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For centuries, people from around the world have searched for the fabled Fountain of Youth. Little did they know its actual location was Helsinki, Finland… in Michael Monroe’s backyard!
He’s been drinking from it for the last 25 years if last Thursday’s opening night gig in San Francisco was any indication. When it was time for Monroe and his all-star band (guitarists Ginger & Steve Conte, drummer Karl Rockfist and legendary bassist Sami Yaffa) to take the stage, Michael didn’t appear onstage – rather he appeared above the stage in a go-go cage!
After taking in the crowd’s adulation with wide eyes and a big smile, he climbed down to join his bandmates and tore into ‘Nothin’s Alright’ from Demolition 23. Michael was in head-to-toe black leather, his signature platinum blonde hair teased to the ceiling. It was 1984 all over again…he hadn’t aged a bit!! He was a ball of energy – jumping, dancing and spinning all over the tiny stage, whipping the crowd into a frenzy. This man is a HELL of a showman with energy to burn! He looked great, sounded better than ever and certainly earned all the love he was getting from the crowd (which included Billy Rowe & Fernie Rod from SF rockers Jetboy).
After a quick hello, Michael launched into ‘Motorvatin’’ from Hanoi Rocks second album “Oriental Beat”, then back to D23 for ‘Hammersmith Palais’. What an experience for those of us that waited so long for him to return to the USA (I waited 20+ years to see him in person). Michael finally took a breath and a drink of water, and we were then treated to a new track, ‘You’re Next’. Lest anyone think this is just a nostalgia tour – we’ve got fresh material from a legend! If this one was any indication, look out for an amazing album in the coming year.
Up next were the appropriate ‘Not Fakin’ It’ and ‘Dysfunctional’. The die-hards loved it and Monroe virgins like my wife Evil & me were looking at each other wondering “DAMN!! Why the F$@% did we wait so long?”
Throughout the set, Monroe would break out a harmonica and on one occasion, a saxophone. Somehow, on this milk crate they were calling a stage, he actually did the splits. This guy is talented!! The club was packed & sweltering and the band wasn’t letting up. Michael was all over the place – including climbing up to the balcony. Does this man EVER take the stairs? What a rock & roll show!!
New song ‘Another Night in the Sun’ was followed by the one-two punch of ‘I Wanna Be Loved’ and Hanoi classic ‘Boulevard of Broken Dreams’ (which cause the throng behind me to go completely mental). Another new one – ‘Motorheaded for a Fall’ - led into a trifecta of HR gems: ‘Back to Mystery City’, ‘Tragedy’ and ‘Malibu Beach Nightmare’ before Michael brought the set to a close with a reading of the evening’s theme, ‘Dead, Jail or Rock & Roll’, complete with enthusiastic crowd participation on the chorus. After the last note, Monroe scrambled back up into the cage and disappeared, only to return shortly after for a triple shot encore of ‘Ain’t Nothin’ to Do’, ‘Taxi Driver’ and ‘I Feel Alright’…which is how everyone in attendance felt after such a spectacular performance – I sure as hell did!!
I started the night off hours earlier saying, “Someone’s gonna end up in jail or dead tonight”. Luckily, that didn’t happen…but we sure enjoyed one incredible night of rock & roll.
Aaron, Evil Eye Images