IT’s been a looooong time coming but finally the evening has arrived where Michael Monroe pays tribute to The Lords Of The New Church. This has been hanging around since the pandemic first broke and the will they wont they questions were asked. I’m so glad it wasn’t shelved or kicked to the long grass because those Lords songs are too good to be resigned to history and whilst Brian, Dave as well as Mark Taylor are still with us we need to celebrate them and who better to stand in for Stiv than his old mucca Michael Monroe. Whoever pulld this off give yourself a big pat on the back because I’m sure Stiv was looking down and tipping his hat in approval. anyway I get ahead of myself. Whilst it was all about The Lords for me there was plenty going on besides as a well attended Shepherds Bush Empire will testify.

The first VLRockers set involved a couple of covers fronted by Paul Ronney Angel the choice of the two being a riproaring ‘Teenage Depression’. Then they were joined by Kim and Jackie for the HeadGirl EP with Beki Bondage adding vocals for ‘Please Don’t Touch’. The final track of the first 30 mins was ‘God Save The Queen’ with Millie Manders and Gaff which was dedicated to Lydon as the news that Nora had just passed away filtered through. The real highlight of this set I would say was the brass section which really added to this song selection…making it sound so much more than a mere covers set. A most lively of starts….

To be fair to the VLRockers house band they were in fine form all evening and did some sterling work when playing ‘Pipeline’ or having Jim Jones join them to tear through some Rock n Roll standards like their rcollective tails were on fire. The special guests were prompt and the awards were handed out in fine Mick Fleetwood and Sam Fox fashion which led to the live bands for the night and collecting an award the Cockney Rejects then performed a very brief set of their material with new tunes wedged between old classic Rejects culminating in a fine rendition of ‘Badman’ the only downside was some plonker in the audience chanting Chelsea at the boys from Canning Town and I’m sure he wouldn’t have been so edgy had any of the band heard his foul tirade, there’s always one.

Anyway, next up was Neville Staples Band and after catching this band perform an incredible set at Rebellion many moons ago they once again didn’t disappoint plucking Specials hits left right and centre and in thirty minutes the whole venue was moon stomping and singing along to classics like ‘Ghost Town’ and ‘Monkey Man’ once again I’d seen a fantastic set from a fantastic band whose energy and positivity was boundless.

It seemed like the years were pealing away and I was taken back to when I’d seen The Lords Of The New Church with the most incredible of frontmen in Stiv Bator but alas he has long since departed and all that is left is his memory and his music and if you were to pick one man to perform those songs with the band then it had to be the one and only Michael Monroe. As the house lights went down and Mark Taylor fired up the synth for the intro of ‘New Church’ I swear a warm glow descended over this theatre in West London and a gift from the rock n roll Gods fell down. Dave Treganna fired up that bass throb in time with Terry Chimes’ drum beat and we were off before the unmistakable roar of Brian James’ guitar filled every corner of your soul, we have lift off as Monroe danced to the front centre and it was finally happening. It was, however, an all too brief set and being greedy I could have heard them play every single track the Lords had recorded and still wanted more but alas I’ll take this however brief it might have been. ‘Livin’ on Livin’’, and ‘Method To My Madness’ Were fired out of the PA with aplomb as were classic Lords ‘Dance With Me’ which was well deserving of the Moroe saxophone

It was a no-brainer as far as I was concerned, this was never going to be a car crash of any description the players and the music was far greater than that possibility was ever meant to be. Let’s not forget for a minute these songs are 30-plus years old and a lot of water has flowed under the bridge since they were last played in anger by Mr James or anybody for that matter. It truly was a joy to close your eyes and feel the weight of ‘Russian Roulette’ or ‘Dance With Me’ filling the air of a concert hall again.

The band were then joined on stage by none other than Mr Rat Scabies who presented his old pal Brian with an award before ordering mr Chimes to Fuck off the drum stool so he could sit in and hammer out a mighty fine rendition of ‘New Rose’ as Michael Monroe looked genuinely star struck having to sing the song. It was a magical moment amongst several magical moments that had occurred over the last thirty minutes. Some of my favourite performers over a lifetime of music, on a stage playing some of my favourite songs ever. It was something I was trying to compute in real-time but I don’t know if I’ve taken it all in I do however know that I was delighted this evening had finally taken place and seeing the living Lords reform with Nick Turner standing on the stage left to supply tambourine and backing vocals was the icing on the cake. It was then abruptly brought to an end after an impressive Bo Diddley/New York Dolls’ ‘Pills’ and then they were done.

A tremendously entertaining night from Vive Le Rock with some fantastic performances topped off by The Lords Of The Fucking New Church Revisited Can we do this again sometime? pretty please.