Review: Michael Monroe / Hardcore Superstar, Glasgow

The only problem with gigs in venues that have club nights are the infeasibly early starts. Hardcore Superstar came on just after 7pm, but thankfully the Cathouse was packed with punters savvy enough to get their arses out their front doors and into Glasgow in time. The roar that greeted them was intense, and it’s fair to say that they could have been headlining their own gig.

By their own definition, Hardcore Superstar play “Street Metal”, a bastardized coupling of both Thrash and Sleaze. I reckon if Lemmy can walk on-stage and say “We are Motörhead, and we play Rock ‘n’ Roll”, then every other Rock or Metal band belongs to the same church. So leave the Thrash mumblings at the door, because these guys play 80’s Sunset Strip sleazy Rock ‘n’ Roll, but somehow manage to make it sound relevant in 2015.

Led by Jocke Berg on vocals (ironic name considering the town where the band were playing), Hardcore Superstar have a new album to plug, and the set consists of a healthy dose of material from April’s HCSS album as well as reaching way, way back through their impressive back catalogue. The songs are greeted with roars of approval from the partisan crowd, who seem to know every word to every song. ‘We Don’t Celebrate Sundays, ‘Last Call For Alcohol’, ‘Don’t Mean Shit’… all feature that trademark Hardcore Superstar sound. Great riffs with catchy, shouty choruses that are best sung at the top of your voice.’Above The Law’ is a real highlight. The song totally crushes live, but surely it can’t just be me that thinks the chorus sounds more like.. ‘Fuck The Law’? Another highlight is when Berg and guitarist Vic Zino pull up some stools and go full acoustic on ‘Here Comes That Sick Bitch’, which doesn’t seem to be about a poorly female dog. Hardcore Superstar are an unashamed and unabashed good time, don’t give a flying fuck, band. A noble characteristic, but make no mistake, these guys can play, especially drummer Adde Andreasson who finished the set with only one drum, as the roadie packed up his kit whilst he was still playing! Damn these tight turnarounds.

Michael Monroe is running late. The 8.45pm start time comes and goes, and there is no movement at all on stage. Then, 20 minutes or so after the scheduled start, the lights dim and the band amble on. There’s a flash of black, red, and blonde, and finally, the man himself makes his entrance.

Without missing a beat he’s straight into ’78’ from his 2011 album ‘Sensory Overdrive’, one of the most bombastic anthems this side of ‘Never Mind The Bollocks’, complete with it’s “You can’t take ’78 out of the boy…” shout-a-long chorus. Monroe is everywhere. Standing on the drum kit, on the barrier, over the barrier, simply refusing to stand still.

After a rousing run through of the punky ‘Old King’s Road’, from the new album ‘Blackout States’, Monroe pauses to explain his earlier lateness. It seems he was walking to the venue with his tour manager, and neither of them knew exactly where the gig was, so they had to stop and ask for directions, but everyone they asked were tourists, so they ended up having to run down Union Street to get to The Cathouse… literally running late!

Whether or not this brief cardio workout energized Monroe remains to be seen, as he always is a livewire on stage, as well as when he darted through the crowd singing and shaking hands, he’s a total ball of energy. Monroe and his excellent band, which includes ex Hanoi Rocks bandmate Sami Yaffa on bass, are in no mood to hang around, what with a curfew looming, so they blast through an incredible set of punky rock ‘n’ roll, best exemplified on ‘Ballad Of Lower East Side’ from the ‘Horns And Halos’ album, as well as ‘RLF (Rock Like Fuck)’ from ‘Blackout States’. The loss of Dregen on guitar hasn’t impacted the band at all, as Steve Conte and Rich Jones both completely batter their guitars into submission, especially on the cover of a cover ‘Up Around The Bend’, followed by ‘Dead, Jail, or Rock ‘n’ Roll’.

The night got a bit crazier later in the set as Michael is jumping around all over the place and he manages to knock the emergency exit light right off the roof. There were plenty of guilty looks between the band, but with no security up front to assist, he just sticks it in a gap and continues… The man is a legend.

Of course, Monroe is also a multi-talented musician who can make a saxophone sing, so it was a nice touch when he took time to pay homage to Stooges Sax player Steve Mackay, who had sadly just died.

This was a high tempo, full throttle evening from two acts out to make a point. That being, if you are willing to get your butt off of the couch, then you’ll find that the death knell sounded for Rock music was indeed highly premature. The pair hit London Electric Ballroom on Thursday 15th, before heading out to mainland Europe. Monroe returns to the UK for two shows with Alice Cooper on October 29th and 30th in Plymouth and Swindon respectively.

Review: Dave Stott

Images: Ritchie Birnie

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