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Frank Iero And The Patience / The Homeless Gospel Choir (live at Omeara)

21 October 2017

Frank Iero And The Patience live October 2017On 21 October 2017, I was lucky enough to go see Frank Iero And The Patience at Omeara in south London. I did not arrive in time for the opening band, Paceshifters, unfortunately, but I did make it for the second half of the The Homeless Gospel Choir. I was not aware of this singer before the gig, but I was immediately sucked into an already frenzied crowd.

I quickly picked up on the political and religious content of his songs, as he announced each one with “This is a protest song!” He combined humour and politics with a punk twist, and alone on stage with his guitar made everyone feel welcome and a part of something, and safe space for these misfits of society. His last song, “Normal”, was a captivating anthem that everyone could sing along to and relate to, even if they’d never heard it before.

After The Homeless Gospel Choir’s set, the lights went dim and out came Frank Iero. For the crowd, this one man represents so much. He is a hero and an idol to many from a phenomenon of a bandMy Chemical Romance, a band who charmed the hearts of many and still have one of the most loyal and dedicated followings nearly five years after they broke up. Frank combines the idolatry of his former band with his newer group, The Patience, a smaller outfit with just as dedicated fans, old and new, who bring a more intimate setting to this 320-capacity venue than the sold-out arenas of the golden MCR days.

Frank Iero And The Patience live October 2017Omeara has an almost underground feeling, ideal for more intimate concerts, but still with enough space for when all hell breaks loose during the energetic moments. When the band took to the stage, they were a mere few feet away, making the crowd feel like The Patience weren’t unreachable superhumans, but regular people come to share their music with us.

From the get-go, the already wound-up audience surged into action, a tightly packed-in group of teens at the front moving and screaming along as one. The diversity in the crowd was heartwarming, even if there was definitely a type for the fans, and several generations were squeezed in, accepting everyone no matter who you were, with no regards to race, sexuality or gender.

This is one of those bands who brings everyone into the safe space created by the gig. Fans looked out for each other, encouraged by the rules laid down by Frank at the beginning, to help each other if someone is not all right, to get out if you need to get out, to put your hands up and support crowd surfers (of which there were many) and to have a good time. All these rules were well applied, and no one would ever dare ignore Frank Iero at one of his gigs. Frank took the time to talk to the crowd about the songs, interacting with us, bringing into his world a little when talking about his daughter Lilly, from whom he had to get permission to play her song “BFF”.

A perfectly chosen setlist with occasional intervals made by Frank kept the energy in the room just right, a swell of enthusiasm rising with each number, the dedicated fans screaming along all the way. A variety of songs were played from both Parachutes and Stomachaches, as well as The Patience’s new Keep The Coffins Coming EP, a cover of “Helter Skelter” by The Beatles and David Bowie‘s “It Ain’t Easy”. “World Destroyer” opened the set, a haunted fast song immediately engaging the crowd into the riffs and screaming, an anthem for those trying to break free. The appropriate lyrics “Can somebody tell me if this is really happening?” were exactly the words going through my mind, though in a different context to that of the song.

Frank Iero And The Patience live October 2017Half way through the set, I recognized one of my favourite songs “Stitches”, which I was sure they weren’t going to play as it is an older number. I could hardly contain my delight that I found in this song, which pulled me through hard times, along with another one played earlier on, “Weighted”, with one of the best lyrics of recent times, in my opinion: “So let’s laugh, let’s laugh, let’s learn to laugh at ourselves again”, a call to this struggling generation to find the humour and lack of seriousness to get us through the scary world we live in. This entire gig encompassed this feeling, creating a space to let go of norms and expectations in a liberation of emotions shared with a big bunch of like-minded people.

“Joyriding” and “Oceans” closed the show perfectly, a last scream of release for the fans and the end of the tour, an older and a newer song contrasted, the speed of “Joyriding” sliding into the veritable waves of “Oceans”, which Frank once compared to the sea of love and support flowing between the band and the fans after a terrifying bus crash last year. This ocean is still very real, the emotions and experience shared between the band and the crowd remains ever-present.

This was definitely my favourite concert I’ve attended so far, a chance for me to see my idols in a smaller setting, where there wasn’t a completely unbreachable gap between artist and fan. The gig had the craziness of punk, but with a safeness — this wasn’t a gig where you were going to get beaten up, but was still a momentary rebellion against everyday life. After two hours of waiting in the cold afterwards, Frank did take time to do a bit of signing with the most dedicated fans who braved the wind in hopes of a chance of meeting a hero.

Thank you, Frank Iero And The Patience for a gig I’ll never forget, and giving me something so special.

-Frankie Harmonia-

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