Michael Monroe: Live Review
By Alison Cohen
March 14th 2010, Brixton South Bay, Redondo Beach CA: About two months ago I was sitting alone at my computer when I received an email about Michael Monroe and Ginger Wildheart playing TOGETHER at the Brixton in Redondo Beach. (Thanks Julian!) I couldn't believe my eyes! I went all the way to the Tavistia Club in Finland to see Michael Monroe play one of the farewell shows thinking it was my only chance to ever see Hanoi Rocks. It was, but it wasn't my only chance to see Michael Monroe.
Since the 'Official Hanoi Rocks break-up' and the eight farewell shows last April, the legendary Michael Monroe has formed a new band with a killer line-up. The band consists of guitarists Ginger (The Wildhearts) and Todd Youth, (Chelsea Smiles) original Hanoi Rocks/Demolition 23 bass player Sami Yaffa, and drummer Jimmy Clark . However, Todd and Jimmy weren't playing with Monroe at the Brixton. Instead we had Steve Conte (New York Dolls) on guitar and Karl Rockfist (Chelsea Smiles) on drums.
Monroe is touring the U.S. for the first time in many, many years and has nine shows scheduled between the West Coast and SXSW in Austin. From there, the band will finish up the tour in Europe, and then head into the studio to record a new album, due out this Fall.
After waiting for two long months, the day of the show finally arrived. The Brixton was packed, and a bunch of 'Hollywood People' even made it out. Since Michael Monroe hasn't played the U.S. in so long, many (probably most) fans were seeing him for the first time.
Swedish rockers Vains of Jenna opened the show and got us pumped and ready. They played a variety of VOJ songs, and cover songs 'Refugee' (Tom Petty) and 'Red House' (Jimi Hendrix). As it turns out, this was actually their last show with singer Lizzy DeVine. When their set ended, we anxiously waited for Michael Monroe to hit the stage. I had no idea what to expect. I was thinking they would play some new songs, Hanoi songs, and maybe a few Wildhearts songs.
Michael Monroe and the boys exploded onto the stage starting the show with 'Nothin's Alright' from Monroe's 1995 Demolition 23 release. Monroe oozed with energy and showmanship, as he ran from side to side of the stage, kicked, jumped, hi-fived fans and even did the splits. I was literally right in front of the stage, and couldn't believe I was this close to the one and only Mr. Michael Monroe. He truly pours his heart and soul into every word he sings, and every note he plays on harmonica or saxophone. He played the harmonica throughout the night, and started on the sax towards the end of the set. He is so flamboyant, and has such a charismatic, fun and personable stage presence; you can't help but fall in love with him.
Michael Monroe took a moment to remind us that the tragic and unfortunate death of their original drummer Razzle took place in Redondo Beach, and that this night was dedicated to his memory. He also asked that we remember him as fun and think of lights when we think of him. He would have wanted it this way.
Michael Monroe played a bunch of new songs, mixed in with classic Hanoi songs, some solo stuff, and a couple surprise cover songs. (No Wildhearts songs though.) After 'Nothin's Alright,' the band continued strong with Hanoi Rocks classic 'Motorvatin,' and then back to another Demolition 23 song 'Hammersmith Palais.' The first of the new songs was titled 'You're Next.' It was so exciting to see their new songs performed live for the first time, and they all ROCKED! Every song was fun, full of energy, guitar riffs, kicks and sweat.
The band played the title track from Monroe's first U.S. solo release in 1989, 'Not Fakin' It' and then it was on to Demolition 23's 'Dysfunctional,' and Johnny Thunders 'I Wanna be Loved' (which Michael used to play with Demolition 23).
As Monroe sang 'Boulevard of Broken Dreams,' he made all of our dreams come true, just by being there. He dedicated a new song to Motorhead, which was titled 'Motorheaded for a Fall.' It seemed to have a positive message about slowing down before it's too late.
The crowd went crazy when they played three back-to-back Hanoi songs; 'Back to Mystery City,' 'Tragedy' and 'Malibu Beach.' Monroe pulled out his sax for the first time of the night and worked his magic for 'Malibu Beach.' After 'Beach,' Monroe introduced the band, and we all gave praise to the talented musicians onstage.
Their set ended with a bang. As they ripped through 'Dead, Jail, Rock and Roll' from Monroe's 'Not Fakin' It' CD, the flashy frontman jumped off the stage, ran through the crowd, stood on a table and belted out the song while surrounded by fans. He flew back to the stage and finished the song before making an exit. But it wasn't really the end.
They came back with an amazing surprise. The Dead Boys 'Ain't Nothin' to Do!!!!' Filled with emotion, Monroe dedicated this song to Stiv Baters. When they started to play their biggest hit, 'Taxi Driver' I knew it was close to the end, and worked my way to Ginger's side of the stage to take some pics and show him some love. I totally lucked out, because Monroe jumped off the stage again, parted the crowd and crawled across the bar singing the last song of the night 'I Feel Alright,' and I was right there to experience it.
I am truly thankful for this opportunity and am really excited to see what lies ahead. This is definitely a new beginning for Michael Monroe, and from the new songs that I've heard, he's on the right track. Keep a lookout for Michael Monroe, and what's next to come. I know I will.
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