Review: Michael Monroe – G2, Glasgow

It’s rather fitting that on November 5th, the most explosive fireworks on display in Glasgow were provided by Michael Monroe and his incredible band.

After a quick change in halls at The Garage (the main room was being readied for a night of pissed up debauchery on a bouncy castle – yes, really!), the queue was sent round the corner to the smaller G2.

Tyla, Michael MonroeFive minutes after the doors open, Tyla is due onstage for a special acoustic set. Start time comes and goes and he is nowhere to be found. Eventually he appears with band member Matty and they take their seats. He makes a joke about being late because he was at Spike’s (The Quireboys) house, as 7 o’clock is party time. Despite his set being cut in half, it’s still a fun 20 minutes or so that has the crowd singing and clapping, as well as roaring at Tyla’s raucous banter. He’s in fine form as the pair strum through the likes of ‘Last Bandit’, ‘Bottle Of Red’, ‘How Come It Never Rains’ and ‘Errol Flynn’. One of the last remaining mavericks on the UK music scene, and more power to him.

Main support for the tour is Japanese trio Electric Eel Shock. Christ on a stick, they are mental! The only word that can describe the thirty minutes or so that they are onstage, and even that doesn’t come close.

Electric Eel Shock, Michael MonroeComing on to the strains of ‘Iron Man’, bassist Kazuto Maekewa is on top of the monitor, geeing the crowd up; guitarist/vocalist Aki Morimoto is over on the far side doing the same. Drummer Tomoharu has four sticks primed and ready to go, two in each hand. He has a black tshirt on, and nothing else. Well, nothing apart from a rather long white sock on his middle stump. The tshirt doesn’t last long mind you and before long he is butt naked – apart from his sock. The venue is pitch dark, and the latecomers are wearing that same puzzled expression – “is he naked?!”. He’s not hiding, no. Instead of staying behind his kit he’s on top of it, swinging his, ahem, sock, at his drums. Like I said – mental.

Electric Eel Shock have been around for 25 years or so and are seasoned professionals. The blend of Punk, 80’s Metal and Thrash that they play is, at times, dizzying. They set out to give the crowd a night to remember, and they certainly succeeded. Even introducing the song ‘Bastard!’ by pointing at random crowd members and calling them bastards goes down well. When their set ends and the lights go up, the smiles on the faces of the crowd are Joker-sized. Miss these guys at your peril.

With brand new studio album ‘One Man Gang’ garnering praise from critics and fans alike, the firecracker known as Michael Monroe was always going to lean heavily towards the album when making up the setlist. The last few studio albums have shown a band at the top of their game and ‘One Man Gang’ continues this. So much so that the opening twenty minutes features five brand new tracks one after the other. Risky? Nah, not with tracks like ‘One Man Gang’ and ‘Last Train To Tokyo’, which are both tailor made for a dark, dingy club with the punters crammed in. The way that the Monroe faithful are lapping the pair up, you could be forgiven for thinking that they have been around for years, not weeks.

Michael MonroeMonroe has a special relationship with his fans; there are many here tonight who are attending every gig on this UK tour and Monroe instantly goes into the crowd to greet them. Now if you have caught Monroe in a live setting before, you will know that he is partial to the occasional climb onto the barrier, or in some cases the PA, or even swinging from the ceiling. It would seem that no-one told the bouncer though, as when Monroe climbs the barrier it leads to an altercation between them. A few choice words are dealt out by Monroe, who points out that he doesn’t need any help as his “friends” will look after him. The situation is diffused and Monroe apologises to the bouncer and we’re off again. Later on, Monroe goes for an unobstructed walkabout along a small ledge and ends up on top of the bar. It’s hard to contain the Finn, like catching lightning in a bottle.

The band, easily one of the finest group of musicians assembled today, is on fire. With a settled line-up for some years now, they make it look effortlessly easy. Guitarists Rich Jones and Steve Conte are either side of Monroe, both perfect foils for the frontman. Drummer Karl Rockfist lives up to his name, and then there is the ultra-cool figure of Sami Yaffa on bass. With their custom “One Man Gang” back patches, they certainly look the part and lay the foundations for Monroe to express himself in a way that only he can.

Songs? Okay, how about ‘Ballad Of Lower East Side’ followed by ‘Old Kings Road’ and ’78’? Probably the most energetic ten minutes that I’ve witnessed in a long time. ‘One Man Gang’ gets revisited again for ‘Black Ties and Red Tape’ as well as ‘Hollywood Paranoia’. ‘Dead Jail Or Rock ‘n’ Roll’ is as fresh today as it was when it was first released in 1989, then there are dips into the Hanoi Rocks catalogue. ‘Don’t You Ever Leave Me’ quickly followed by ‘Malibu Nightmare’ is a killer one-two, before the energy ramps up a notch or two for the Demolition 23 pair of ‘Nothin’s Alright’ and ‘Hammersmith Palais’.

Monroe’s energy and passion for life is infectious. With a killer band alongside him, and armed with an enviable battery of songs, there is no reason why he can’t continue well into the next decade.

Review – Dave

Images – Dave Jamieson

 

 

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