well live.
Would I see Gerard Way again? Definitely. However, now it wouldn’t be to just relive some long-lost teenage memories. It would be because Gerard Way is a truly remarkable performer capable of bringing Hesitant Alien to life and making it inevitably enjoyable for both die-hard fans and strangers alike.
What Neil thought:
Being from South Africa and only moving to the UK 7 months ago, the amount of bands playing here has both blown my mind and punished my wallet. The UK is spoilt for choice when it comes to music, and it shocks me that bands who would have sold out in South Africa, play tiny venues here.
I’ve been a fan of My Chemical Romance since my emo days back in 2008, and it was their incredible lyrics written by Gerard Way that caught my attention. So when the opportunity to see Gerard play live in London arose, I jumped at the chance.
The queue outside the famous Brixton Academy stretched around the venue, with young and old fans waiting to get inside to watch Gerard. They stood in the freezing cold weather, many dressed in black, to spark the ‘Black Parade’ days. I waited in the line which seemed to be moving pretty quickly. Once inside, the venue was shiny and musical, and I could tell that many legendary bands had played in this very Academy.
Once I got in I made my way through hundreds of fans and tried to secure a good spot. The first band to take the stage were No Devotion. Many, including myself, were unaware of what they would sound like, however they fitted in perfectly to the Gerard Way vibe and really wet the appetite of the fans for the main course. Their stage presence was specular and the energy on ’10,000 Summers’ made me really miss summer. I’m glad I got introduced to No Devotion and I look forward to seeing what the future holds for these guys.
Then it was time for Gerard Way. The lights went dark, and many anxiously waited for Gerard to hit the stage. His band ran on stage and Gerard followed shortly to the screams of excited fans! He hit the stage running, starting the show off with a brand new song called Cheap Lights which seemed to have gone down really well with the fans.
Halfway through his set, he played Brother which has to be my favourite song off his debut album tilted Hesitant Alien and he performed it to perfection. He still had that My Chemical Romance energy and owned the stage with his charisma and charm! He ended the show with No Show, which he recently shot the music video for. He quickly said, “Thank you!” and exited stage right, but fans wanted more. With the lights still dark and the atmosphere still on high, the fans began to chant “We want more, we want more!”
As Gerard stepped onto the stage for an encore, the fans were nothing short of pleased. He performed Action Cat, which has to be my second favourite song off of the album. The lyrics ‘Do you miss me? Cause I miss you!’ really hit home for me, and I thought about all my friends and family back in South Africa, and if they thought about me from time to time.
Gerard was extremely humble and before playing his final song, he thanked all the fans, his record label and all the people that have stuck with him from the beginning. After the show the lights switched on and security asked us to make our way to the exits. I made my way to the door with other satisfied fans. To the left of the Academy stood many fans hoping to meet the legend himself. Being a fan of Gerard and all the work he has done, I decided to wait too.
The line was unbelievably long and security insisted that he was not coming out and that we were wasting our time. A fan told me that on Gerard’s social media he wrote ‘I always try and give a heads up as early as possible but it won’t be possible to sign tonight. Thank you so much for coming to the show!‘.
Another fan informed me, that he was set to play in Amsterdam in less than 24 hours and that he needed to catch a plane immediately after the show. Regardless we waited outside, and as time went on and with security reassuring us he was not coming out, the line grew shorter as many had to catch the last train home. I waited for about an hour and a half before agreeing that it was too cold, and that he wasn’t going to come out.
Regardless of meeting him or not, I’m still very pleased I got to watch him perform live and that his music lives on even after the death of My Chemical Romance! All in all, it was an amazing night, and I can’t wait to see what comes next from the genius which is Gerard Way.