Last week we had Ben reviewing one of the early shows on this tour and by all accounts another memorable night in the company of one of music most exceptional performers. Catching the tail end of the tour there were no plans to run a review but when we have bands this good it seems only right we should cover them as much as possible. Damn this band should be playing bloody arenas and be a household name but we know the world doesn’t work like that. for now, the people who get rewarded are the ones who just know, right? right!

Tonight the Fleece is very busy which is always a good sign, the last time this band played here in Bristol was aboard the good ship Thekla and the attendance wasn’t great. Tonight, with a brand new album in tow it was already looking promising as the room was busy for the opening band – Mother Vulture. They took the stage but quickly they weren’t my cup of tea at all, from the soaring vocals to the new wave of classic rock schtick of the band’s repertoire it’s just not what I listen to but there are plenty of satisfied punters digging their thing.

Next up Electric Eel Shock. A three-man ’80s cock rock assault on the senses, sure it’s bordering on the Barron Nights comedy but these guys do have a song in the shape of ‘Bastard’ that is so ’80s it’s wearing its own spandex and coughs up its own hairnet hairspray can.  They throw in enough shapes to make a Whitesnake tribute band blush and Don Dokken’s hair would fall out (again) if he were to follow these guys on stage.  But they have the audience smiling and wearing a Hanoi Rocks t-shirt is always going to go down well. Job Done I guess they have fun paying their dues and the audience goes along with them. 

Now, the reason we’re all here. Michael Monroe band, strap in, its time to Rock Like Fuck! After hearing many reports of how good the band has been on the tour so far and with only three shows left on the tour surely this one was going to be off the scale with the Fleece being such a good venue even with the pillars running through the venue it’s steeped in Rock and Roll. (even if they make their bread and butter off bloody tribute bands but if that means that nights like tonight and bands like The Monroes can tour and play then even I’ll turn a blind eye).

With ‘One Man Gang’ on heavy rotation the albums growing in stature on every play,  it’s a breath of fresh air to hear the band blast off with the opening five songs all taken from the new record! A bold move for any band but one that gets my approval that’s for sure. From the frantic punky title track to the catchy chorus of ‘Last Train To Tokyo’ to the New York cool of ‘Junk Planet’ this is cooking up to be an exceptional performance. With the band locked in and moving like a cat on a hot tin roof its hard to keep up,  with plenty of smiles on stage it looks like they’re having an absolute ball in this band. Of the songs on the new record to hear them run through ‘In the Tall Grass’ is super cool and such a great song to take on so early on in the set is a supremely confident move from such a great band.

Monroe and Conte make themselves comfortable on the barrier for a nice run through ‘Ballad Of The Lower East Side’ before ripping up ‘Old Kings Road’.  the band were flying through a rapid set that had ’78’ up next before cooling things down with a mellow ‘Black Ties And Red Tape’ (Not)  I’ve seen Monroe many many times live and with many line ups and in many venues all over the UK and I have to say with the exception of Hanoi Rocks classic line up in the mid 80s this is by far the best line up he’s had and the entertainment value is off the scale (it does help having such a strong cannon of songs to pick from for sure) but tonight they are on fire.

Step forward Mr Yaffa as we get the first Hanoi song of the evening as he thumps his way through the intro of the classic ‘Motorvatin’. Always wearing some splendid headwear and playing his bass with such style and having a Perma-smile its such a pleasure to be in the company of such talent. We get another new one in the shape of ‘Hollywood Paranoia’  before we head into the home straight as another thumping rendition of ‘This Aint No Love Song’.

I could have stayed all night listening to new songs or solo material played with an energy most bands could only dream of achieving but its also always nice to hear that Saxophone and a couple of Hanoi rocks tunes so things do slow down for a minute or two as ‘Don’t You Ever Leave Me’ makes way for ‘Malibu Beach’ before they hit the cover that the band took ownership of on the ‘Two Steps’ album ‘Up Around the Bend’ sees people lose their shit as the kids say and there are going to be some saw heads come the morning. The main set is wrapped up with a pulsating ‘Dead, Jail Or Rock and Roll’.

