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Frank Iero wasn’t going to let a little something like the cancellation of Soundwave stop him from coming down under this month. Announcing that he and his brother would be playing two free acoustic sets in Sydney and Melbourne this week, fans flocked in hundreds to Sydney’s Utopia Records on Thursday.
Arriving as early as 6am that morning and travelling as far as Brisbane and Canberra, an estimated 600 fans queued to see the former-My Chemical Romance guitarist strut his new stuff. Unfortunately, Utopia wasn’t equipped for such a massive turnout, meaning that hundreds missed out. As soon as the doors opened, the record store was packed to capacity with over 250 fans who created a sea of black t-shirts and a rainbow of raven and multicoloured hair colours.
Welcomed by a wave of tears and ear-piercing screams, the Iero brothers launched into the unplugged set with “All I Want Is Nothing”, the first track off their album Stomachaches. While clearly overwhelmed by the wall-to-wall crowd of frenzied fans wielding their smartphones, Frank thanked everyone for their support. “You can’t do this type of thing if no one cares”, he said with sincere modesty.
My Chem aficionados may be used to Frank thrashing around on the guitar, but the acoustic set revealed a more mellow side as his vocals glided over raw acoustic guitar riffs. His voice has matured over the years, but you could still hear hints of his angst-ridden whine, which fans might remember from Frank’s Pencey Prep days, in tracks such as “Weighted”.
With the help of the crowd on backup vocals, the boys fired through “Tragician”, “The Prettiest Girl” and a stellar cover of The Ramones’ “Rockaway Beach” while surrounded by the relics and records of rock n roll legends that lined the walls. But the highlight of the night had to go to the rendition of “B.F.F” (or Best Friends Forever), a charmingly catchy pop song written by Frank’s daughter Lily.
Throughout the set, Frank chatted with fans about everything from his six dogs to embarrassing lyrical mishaps on stage and the importance of living every moment like it’s your last. “This next song is about feeling like an outcast and realising that you can belong wherever you want,” explained Frank as he introduced “Where Do We Belong? Anywhere But Here”. Beautifully melancholy, this track sounded like it was made for an acoustic cover.
Just because it was an unplugged show, that didn’t mean the boys couldn’t finish with a bang. “This is one of my favourites, but I won’t do it unless you guys sing” Frank said with a wry grin before kicking off the last song of the night, the fiery anthem “Joyriding”.
While the set had ended for the lucky punters inside, Frank announced that he’d now perform a mini-set outside for the hundreds of fans who were still lining the streets. The “awww!” that reverberated off Utopia’s walls following these words was almost deafening.
Finishing off the night with fans lining up for hours to get their CDs, posters and t-shirts signed by the boys, FrankIero and the Cellabrations’ intimate acoustic set was one silver lining to come from the cancellation of Soundwave.