Hesitant Alien is the album that marks the first step in Gerard Way’s (ex-My Chemical Romance lead singer) solo career. Performing solo for the first time since the split of MCR, Gerard dominated the stage at the UK’s Reading & Leeds Festival. Ever since, fans all over the globe have been itching to see the front man as the only man. Not too much later, Gerard Way released dates for a US headlining tour, hitting major US cities, on top of a UK tour later on in the year. You can only imagine how thrilling the atmosphere was in Gerard Way’s home of New Jersey when he performed at the Starland Ballroom on a rainy Wednesday night.
The quaint intimacy of the Starland Ballroom gave this homecoming tour date a warm and friendly feeling from the second you walked in. As the opening band, The Eeries, took the stage, their incredible talents and fervent likability prepared the audience for an unforgettable night. These showstoppers took my friend and I by complete surprise. The band’s peppy punk rock style blasted through the Ballroom and it didn’t take long before the crowd got rowdy during their extremely fun set. The second the leading singer Isaiah Silva walked on stage he immediately captured the audience’s attention with his witty comments and laughs. Once they began to play, it was clear they were there to have a good time. As silly as it sounds, I couldn’t help but describe them as a “happy Nirvana”. The grungy style of their music is infused with energy and cool synth effects, evoking tons of movement within the crowd. Songs like “Love You To Pieces” and “Cool Kid” kept solid clapping rhythm to involve the crowd as crashing guitar riffs intensified the excitement. The unity of the band was a highlight as well; every few minutes they would circle around the drummer and jam out like they were practicing in their garage. Despite the fact that Silva has been suffering from pneumonia during the tour, it didn’t stop him or the rest of the band from putting on an incredible performance. I highly recommend checking out their music, they deserve more attention than they are getting.
Once The Eeries finished out their set, the anticipation of Gerard Way’s entrance was filling the Starland Ballroom. Once the first notes of “The Bureau” played, the crowd went wild as they waited to see Gerard Way. This captivating opener set the perfect mood as Way walked onto the stage. He immediately engulfed himself into the performance, giving lots of eye contact and points into the crowd. The shifting mood from intense to ecstatic began with “Action Cat”. Considering most of Hesitant Alien is full of these fervent and jumpy beats, the tone of the show was extremely lighthearted, and especially friendly for Way, this being his hometown show. He has many moments where he stops and reminisces about being back in Jersey and even calls out his high school girlfriend who was at the show. Another entertaining aspect to the performance was how danceable all the songs are. Once “Juarez” reached its chorus, the crowd exploded with jumps and energy.
However, Way knows how to slow it down as well. After talking to the audience about how “Drugstore Perfume” is about wanting to get out and explore the world, it puts the listeners in his perspective as they listen closely and intensely to the romantic sound. Gerard Way then covers James Cecil’s “The Water Is Wide” acapella, leaving the crowd speechless. You could hear a pin drop. Way’s iconic speeches on top of his quirky personality are a crucial part to his performances and distinctly highlight on this tour. My favorite moment was when he encouraged girls to be tough in the world and always aspire to be great. Then he called up a girl wearing his matching suit to play the tambourine to “Get The Gang Together”, another spirit lifter. He also gives a heartfelt shout out to the bravery of transgender people and those with mental illnesses when he introduces “Maya The Psychic”, a song about a therapist. He then pulls the crowd together for one last celebration as he closes with his hit “No Shows” and cover of The Jesus and Mary Chain’s “Snakedriver” before coming on stage for a marvelous encore of Sleater-Kinney’s “I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone”.
Although the younger audience of Gerard Way’s crowd probably wasn’t too familiar with his covers, he still managed to balance the set list well and provide ample entertainment overall. This tour has proven to be Gerard Way’s successful leap as a solo artist.