Play Vi

I’m still scratching my head as to how fuckin’ good this show was and how the hell this band isn’t playing venue ten times this size. I will console myself in the fact that if the world won’t listen then that’s their loss and you can only lead a horse to water and all that. The night wasn’t quite done yet as we had the pair of tunes from Demolition 23  and ‘Nothing’s Alright’ followed by the high kicks that go with ‘Hammersmith Palais’ which only left a blistering duelling rendition of the Stooges classic ‘I Feel Alright’ and then they were finally done. Until the next time that is and the sooner the better.  If you get the chance to see this band then take it they have a superb new album they’re showing off and its raised the bar for everyone else to follow.
There aren’t many bands who can compete with this one on the kind of form they were on tonight and it’s why going to live shows is still so much fun. Great company, great venue, great band, great songs, great memories and great fun and always a frontman who Rocks Like Fuck! always a pleasure – never a chore.
Author: Dom Daley

It’s been four long years since ‘Blackout States’ was released and four long years since Michael Monroe toured the UK. But The Monroes are back on the road promoting the newly released ‘One Man Gang’ opus, and joining them on this long overdue UK jaunt are Japan’s finest exponents of shock rock ‘n’ roll, Electric Eel Shock. With a date at my favourite venue The Brudenell Social Club on a Friday night, tickets were in the bag quick sharpish. This is a good job as it sold out a few days later.

Polish rockers Chemia are a bluesy-based, classic rock sort of affair. I only caught the last couple of songs of their set, but what I heard was fairly decent. I’m very wary of any band that has a bass player with 5 strings on his instrument and Chemia fit that bill. While they are not really my cup of tea, closer ‘I Love You So Much’ is a decent slice of 80’s rock with a cool catchy chorus and they seem to go down well with the growing crowd.

I’ve witnessed the Electric Eel Shock show before. Many here haven’t, and one of the best moments of this evening’s gig was seeing the reaction to their set around me. As Black Sabbath’s ‘Iron Man’ blasts from the PA, drummer Tomoharu stands on his kit and matches the beat. He is naked apart from a sock dangling from his cock. Either side of him, guitarist Akihito and bassist Kazuto incite the gobsmacked crowd to rock and bow down to the glorious event they are about to behold.
“We are Electric Eel Shock from Japaaan!” shouts Akihito after taking his flying V out of his mouth! Kazuto’s bass is above his head and the drummer is bashing out beats with four sticks. No one knows where to look, there is so much going on.
Electric Eel Shock have been doing this for 25 years and they have it off to a fine art. They sound like Dave Mustaine singing for Quiet Riot and I mean that in a good way. “We love 80’s heavy metaaal!” shouts the diminutive singer before blasting into ‘So Much 80’s”. He pulls off Eddie Van Halen style solos, sticks plectrums to his forehead and tells one liners that match any stand up comedian.
They have some kick ass tunes as well. ‘Bastard’ is one hell of a song live. As the singer points to his bassist and shouts the refrain, then at the crowd and at himself, we all sing along to that gratifying chorus, smiling and laughing in unison.
They played to a full house tonight and I don’t recall ever seeing such a positive response to a support band before. Electric Eel Shock came, they saw and they conquered.

