at O2 Academy 2, Newcastle, U.K., April 13, 2011

When Hanoi Rocks hung up their chiffon scarves and glitter jackets for the last time, the loss of one of Rock’s great live bands was at least tempered by the fact they went out with a bang rather than a whimper. Their final album, Street Poetry, was one of the best of their illustrious career and ensured they ended on a star-spangled high.

Flamboyant frontman, Michael Monroe, wasted little time in moving on and quickly put together an intoxicating band featuring original Hanoi Rocks bassist Sami Yaffa, guitarists ex-New York Doll Steve Conte and Ginger from the Wildhearts, and Danzig’s Karl Rosqvist on drums.

Michael MonroeShunning the Glam trappings of Hanoi Rocks, this is a much darker, harder-edged, leather clad Rock’n’Roll beast and any doubts about their pedigree were literally blown away on a hugely successful support slot with Motorhead last year where Monroe and Co. upstaged the headliners night after night.

With a new album, Sensory Overdrive, released a matter of weeks ago and already promising to be one of the top albums of 2011, Monroe lined up a series of headlining gigs to show off his new band in their full glory, in front of their own fans.

Featuring no less than seven songs from his latest album, including the opening maelstrom of “Trick Of The Wrist”, the chest-thumping Punk anthem “78” and the glorious Power Pop-soaked “Superpowered Superfly” all shone brightly in a set choc full of classics. It’s a testament to the sheer quality of Sensory Overdrive that the new material nestled so comfortably alongside the likes of “Malibu Beach”, “Nothing’s Alright”, and the storming “Dead, Jail And Rock ‘n’ Roll”. How many gigs have you been to when the new material is met with a shrug of the shoulders and a glance at the watch waiting for familiar material to arrive? There was absolutely no fear of that here as the tracks were welcomed like long lost friends.

Michael MonroeMonroe was in unstoppable form — a whirlwind of pure Rock’n’Roll energy, never stopping for a breath. If there was a space, he’d jump in it… if there was something to climb on, you’d bet your bottom dollar that he’d be there too. The stage was simply not big enough for him, so one minute he’d be balanced on top of the crash barriers, then sliding along the balcony out into the middle of the crowd making sure those at the very back were fully included in the show, and that is Monroe’s great strength as a front man.

Monroe’s band looked absolutely fantastic, literally dripping in attitude and delivering a set full of high energy, sweat-fuelled Rock’n’Roll mayhem played with a cocksure swagger. Monroe has obviously made the effort to get the right guys into the band. Ginger provided the thumping rhythm and honey soaked melodies, while Conte reeled off the sleazy riffs and Yaffa and Rosqvist provided the drive behind the band.

Michael MonroeThis may be billed as Michael Monroe, the solo artist, but make no doubt that this is very much a full blown band who performs and interacts as a group rather than a collection of hired guns, and it’s certainly going to be interesting to see how they develop over the coming years if this explosive start is anything to go by.

There was something for everyone with a set featuring highlights across Monroe’s career from Hanoi Rocks to Demolition 23 and his own solo work along with a couple of riotous covers, including closing the show with an impromptu romp through “Blitzkrieg Bop” by The Ramones, complete with Monroe doing damned fine job on the drums to ensure the pace continued until the very last note rang out.

Michael MonroeHanoi Rocks may be no more… but Michael Monroe is back, fighting fit with a great album and an incredible band raring to go. Following a performance like this, you can be sure that there’ll be a lot more to come in the future.


  • 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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