At Legends, Newcastle, U.K., June 3, 2006

HANOI ROCKS (Live at Legends, Newcastle, U.K., June 3, 2006)
Photo: Mick Burgess

On a swelteringly hot early summer night, Legends, a small, stuffy club in the heart of Newcastle played host to the Finnish legends Hanoi Rocks with support from The Imperial Vipers and Mr. Wildheart himself, Ginger.

First up were the Luton Town loving rockers, The Imperial Vipers, who took to the stage at the unearthly hour (for a Saturday night anyway !!) of 7:30 p.m. Unfortunately, things got off to a shaky start with sound problems hampering the vocals and lead guitar. Now lesser bands might have freaked out at this point, but The Imperial Vipers soldiered on admirably until the gremlins had been sorted and proceeded to spit forth a multitude of Punk-inspired Rock ’n’ Roll from their recently released debut album Searching: Falling: Silence.

The Imperial Vipers strike quite an imposing figure with stage left, Wevs, the granite hewn, dreadlocked riffmaster, while vocalist Ash leaps and climbs and covers every inch of the sweat-soaked stage, while belting out such glorious anthems as “Kick a Hole” and “Mercury Rising,” coming across like the bastard offspring of The Who and The Clash. A particularly fiery version of the MC5 classic “Ramblin’ Rose” rubs shoulders with the “Streets of California” and the dark brooding riffery of “Promised Land.”

Just as the punters were starting to roll into the venue, the all too short set came to end with a riotous romp through the recent single “Jewels.”

With a promising debut album and a “tour hard everywhere” work ethic, it will only be a matter of time before The Imperial Vipers move onto bigger things.

After the electrifying show by The Imperial Vipers, came Ginger, playing on his home turf. Rather than play the more up-tempo rocking material that he’s known for in The Wildhearts, he opted for an acoustic show, presenting himself along with a second guitarist and a female backing singer.

Whether or not playing an acoustic-based set was a good idea on a support slot, Ginger nevertheless threw himself enthusiastically into the show, playing reworked Wildhearts crowd pleasers such as “Geordie in Wonderland” and “Top of the World,” as well as some of his new solo material. Throughout, Ginger casually bantered with the crowd as if he was playing to a bunch of his mates, and the crowd responded accordingly.

Ginger upped the ante with the announcement “He’s a fantastic guitar player but he sucks on the drums!” as Hanoi Rocks man Conny Bloom entered the fray as guest drummer on “29 Times A Day,” along with a couple of additional maraca players to give the finale a right old party atmosphere.

A couple of years ago when Hanoi Rocks played the Arena Foyer, they were a shambles, albeit in an entertaining sleazy way, but Michael Monroe was not happy with Andy McCoy’s antics. Their show the following year was explosive, energetic, and exciting — everything that Rock ‘n’ Roll should be. McCoy even apologized for his behavior the previous year. Maybe it’s the unpredictability that makes Hanoi Rocks still such an exciting proposition. The big question is, how would they be tonight?

Kicking off with a “Mr Crowley”-esque intro tune before launching into “Boulevard of Broken Dreams,” it was clear that Hanoi Rocks were firing on all cylinders. Right from the start, Michael Monroe meant business as he cavorted and barged his way around the stage, attacking his mic stand as if his life depends on it. He kicked and leaped around in a way only Diamond Dave could dream about these days. Monroe covered every inch of the stage … and the speakers … and the crash barriers, he even hung from the roof as if he’s some kind of hyperactive monkey! He had more outfit changes than Posh Spice, but was as enigmatic as ever, and in-between high kicks and pirouettes, he managed to deliver some fine rasping saxophone and blasts of harmonica … but not all at the same time!

As his foil, Andy McCoy, the pirate vagabond, with his guitar slung way down low, churning out sleazy riff after riff and staggering and lurching across the stage in true Keith Richards fashion, is Rock ‘n’ Roll personified.

Hanoi Rocks were on fine form tonight, playing a potent brew of old (“Underground,” “I Can’t Get It,” “Don’t You Ever Leave Me”) and current material from their rather splendid new release, Another Hostile Take Over, with “Back In Yer Face” being particularly ferocious.

Perhaps one of the reasons why Hanoi Rocks are performing in a more cohesive manner is down to new boy, ex- Electric Boys frontman, Conny Bloom. More content to take a back seat than in his previous band, Bloom nevertheless provides the solid backbone that enables Monroe and McCoy to take centre stage, and in Bloom they have a winner.

Closing the show on a high note with sure fire winners “Malibu Beach” and the old Creedence Clearwater Revival chestnut “Up Around The Bend,” the band exited the stage, leaving the rabid Geordie crowd begging for more. The band duly obliged with McCoy berating Monroe’s late entrance by slurring ”Where is the blond tart?” before Monroe leapt forward, swinging his microphone lead around his neck and launching into “Underwater World.”

All too soon the show was over and a good time was had by all with three bands, great music, and rattling good value for the money to boot.


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

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