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Michael Monroe - Brudenell Social Club, Leeds 01.11.2019

I’ve seen many great gigs at the Brudenell over the last few years. From Eureka Machines to Monster Magnet, onto Thee Hypnotics and an emotional Ginger Wildheart band show. But tonight’s show from former Hanoi Rocks frontman Michael Monroe takes top billing as the best gig I have seen at my favourite venue.

Michael Monroe and his band are promoting the newly released ‘One Man Gang’ album with a 10 date UK tour. One of the best live bands in the business, this tour is well overdue and it sold out quickly.

Following an opening set from Polish classic rockers CHEMIA, Electric Eel Shock created Japandemonium to an already packed venue. This 3 piece have to be seen to be believed. Many cite them as the greatest live band in the world and it’s easy to see why. Their drummer plays naked apart from a sock on his cock, and he uses four drum sticks for the entire show. Singer/guitarist Akihito and bassist Kazuto incite the gobsmacked crowd to riot over Black Sabbath’s ‘Iron Man’ before ripping into a set of killer garage Rock ‘n’ Roll.

It’s not long before the singer is on the monitors, microphone in one hand, guitar in the other, pointing out at the crowd and smiling like a loon. Joined by fellow nutcase Kazuto, the duo pull all the cool rock poses and make no bones about the fact that they love 80’s Heavy Metal. Crowd interaction and general piss taking are high on the agenda and the likes of ‘So Much 80’s’ and the phenomenal ‘Bastard’ prove they have the songs to match. The tongue in cheek lyricism and high energy, chaotic stage show is a must and its over before you can say sayonara, baby!

How does any band follow a show like that? Well, “hold my beer” says Michael Monroe! Following the familiar spaghetti western intro, The Monroes blast straight into ‘One Man Gang’ the opening song from the new album. The livewire frontman is all over the stage from the word go, a glowstick in one hand and the microphone in the other.

Michael Monroe is 57 years old and bounds about the stage like a teenager on steroids. Avoiding his high kicks and microphone twirls like the pros they are, Sami Yaffa on bass, and the low slung riff monsters that are Steve Conte and Rich Jones. The band whip straight into new single ‘Last Train To Tokyo’ a song that fits the anthemic set like a glove. Many know the words already yet the album has been on the shelves just a few weeks. The following ‘Junk Planet’ is a cool cat of a tune that comes across even better live than it does on record.

The band are truly hitting their stride 6 songs in when the power blows during ‘Ballad Of The Lower East Side’. The band are literally stopped in their tracks, looking at each other with a sort of “WTF do we do now?” The hypermobile frontman knows exactly what to do, he takes to Karl Rockfist’s kit and treats us to a drum workout, while his band head for the bar. Continuing the impromptu entertainment with a sax solo, normal service is resumed and the band fire back up in the exact place they lost power as if nothing happened! That’s pure professionalism for you folks!

While they started with 5 brand new songs, the rest of the set is pretty much choice solo cuts and Hanoi Rocks classics. While he has enough quality solo material to fill a set, we will always expect a Hanoi song or two, right? ‘Don’t You Ever Leave Me’, Malibu Beach’ and ‘Up Around The Bend’ satisfy the old school Hanoi massive and a killer ‘Dead, Jail or Rock ‘n’ Roll’ ends the main set in style.

Remember, the nearly reformed Demolition 23 were the reason this incarnation of Monroe’s solo band exist, and their raw Punk and Pop sensibilities are closer to the sound of that band than Hanoi Rocks, so it’s only fitting we get a double dose encore of the classics that are ‘Nothin’s Alright’ and ‘Hammersmith Palais’, they go down a treat. The closing cover of The Stooges ‘I Feel Alright’ takes me right back to teenage viewing of Hanoi’s ‘All Those Wasted Years’ VHS concert, a pure nostalgia trip.

There was never any doubt that this was going to be a great show. This band are at the top of their game, and easily stole gig of the year for me this evening. Hands up who’d like a double header tour with The Wildhearts in 2020 then?

Photos - Neil Vary Gig Photography

Review - Ben Hughes

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