There are not many bands that could follow that performance, and tonight’s headliners happen to be one of the few. As the lights drop and that familiar tribal intro blasts from the PA, the warmed up and sold out Brudenell crowd let out great cheers for Michael Monroe’s long awaited return to Leeds. Dressed all in black with matching ‘One Man Gang’ jackets, the Monroe cohorts face their drummer, as the legendary frontman bounds towards the microphone and leads them into the high energy tongue twister of a title track.
It’s no surprise that the band are on fire from the off. Rich Jones and Steve Conte play riffs off each other, Sami Yaffa brings the trademark low end rumble and Karl Rockfist pummels the hell out of his kit, as Finland’s very own Iggy Pop bounds about the stage like a 25 year old rock star with something to prove. This band is high energy rock ‘n’ roll personified and they sound magnificent.
Opening a set with 5 songs from your new album is a brave move, especially with the back catalogue Michael Monroe has. I guess it goes to show how strongly the band believes in the new material. And while ‘Last Train to Tokyo’ and ‘Junk Planet’ sound mighty live and get plenty of crowd reaction, no one down the front is moving. In fact it’s not until the familiar vocal drawl of ‘Ballad Of The Lower East Side’ that things really get cooking and the front erupts into a frenzy. So good, it sounds so good! The band have hit the level and the crowd are with them , then just after Conte pulls of a killer solo…boom! They blow the power!
Instant comedown…the show stops abruptly. But the livewire frontman is not going to let a simple thing like electricity stop his show, on no. So while the band shrug their shoulders and head to the bar while stage guys frantically try to fix the problem, the singer takes to the kit and does a 10 minute drum solo, entertains the front row with his spinning glowsticks and even gets his sax out for a solo, before power is thankfully restored.
The band strap on their instruments, have a quick discussion and blast back right where they left off mid-song, like nothing ever happened. Rock ‘n’ fuckin’ roll! ‘Old King’s Road’ and a punky ‘78’ follow, with Rich and Sami joining Michael with the high kick action. The band seem in their element, Rich Jones especially is animated and at the font mouthing the words to the songs.
The room erupts once more as Sami plays the classic bass riff that introduces ‘Motorvatin’. I will never tire of hearing those old Hanoi songs and neither will the majority here, judging by the response. Classic follows classic, an extended and emotive ‘Don’t You Ever Leave Me’, a killer ‘Malibu Beach’ and a frantic ‘Up Around The Bend’. The band play with the energy and attitude needed to deliver these classics to an audience that laps up every note and every melody.
A Demolition 23 double bill encore follows the dark and dramatic newbie ‘Low Life In High Places’. ‘Nothin’s Alright’ and ‘Hammersmith Palais’ are like an injection of adrenaline straight to the heart. Closing with The Stooges classic ‘I Feel Alright’ is the icing on the cake. Raw, sweaty, high energy rock ‘n’ roll, it doesn’t get any better than this.

Michael Monroe and his band are a well-oiled machine with an arsenal of some of the best rock ‘n’ roll songs you could wish for. And the legendary frontman is a performer who gives his all every show. Tonight they truly had to work for it, but technical issue were never going to halt a band of this calibre and in the live arena, they are simply untouchable. Probably the best gig I have seen at this venue.

Author: Ben Hughes

‘One Man Gang’ Album Review Here

Picture from the exceptionally talented Neil Vary Gig Photography

“Junk Planet” is the third single from Michael Monroe’s dirty and dangerous new album “One Man Gang” available to buy NOW on CD, Coloured Vinyl and Digital formats: Here and as special D2C bundles: Here

 

Recorded and mixed by Petri Majuri at E-Studio in Sipoo, Finland over three weeks in March 2018, the 12-song record was mixed that following Autumn with Monroe and band-mates Rich Jones and Steve Conte on production duties. With stunning presence, Monroe’s vocals blaze their unique trail across catchy, low-slung guitars mixing with saxophones, harmonicas and trumpets, plus a smorgasbord of exciting hooks and melodies. One Man Gang is old-skool strut with rudely fresh vigour.

 

2019 TOUR DATES

Oct 24 Fryshuset Klubben Stockholm, Sweden

Oct 25 High Voltage Rock Club Copenhagen, Denmark

Oct 26 HeadCRASH Hamburg, Germany

Oct 27 FRANNZ Club Berlin, Germany

Oct 29 La Maroquinerie Paris, France

Oct 30 02 Academy Islington London, United Kingdom

Nov 01 Brudenell Social Club Leeds, United Kingdom

Nov 02 The Craufurd Arms Wolverton, United Kingdom

Nov 03 Engine Rooms Southhampton, United Kingdom

Nov 04 The Mill, Digbeth Birmingham, United Kingdom

Nov 05 The Garage Glasgow, United Kingdom

Nov 06 Manchester Club Academy Manchester, United Kingdom

Nov 07 The Fleece Bristol, United Kingdom

Nov 08 The Sugarmill Stoke-on-trent, United Kingdom

Nov 09 Hard Rock Hell Chapter XIII Vauxhall Holiday Park, Great Yarmouth, United Kingdom

