michael monroe live
Date: 11 April 2011
Location: Waterfront, Norwich, UK
With: Voodoo Six, New York Alcoholic Anxiety Attack
The handful of early arrivals inside The Waterfront for NYAAA were somewhat bemused by the trio onstage and their dark psychedelic garage rock failed to make much of an impression. The band is strangely compelling though and in a different setting their T-Rex meets Joy Division in an eighties goth club stylistic car crash could appeal in a vaguely masochistic way.
Far more palatable and predictable, the ever improving Voodoo Six showed why some are touting them as yet another next big thing. Cut from the same vintage rock mould as The Answer, the Voodoo boys are an impressively tight live act, channelling classic Led Zep and UFO into molten modern rock. With some fine tuning of their stagecraft and a huge chorus or two, they could be a band going places.
If Voodoo Six are going places, chances are Michael Monroe has already been there and got the strategically ripped T-Shirt. When the former Hanoi Rocks frontman assembles a rhythm section of his former bandmate Sam Yaffa on bass and ex-Danzig drummer Karl Rockfist and then adds a Wildheart and a New York Doll on guitars (Ginger and Steve Conte respectively), you just know you’re in for a night of proper rock n’roll excess. And so it proved.
After some thirty years in the game, Monroe is healthier, skinnier and prettier than ever, providing a masterclass in the art of rock showmanship and throwing himself around the stage with the reckless abandon of a hyperactive teenager. When not perched on a monitor or climbing the PA system, he is blowing hard on a harmonica or saxophone, clearly loving every minute.
With his latest album Sensory Overdrive having re-established his public profile at a higher level that it has been for a good few years, there’s no surprise that songs from the album feature strongly in the set. From celebratory opener Trick of the Wrist to the sing-along 78, it’s crystal clear this is no exercise in retro indulgence.
That said, with such a back catalogue to draw on, it’s a pleasure to hear some gems from the underrated Demolition 23 album with Hammersmith Palais being especially potent and Monroe wouldn’t get out alive without dipping into his Hanoi glory days for Motorvatin’ and Back to Mystery City.
Except for a brief excursion into Geordie in Wonderland, the hand-picked band is content to play an effortlessly cool supporting role, but Ginger in particular exerts a quiet yet powerful influence with his marvellous vocal harmonies ensuring that even the most simplistic sleazy rock songs have a modern cutting edge.
Let’s just hope this line-up stays together and the album / tour isn’t a one off, because as of now, Mr Monroe is better than he’s ever been.
by Steven Hargraves