With the onset of February we are getting a little busier. 2nd, Protest The Hero, 6th Del Amitri, 9th Molly Hatchet, 14th Monster Magnet, 15th Dream Theater, 19th, Sons Of Icarus, 20th Skyclad, 25th Soulfly, 26th Cadillac Three

And maybe a couple more to be added.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

MICHAEL MONROE, Voodoo Sioux, @Slade Rooms, Wolverhampton 3/12/13

The musical world in the late 1980s was a very different place to now.

Back then, there was no internet (for any readers under 30, this is true!) so if you read about a band in Kerrang! or Raw Magazine, they remained mystical. Consequently, when your heroes - in our case mostly groups such as Love/Hate, Poison, Guns N Roses, Warrant and Motley Crüe - mentioned their influences, Hanoi Rocks seemed out of reach.

Then Rocks' former frontman,  Michael Monroe, played Harmonica and Saxophone on  G'n' Rs "Bad Obsession" record and we simply had to check him out.

We had heard tales of excess, hell-raising and great songs from the band many thought were the godfathers of Hair Metal - it turned out they were all true.

This is worth pointing out because  tonight's main support, Voodoo Sioux, probably had the same experience as RTM growing up.

Whether that's the case or not, the  flamboyant foursome certainly take you back to that time, and do so unashamedly, plus the first line of their opening track tonight is "I remember back when I was young."

That it's sung by a bloke in Nikki Flaherty, who is part dressed as a Native American, and part Adam Ant, probably tells you they aren't the most earnest group around but Voodoo certainly cast their spell effectively. Bassist, the fabulously monikered Mario Ermoyenous, attacks his instrument with an enormous smile on his face and you suspect this is the point. The Ramones-esque grooves of what they introduce as their first ever single, with its key line "do you believe in Jesus Christ walking on the water" certainly stick in the head long after they leave.

After our initial teenage infatuation, it was only later we discovered that Hanoi Rocks were European and far from being from outer space, their drummer was born just up the road from where I lived. What never changed, though despite the realisation that rock n roll was normal, was the music was fabulous, and that Monroe solo record we found in the library was  "Not Fakin It" which contains the  supreme piece of sleaze that is Dead Jail And Rock n Roll. He plays it tonight, as last song in the main set and it is still as amazing it was back 20 odd years ago.

Rewind about an hour from "Dead...." and the band take the stage. In typical OTT style, Monroe does so by climbing onto the speaker stack and waving. Stick thin and still caked in make up, the fact he is over 50 now clearly hasn't slowed him down and his performance is one of almost boundless energy.

Monroe is in town to plug new album "Horns And Halos" which essentially takes up from where previous album, 2011's stunning "Sensory Overdrive," left off.

There is one key difference. Ginger Wildheart is no longer on guitar. Dregen of The Backyard Babies plays on the album, but not this tour, so Rich Jones (Yo-Yo's, Loyalties) joins Hanoi bass man Sam Yaffa and New York Doll Steve Conte.

The first part of the show is almost literally a breakneck run through the golden moments of the last two albums - and there are plenty - "Trick Of The Wrist" and "Ballad of the Lower East Side" not least among them.

Then he moves into Rocks territory, and "Malibu Beach Nightmare" proves what a band they were.

The encore contains a couple of welcome surprises. Monroe reaches back to his Demolition 23 days for the underrated glam punk stomp of "Nothin's Alright" before Eddie And The Hot Rods classic "Do Anything You Wanna Do" gets an outing too.

Monroe is an incredible frontman, shaming those of half his age. He jumps, high-kicks and splits his way though the 80 minutes and still finds time to tell us he's happy to play in venue named after Slade as they were first band he had ever seen live.

Tonight truly was the best of both worlds. There are great new songs but also a chance to watch a  childhood hero. To borrow a line from a song that was played tonight: when I was a kid all I wanted to be was the meanest dude on the meanest machine. Michael Monroe still is. This is rock n roll the way it always seemed to be. Glamorous, a little dangerous, but above all tremendously exciting. 

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