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Michael Monroe’s Official YouTube Channel, featuring official videos and music, behind the scenes footage, documentaries, tour diaries and much more! A genuine rock star since birth, Michael Monroe’ place in history was sealed with Hanoi Rocks, but he has never been one to rest on his laurels! Michael Monroe innately knows exactly how to sing, swagger and walk the most glamorous and colourful of walks. Together with Sami Yaffa, Rich Jones, Steve Conte and Karl Rockfist, Monroe takes you on a journey which is all about the fun of Friday nights, seven days a week, letting your hair down (or up!) for a dirty, dangerous, damn good time, and embracing a total escape into the rock ‘n’ roll dream!

A lot has happened in the rock ‘n’ roll world in the four years since ‘Blackout States’, the last album from Michael Monroe, hit the shelves. Slash and Duff rejoined Guns n’ Roses and are currently touring the world, The Wildhearts reformed and released their first (and arguably most important) album in ten years. Hell, even former Hanoi Rocks guitar-slinging legend Andy McCoy has beaten his former bandmate to releasing an album in 2019!

But while the wait for ‘One Man Gang’ has been a long one, the delay has been for good reason. Deals were struck and dotted lines signed to secure a record deal, management and build a promotion team to help get this album out where it needs to be heard. A band has to do what a band has to do in these trying times.

I refer to this band as The Monroes, as it has become way more than Michael Monroe the solo artist. Since the addition of former Black Halos man Rich Jones five years ago, this is the most stable line-up Michael Monroe has ever had. With Steve Conte, Karl Rockfist and of course former Hanoi Rocks bandmate Sami Yaffa backing the livewire frontman for 9 years, they have become a world-class live unit to be reckoned with. They have a certain chemistry, whether in the studio or on the stage, that cannot be faked. A gang mentality if you like, and this band possesses it in spades.

 

Recorded in Finland over a 3 week period in March last year, ‘One Man Gang’ was self-produced by Michael, Steve, and Rich, with the assistance of long-time engineer Petri Majuri, and all of the band members contribute to the writing process. As with the previous 3 albums, it has a punchy sound and a crystal clear production that captures and accentuates their killer live delivery.

Preaching his PMA (positive mental attitude), Monroe leads his cohorts through an incendiary, punk fuelled opener. The title track blasts from the speakers with a statement of intent. A tongue twister of a verse delivered with the fury and enthusiasm of a snotty, punk-ass kid. “I was front of the line when they gave out atti-chood!” he drawls in that unmistakable tone. You gotta love him, and the fact that The Damned legend Captain Sensible guests here with some cool guitar, well you just gotta love this song.

Recent single ‘Last Train To Tokyo’ is Monroe’s love letter to a city that he has had a special relationship with since the Hanoi Rocks days. Musically, its familiar territory as Steve Conte’s cool lead guitar refrain stabs over Rich Jones’ ’78 styled, punky riffage. An overly catchy chorus follows a well trodden, glitter-pathed road, recalling old haunts and memories. It’s a good place to be.

 

‘One Man Gang’ is an album choc-a-bloc with punchy rockers, loaded with Yaffa’s pumping bass and the low slung guitars of the formidable duo Conte and Jones. The likes of ‘Junk Planet’ and ‘The Pitfalls Of Being An Outsider’ are sure to be future live favourites.

Former Hanoi Rocks guitarist Nasty Suicide lends his six string prowess to the sonically seductive ‘Wasted Years’. It’s a song that has ‘single’ stamped all over it. There are hints of their former band as Monroe’s bursts of harmonica introduce the verses before another overly catchy chorus takes hold.  Elsewhere, ‘Hollywood Paranoia’ walks the boulevard of broken dreams for sure. With its prominent mariachi horn section and Hanoi-style ‘nearly out of tune’ backing vocals and a chorus that could’ve been pilfered straight from the ‘Not Fakin’ It sessions, ‘Heaven Is A Free State’ a surprise highlight that sees the band explore unchartered territory with great success.

