Gig Review: MICHAEL MONROE – Thekla, Bristol, 2 December 2013

Michael Monroe’s illustrious career in the history of rock and roll started in 1980 when he was the flamboyant, fun and edgy vocalist of Hanoi Rocks. This new sounding glam punk band had a strong influence over many bands including Motley Crue and Guns N Roses. The band released a live album in 1985 and in 1986 Mr Monroe moved on to the first of many solo projects. Forming two other bands and playing with a reformed Hanoi Rocks on occasion, he has stayed very active over the years, releasing 21 albums during his career in total.

Tonight’s venue,Thekla, is a cargo ship that now houses a music venue of the same name. Moored on The Grove at the beginning of Bristol’s waterfront area it provided the perfect backdrop to the night’s entertainment.

First up tonight were Bristol’s own BlackWolf. This relatively new outfit are exceptionally tight and have a good groove. They had one of the best sounds I have heard on an early support act in ages, very clean and sharp, which complemented their traditional, yet modern take on hard rock. Their single, ‘Mr Maker’, is a great track and singer Scott Sharp can maintain his range when performing live.  ‘Moving Mountains’ from their album ‘Hunt’, is another great track that translated well in a very good live performance.  These boys are well worth checking out, especially if you are a fan of hard rock with good melodies.

Next up were another of Bristol’s own, hard rocking goth act, Her Dark Embrace. These guys differed musically from BlackWolf, but the blend worked well. This was a more intense performance, but equally rich in sound and with an edge of Sister of Mercy and The Damned.

‘Sinking Feeling’, ‘Flatline’ and their single ‘December’, were standout tracks which define their sound well.  They coped also with a slight technical hiccup and delivered a solid performance with some very emotional gothic melodies.

After a great lead up the house was now packed, including upstairs balcony, for the arrival of Michael Monroe. The intro song started as the band came on stage, welcomed by the cheering crowd. The man himself then burst onstage with great energy and the crowd erupted as he covered the stage at a great rate. Michael’s vocals were as great as ever and he had a massive 5 mile wide smile on his face.

Performing ‘Horns and Halos’, ‘Trick of the Wrist’ and ‘78′ amongst others Michael never missed a beat, jumping around, dancing and  interacting with the crowd, he never kept still. It’s easy to see why the man’s ‘showman’ reputation is well deserved. Ex-New York Doll, Steve Conti, was very slick on guitar with a stylish swagger, providing great solos and killer riffs. Another man moving and grooving was bassist Sami Yaffa who had an excellent rapport with fans new and old whilst providing a solid backbeat.

Monroe continued to smile and play the crowd as he raced through the set at pace without stopping for breath. The band played a string of hits like ‘Stained Glass Soul’ and Hanoi Rocks songs including ‘Malibu Beach’. They finally finishing up with the classic ‘Dead, Jail or Rock N Roll’ with Michael high kicking his way through the chorus.

The band provided a high energy show that proved Michael is well worthy of his ‘legend’ status and that he still has plenty to give an always adoring crowd.

Review and photos by Jeff Oram

David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 26 July.. In the first hour David pays tribute to the blues/rock guitarist Peter Green.

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