Scandinavian Tour – 2014
Thundermother – support act
19/10 – 2014
Live pictures and review by: Anders Sandvall
The Finnish rock legend Michael Monroe shows no signs of slowing down and is currently out supporting his new album HORNS AND HALOS which was released last year. When his guitarist Ginger (The Wildhearts) left Monroe’s band he turned to another well known guitar hero with Dregen (Backyard Babies) for help in handling the guitars. However, in March this year Dregen left the band in order to focus on his solo commitments so the new guitarist is now Rick Jones (The Ginger Wildheart Band, The Black Halos). I’m a bit disappointed that I didn’t have the chance to see Dregen and Monroe on stage together because I think they would have been the perfect dynamic duo. Monroe has been out doing festival shows this past summer and in October it was time for him to head on a Scandinavian tour that began in his homeland of Finland. The show in Sweden took place at a club called The Tivoli situated by the sea in the town of Helsingborg in the southern parts of Sweden.
Thundermother was the support act and they followed Monroe on the entire tour. Since they released their debut album ROCK N ROLL DISASTER the band has toured heavily and probably visited most of the clubs in Sweden. Me and a friend were outside the club a few hours before the show started and met Monroe and the band and they all were really kind and since my friend is from Finland he and Monroe had a nice time talking their native language. Monroe even let us in to the club early letting us watch the sound check and that’s something not many bands or artists normally do.
Helsingborg is situated right by the sea so it gets quite windy and this night the wind blew cold so we were really happy when the club opened so we could get back inside. The club is pretty small and there was no photo pit this night. The stage is located at one side of the room and across it lays the bar. Above the bar is a balcony where people can watch the show but the club only opens up the balcony if they are crowded. There is also a smaller room inside the club but Monroe was going to perform in the bigger one. Behind the drums a huge video screen was placed and while we were checking out the venue a little more, people arrived to the club. At about 8.30 the video screen showed the band name of the support act and the club got dark. It was time to kick off the night.
The band kicked off the show and they were full speed right ahead. Two songs were played after which the lead singer Cunningham thanked the crowd for the applause and said that Thundermother was given the pleasure to open for Michael Monroe and were really proud of that. Thundermother is:
Clara Cunningham – lead vocals
Filippa Nässil – guitar
Giorgia Carteri – guitar
Linda Ström – bass
Tilde Stenqvist – drums
The bands music leans towards AC/DC with edgy guitar riffs and all of the members seemed to be having a good time on stage. Cunningham and Nässil were the ones who took the biggest place on stage and they were the one that connected the most with the crowd. Cunningham comes from England and she also spoke in English in between the songs. I have to be honest and say that when I saw the band earlier this year I wasn’t impressed at all but now I was. The band has become tight and works more like a unit and Cunningham’s voice was brilliant. Nässil was incredible on guitar and I found myself nodding along in the songs.
Cunningham said it was nice to be playing in Helsingborg and that they were looking forward to heading out on the road with Monroe and his band. It was obvious that the band has gotten a lot out their live routine and they had some brilliant co-operation going on with the fans at the front of the stage. The set list consisted of songs from the latest album and the last song was “Shoot To Kill” where Nässil ran out in the audience in the middle of the song doing her lead guitar part there. That little excursion ended the time for Thundermother on stage and I think both the a band and the fans was really pleased with the performance – at least I know I was. Even though I really liked the performance, I couldn’t but wonder how the hell Cunningham could move around in such high heels as she did whilst singing!
The band really surprised me in a very positive way, and they were really tight. First and foremost ,it seemed like all of them had a good time on stage and their good mood rubbed off on the crowd. Their AC/DC rock n roll was the perfect opening for Michael Monroe.
The crew began to set the stage for Monroe and the video screen showed a picture of the entrance to the club. It took a while to get the stage ready and the crowd began to feel a bit anxious but after 35 minutes finally it was time for the iconic headline act to enter the stage at The Tivoli.
The show kicked off instantly with “78” and immediately it got quite crowded in front of the stage. “What Love Is” followed and Monroe was on fire from the very start of the show. Monroe jumped up and down on the amps situated at the edge of the stage in order to come closer to the fans. “TNT Diet” continued after which Monroe thanked the fans and said it was fun to be playing for them. He said the band thought they were playing too loud but they had to stay within the Swedish law regarding decibel levels and he asked what’s the deal with Swedes and their laws? The fans clapped their hands and agreed with Monroe and the show continued with “Ballad Of The Lower East Side”. The band Monroe tours with consists of:
Michael Monroe – lead vocals
Rich Jones – guitar
Steve Conte – guitar
Sam Yaffa – bass
Karl Rockfist – drums
Rockfist and Yaffa worked perfect together in the rhythm section and both guitarists contributed with some edgy rock riffs. And what about Monroe – well he’s definitely one of the best and most charismatic frontmen I’ve ever seen. The next song “Horns And Halos” kicked off and the title track to the new album was as great live as it is on album. Monroe climbed up to the balcony and sang most of the song up there looking down on the crowd. A bunch of cellphones were raised towards Monroe and took pics of his hazardous adventure climbing up to the balcony. “Trick Of The Wrist” followed but by then Monroe had already climbed down to the stage and said that the audience was doing great. The next song he dedicated to a journalist that did an interview with Monroe during the day but before the song kicked off he introduced the band. The song was “Nights Are So Long” which was followed by “Soul Surrender” and “Saturday Night Special”. Even though the crowd did their best to support Monroe they sometimes felt a bit reluctant and mostly stood solid on their spot clapping their hands after each song. Monroe did a great job with getting the crowd going. He ran around on the stage, climbed the amps and jumped up and down but that didn’t turn on the majority of the crowd. “Stained Glass Heart” and “Get Blood?” followed and Monroe showed several times how flexible he is with his splits and kicking his legs high above the mic stand. He also showed off his skills on harmonica and saxophone during the show and it was nice to hear some songs he usually doesn’t play live.
