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’.