Some people are just born to perform. They have the confidence, the charisma, the charm and the image. When they enter a room or take to the stage they command your attention. Cue Michael Monroe.
Now Hanoi Rocks may well be a band committed to the history books. But the band’s former frontman is back once again with his band and a critically acclaimed new album.
Tonight the high flying Finn returns to West Yorkshire, for a sold-out show at the Brudenell Social Club. With fans pressed up against the stage mere inches away from the band, this gig is an up-close and personal affair, to say the least.
From the moment the rock legend hits the stage the crowd are in awe as Monroe takes the Leeds audience through a back to back run of tracks from his latest record One Man Gang. This includes the likes of recent single Last Train To Tokyo, Junk Planet along with the title track itself.
However, the venue itself cannot withstand the band’s energetic performance and an unplanned power cut halts proceedings during the sixth song of the set – Ballad of the Lower East Side. Now most artists would freeze here, or awkwardly fumble their way through an attempt at witty stage banter. But Michael Monroe is certainly not ‘Most Artists’.
Have you ever seen the frontman of a band, let alone a rock God take a drum solo? Well, neither had we until tonight. Being the only instrument loud enough to make enough noise without power Monroe took to the kit and commanded an approximately ten-minute drum solo. And when the power still hadn’t resumed he gave an impromptu Saxophone solo until it returned. This being a genius way of turning a difficult situation into a magical moment of the set. But, by his admittance, the band still weren’t going to turn things down – and who could blame them.
For the rest of the show, it was full steam ahead as Monroe and company delivered a high octane set of tracks from both his solo career along with his time in Hanoi Rocks. This includes classics such as 78, Old King’s Road, Don’t You Ever Leave Me and Malibu Beach Nightmare.
Few frontmen can command a crowd like Monroe. He is frequently towering over the audience perched on top of the stage monitors, swinging his mic or wielding it towards his fans for them to sing along. And even in a small club gig like this, he makes a costume change or adjustment with almost every song.
With a treasure chest of accessories within reaching distance, he switches from feathered red top hats to sailors hats, from handheld glow sticks to fans to quell the heat, between harmonicas to saxophones. His stage presence and musical versatility are second to none.
Heading into the final stages of the set Monroe belts through his take on CCR’s Up Around The Bend. This being a track which was frequently covered by Hanoi Rocks back in the day. Before the main set is brought to a close with Dead Jail or Rock & Roll.
But we are not done quite yet, a three-song encore that concludes in Monroe’s cover of The Stooges 1970, brings this legendary night of rock and roll to a close.
When you encounter hot, sweaty and intimate shows like this, it kind of gives you an idea of how iconic venues such as CBBG’s must have felt in their heyday. To see Michael Monroe perform in such an up-close and personal space was a rare treat indeed.