My first memory of Michael Monroe was watching a Hanoi Rocks video on Much Music – I think in 1982 – I taped it on VHS, along with an extended interview with Keith Richards and some other random stuff that appealed to my 12-year-old self. My best friend Kathleen and I were obsessed with the Rolling Stones, and seeing Michael Monroe and Andy McCoy on screen back then, glammed up like a perverted version of the Glimmer Twins, triggered something big.
The next few years were a blur of discovery at the local record store every day after school finding the next links up the chain. Naturally, I became obsessed with the New York Dolls, stopped watching music videos in favor of mining the punk rock decade I’d so narrowly missed, and David Johansen & Johnny Thunders all but replaced that rock and roll glam twin category in my mind. I was upset to hear about Hanoi Rocks drummer Razzle’s death though, the year I started high school, and knew there was solo Monroe stuff happening…
A short thirty years later, Richard gets a call from our friend Johnny who’s out of town and can’t use his tickets to Michael Monroe, and we’re off to the Whiskey to check it out! I didn’t know what to expect, but immediately pictured that fuzzy VHS footage that Kathleen and I watched over and over again. Then I got a quick education on what the hell the guy’s been up to for the past few decades in the car ride there….a lot.
So…it turns out he’s a still a rock monster of epic proportions. They came out and opened with This Ain’t No Love Song.
Monroe is as lean and glamorous as ever, his watery blue eyes so big you can see them from the back of the room, even under the shaggy blond mane. He swings the mic stand around like a baton, wielding his saxophone for some well-placed solos and jumps around like he’s got the body of a twenty-something. I heard more than one person say “he must work out….” – Yeah, no kidding, as we’re watching him continually leap off the drum riser. His voice sounds great, he looks fucking awesome and apparently doesn’t get tired.
Sami Yaffa from the original Hanoi Rocks line-up plays bass, Karl Rockfist on drums, and the guitar players are Rich Jones and Steve Conte, who played with the re-formed New York Dolls. They ripped through all the rock anthems nonstop – some seriously good songwriting here – but I have to admit my favorite was the ingeniously simple and very punk, Rock Like Fuck. Enjoy!
Hardcore Superstar opened and were so engaged with the audience it was almost comical. You had no choice but to pay attention – and their songs delivered. I think they opened with Don’t Mean Shit – rivaling Rock Like Fuck for best song titles of the night!….and we were all hooked. Fun & fierce, heavy metal ballads and straight up hard rock songs seem to come so naturally and authentically for these guys, it’s no surprise they’ve been together for twenty years.