Monroe asked if anyone remembered Hanoi Rocks and that woke up the crowd up as they now screamed and cheered. The next song was the Hanoi Rocks tune “Boulevard Of Broken Dreams”. The band only had to play the first few tones of the song to make the crowd go crazy and the fans sang along and clapped their hands. Monroe encouraged the fans to sing a long in the chorus with him which everyone did and Monroe thanked for the support. “Hammersmith Palais” followed and it’s taken from the sadly forgotten brilliant self titled album by Demolition 23. Right away followed “Nothings Alright” taken from the same album and the crowd now seemed to have been given a wake up call because they shouted and cheered from the top of their lungs.
A few of the fans that were standing at the back in the club made their way through the crowd to get to the front of the stage. Well, it’s never too late to wake up or maybe it was the beer that made people more eager and courageous. Monroe even ended the song out amongst the crowd and the fans let him be while he sang it. When he returned back on the stage he looked really happy and had a big smile on his face. He put on his saxophone and said that we might recognize the next song. The band then played the first notes of the amazing Creedence Clearwater Revival song “Up Around The Bend”. The song is one of the biggest hits that Hanoi Rocks had before they quit and they really managed to make the song their own. The fans sang a long and Monroe invited them to sing with him in the chorus. It felt like this song was the one the fans had waited for the most and the sing a long was loud to say the least. Monroe once again thanked for the great support and announced the last song which was “Dead, Jail Or Rock n Roll”. Monroe let the fans sing the last chorus and that song ended the one hour show. I was surprised that the show was so short but of course Monroe was going to give the fans a few encores.
The fans shouted for encores and after a few minutes came a very sweaty Monroe and band back on the stage. Conte went over to his mic and Monroe looked at Conte and asked what he wanted. Conte said he had a shuffle coming up and started to play the AC/DC song “Dirty Deeds, Done Dirt Cheap”. The band fired off a brilliant version of the song and I was impressed by how easy the band made the song to their own. Yaffa and Jones who had mostly stood solid on their spot during the main show started now moving around just like Monroe and Conte did. “Back To Mystery City” was the second encore and it was greeted with as much applauds and cheers as the AC/DC cover. Once again Monroe climbed up to the balcony and pulled out a chair and sang the song while he was looking down on the fans. For the second time around he introduced the band and asked if the fans were doing well. Conte took the mic and said – don’t forget to give a hand for Michael Monroe and the fans screamed even louder than before. Monroe said the band had one song left to play and it was the mighty “Malibu Beach Nightmare” which made the fans go crazy.
The show lasted for 75 minutes and I left the club wanting to hear more from the legendary Michael Monroe – the godfather of glam/sleaze rock n roll. The show was simply amazing with a band on fire and a Monroe in an extra ordinary mood. The set list was solid and included current solo material, some Hanoi Rocks goodies, as well as a few long lost solo songs from way back. The band and Monroe fit perfectly and I really hope that this line-up can last for a long time. It’s nice to see that Monroe doesn’t only perform in Finland but in the rest of Scandinavia as well. I really hope that the rest of Europe and the world is able to see a Monroe show in the near future. As a Swede, I think it’s too bad that most Finnish acts only tour in Finland and don’t head over to the other Scandinavian countries – and if they do they mainly visit festivals and do not tour on their own. Most Swedish acts tour in Finland as well as in the rest of Scandinavia and I think that is something the Finnish acts should think about.
The 3 highlights of the show were the songs from the new album HORNS AND HALOS. It was really nice to hear the songs from the Demolition 23 album. It was also great fun to hear the long lost song “Nights Are So Long” from Monroe’s solo debut. But why didn’t he play any song from his other act Jerusalem Slim?
Set list (not in order)
What Love Is
Ballad Of The Lower East Side
Horns And Halos
Trick Of the Wrist
Nights Are So Long
Saturday Night Special
Stained Glass Heart
Boulevard Of Broken Dreams
Up Around The Bend
Dead, Jail Or Rock n Roll
Dirty Deeds, Done Dirt Cheap
Back To Mystery City
Malibu Beach Nightmare
Thanks to Ira Keelyn at Triada Communication for the help.
Thanks to Virpi Immonen at Full Steam Management for help with press/photo pass.
Thanks to tourmanager Heikki Häkkinen for the help.
Thanks to Tero “Pekka” Ristakoski for the help.