 

 

They take things down momentarily. The balladic ‘Midsummer Nights’ is this album’s ‘Stained Glass Heart’, it’s pretty generic truth be told, and probably the only track that doesn’t really do it for me at this early stage. But the retrospective and contemplative ‘In The Tall Grass’ is much more interesting. The band creates atmosphere with great use of space, as our illustrious singer croons over a silky bass line. The guitars accentuating the vibe nicely in the background before breaking out into a guitar driven chorus, played out over urgent Rockfist beats. Another of many highlights.

 

If you are hoping for something groundbreaking from ‘One Man Gang’ you will be disappointed, but if you desire a high octane, rock ‘n’ roll rollercoaster of a ride, then sit back and buckle down. The Monroes deliver just what the doctor ordered. As the man himself says in the PR bumph “I do what I do and I’ll never change”.

Rock ‘n’ Roll legends are a dying breed. Michael Monroe is a living, breathing example to all aspiring musicians, and at 57 years old shows no sign of slowing down just yet. ‘One Man Gang’ is surely a testament to how having a full dose of PMA can do wonders for a rock ‘n’ roll soul.

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Buy ‘One Man Gang’ Here 

Author: Ben Hughes

 

Today sees the release of the new Michael Monroe single “One Man Gang” from the brand new album out Oct 18th.

The track also features the punk rock legend, Captain Sensible ( The Damned ) as a special guest playing the lead guitar on this one. If you’re into authentic, high-energy Rock’n’Roll you’re gonna dig this one!

Written by Rich Jones. The track features  Michael Monroe – lead vocal, Rich Jones & Steve Conte – guitars &  vocals, Sami Yaffa -bass, Karl Rockfist – drums, The Captain – guitar solo. ‘One Man Gang’ was also produced by the band. 

 

pic by tommy@tommyfoto.no

Matti Antero Kristian Fagerholm (Born 17 June 1962), you might know him as the legend that is Michael Monroe.  Not content with being the leader of the 80s best band Hanoi Rocks he then went on to form Demolition 23 (ok so Jerusalem Slim was before but that was something of an experiment) after Demolition 23 broke down he went on to record some superb solo albums as well as reform Hanoi for a few years with Andy before forging ahead with his solo career.

Beginning with ‘Nights Are So Long’ Monroe spent time living in NYC before returning to his native Finland where he still lives today.  You can debate til the cows come home as to which album is the best but for me ‘Nights Are So Long’ was the first and best.  ‘Not Fakin’ It’  followed and whilst it was commercially more accessible I never really liked the sound of the record as it tended to lean towards to Rock fraternity stateside and was the least Rock and Roll album of his back catalogue even if it did have some great tunes on it.

During the two thousands, his solo work contained some excellent self-penned songs as well as some awesome covers that gave the listener a glimpse into his record collection and what shaped him musically, before arriving at the last decade where his output and stable(ish) line up consisting of longtime collaborator and accomplice Sami Yaffa, Karl Rockfist and Steve Conte and Rich Jones are helping churn out some of the best live performances of his career as well as his most consistent albums since Hanoi.  ‘One Man Gang’ is eagerly anticipated and I’m sure will be a massive hit with fans old and new.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Svart Records were responsible for doing an amazing job on ‘Nights Are So Long’ and ‘Peace Of Mind’ and work is well underway on the next reissues. So with these the tour and new album its all ramping up to an exciting second half of 2019 and no sign of Monroe slowing down any day soon.

Ask anyone who’s seen him live as he still performs like a teenager. Constantly touring around the world playing songs from all corners of his career he still has the chops that’s not even up for debate  – the energy and above all the songs are there as is his energy  Monroe is a lifer to the cause of Rock and Roll and the multi-instrumentalist still has the passion.

Having just announced an extensive UK tour for later this year to coincide with the release of this album as well as working on re-releases of his solo albums with new packaging and bonus tracks Michael Monroe is a formidable force of nature.  when the album comes out buy it and when the tour comes around watch it.

Over twenty albums and countless singles and guest appearances, Monroe deserves all the plaudits he gets and the adulation of his many fans.  Keep Rockin’ like Fuck and Happy Birthday from RPM Online.