My Chemical Romance concluded their World Contamination Tour of North America in Las Vegas before a sold-out crowd at the House of Blues. The killjoy inspired fashion of their fans hinted at the evolution of the band’s music since becoming emo icons in 2002. The first signs were embedded on their 2006 rock opera The Black Parade where T. Rex inspired guitar riffs on songs like ‘Teenagers’ added a fuzzy glam to the darker gothic tones of the band’s earliest work. With 2010’s Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys, the band took a risky artistic leap forward with a focused rock and roll sound that embraces everything from punk to arena rock. Delivering on the promise of the new album, My Chemical Romance tore into ‘Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na)’ with a vengeance and played an unrelenting set that was leaner and meaner than anybody might expect. The audience began jumping and singing with the first line and Gerard Way had several thousand voices joining him the entire night. The adoring audience erupted with each teenage anthem from ‘Welcome To the Black Parade’ to ‘Helena’ while older songs like ‘Vampires Will Never Hurt You’ were received with almost as much enthusiasm. The songs from the latest album best fit the band’s new aesthetic and the stadium worthy ‘Sing’ sounded huge in the confines of the small club. Perhaps no song reflects the band’s streamlined rock and roll sound as well as ‘Summertime’, one of the strongest tracks on Danger Days. The song offers up a taste of what classic rock and roll will sound like on the radio in 20 years and needed no theatrics to get its message across. The decade of growth in the studio and on stage has produced a tight rock and roll outfit ready to inject modern music with some fun and energy. The Las Vegas concert was everything a fan of the band or just a fan of rock and roll could hope for. Opening act The Architects played straight up punk that sounded so good, members of My Chemical Romance started joining them on stage to jam. It looked like it might be a perfect night of music. Almost. In between the two bands, Circa Survive played one of the worst sets I’ve ever seen live. Thankfully, My Chemical Romance took all of three seconds to erase the pain and start kicking ass.
Elvis Costello & The Imposters’ Revolver Tour featuring the Spectacular Spinning Songbook arrived at The Palms in Las Vegas sans their spinning wheel. A Friday the 13th in Las Vegas was more than enough novelty though and Costello tore through a versatile and eclectic set list. Ripping into ‘I Hope You’re Happy Now’ and ‘Heart Of the City’ to open the night, Costello’s punk spirit sounded intact and no less alive than when he first arrived on record in 1977. Without the spinning wheel, the band kept the focus on his endless songbook from the classic ‘Everyday I Write The Book’ to ‘A Slow Drag With Josephine’, an acoustic gem from 2010’s National Ransom which could have easily been mistaken for a lost classic from Tin Pan Alley in 1921. Costello worked his way through an exquisite collection of vintage guitars while The Imposters brought new life to even the most heard Costello classics. The crowd returned the energy and stayed on their feet most of the night as Costello roamed the front of the stage engaging them with his guitar licks as the sweet swirl of the Hammond B organ filled the theater. Returning to stage later in the night, and always the showman, Costello lamented the missing spinning wheel but joked there’s an app for that. On cue, an i-Pad appeared on stage with a camera trained on its screen as his attractive assistant brought a medley of women on stage to spin the little computer program. I Can Sing A Rainbow was chosen and the band obliged with color songs ‘Greenshirt’, ‘Red Shoes’, and a joyful sing along on Prince’s ‘Purple Rain’ while the women danced happily around Costello. Closing with the favorites ‘Alison’, ‘Pump It Up’, and ‘Peace Love & Understanding’, the atmosphere felt like a party as a few more fans took the stage to dance and sing. One of the finest songwriters to ever play rock and roll, a deep set list, and a spirit of adventure turned the concert into an inspiring celebration of music for both the band and the audience.