High Voltage, Copenhagen, Denmark
11/3 – 2016
Live pictures and review by: Anders Sandvall
Guest contributor: Ulrika Henriksson
Finnish rock n’ roll legend Michael Monroe is out making the roads unsafe in Scandinavia. He recently released the brand new studio album BLACKOUT STATES as well as first single, the excellent “Old Kings Road”. The album is simply outstanding and is also the first release that features new guitarist Rich Jones who replaced Dregen. The tour kicked off at High Voltage located in downtown Copenhagen. The rock club mostly hosts smaller bands from the local scene. The tour is pretty short with only six shows, three of them at home in Finland. After Copenhagen the band headed for Norway for a sold out show and the day after that it was time for Stockholm, Sweden. Prior to this tour Monroe had been out on tour in USA with the Swedish rock/sleaze act Hardcore Superstar. As support act on some of the dates on this Scandinavian tour Monroe had none other than the ex-guitarist of Hardcore Superstar Thomas Silver. The doors to the club were going to open at 10pm and Silver was going to be on stage at 11pm. Monroe was scheduled to go on after that and with the night club kicking off at 1am, it meant Monroe would have a very short playing time. But that didn’t matter to us, since Monroe doesn’t perform live in Sweden or Denmark very often and we were glad to see him in action whether he was going to play 60 minutes or less. We met a lot of fans from Sweden, Denmark and Finland that had waited a long time to see Monroe live and it was quite obvious that the fans want him to perform live in Scandinavia more in the future. We got our stuff signed by the band, except for Monroe, who didn’t seem to be in the mood and quickly rushed by the fans without signing anything.
We got inside the club shortly after they opened. It was really nice to get in because the weather was really cold and windy. We left our jackets in the wardrobe and made our way down the short set of stairs into the club. A table of merchandise met us as we came in where Monroe sold T-shirts, albums and harmonicas. On our left, the small stage was placed in the middle of the room, while the bar was situated such that you could order from either side. Further inside there were tables and chairs and a pool table. The place was actually quite shabby but it still had its charm. The rock n’ roll feeling clings to you the moment you set foot in the club. A DJ played good old rock/metal music while waiting for Silver to go on. People started to arrive the moment the club opened.
Silver ran through two songs after which he asked the crowd if he was going to speak Swedish or English. It landed on English and he introduced himself and his band and it was obvious that it was pretty crowded on the small stage because no one actually moved around. Only Silver used the small space fully. Silver’s classic rock n’ roll music seemed to be working pretty good and he said it was nice that so many had come to see him and the band even though they haven’t released an album yet. Silver did a great job as a singer and he is still as great on guitar as he was back in the days with Hardcore Superstar. He’s a great front man with charisma. I think it’s really nice that he’s got a solo career going and can’t wait to hear his first solo album. It’s a bit hard to say something about the songs he played since we hadn’t heard them yet, but from what we heard they sounded promising. Silver again thanked the fans for the support and said that he knew we were all waiting for Monroe to kick off his show. He said that Monroe is one of the nicest artists he had ever met and it was an honor to open for him. Silver’s show lasted for 35 minutes and he definitely left us longing for more. He had a great back up band and we were surprised that he had such a great voice. He is born to stand on stage in the limelight and he sure gave a solid taste of what we can expect from the solo album.
By now it had gotten pretty crowded in the club and everyone was waiting for Monroe to kick off his show. Silver used Monroe’s drums and that made it easier and faster for the crew to prep the stage. Despite that, it took a while until the stage was ready and people started to gather in front in order to get the best place to see. Inside the club there are a lot of pillars that make it hard to see the stage and therefore everyone wanted to stand as close to the stage as possible. It took about 30 minutes to get the gear in place at at midnight it was time for Michael Monroe to take on Copenhagen.
The members made their way on to the stage to the sound of the intro music and quickly kicked off “This Ain’t No Love Song” as Monroe showed up. As soon as the fans saw him they all shouted and clapped their hands as Monroe filled the small stage with his presence. “Old Kings Road” followed and he asked how the fans were doing. “Trick Of The Wrist” and “’78” followed instantly and Monroe got so tired of the stage being so small that he climbed on to a pillar and climbed over to the bar, continuing the song sitting on the bar together with the fans.
The lineup of the band this night was is:
Michael Monroe – lead vocals
Steve Conte – guitar
Sami Yaffa – bass
Rich Jones – guitar
Karl Rockfist – drums
“Ballad of the Lower East Side” continued the night and once again Monroe climbed over to the bar and sang the song over there. He is a man that needs space to move around and the small stage at High Voltage didn’t fulfill that need. The fans were pleasantly surprised to see their hero up close but the question was how satisfied was Monroe?
The songs were played way too fast, the sound wasn’t great, and don’t get me started on the lights. If the club is going to host bigger acts like Monroe they need to invest in proper lights. “Man With No Eyes” followed and once again he made his way to the bar. The fans did their best to support Monroe and the band seemed to be really happy with the great reaction they got as it was pretty crowded in front of the stage. He made his way back to the stage, put on his saxophone and fired off “Malibu Beach Nightmare” which was the first Hanoi Rocks song for the night. The fans loved the song and it seemed to be one of the songs the crowd had been waiting for to hear. The excellent “Horns and Halos” continued the night but as I mentioned earlier the songs went too fast and it felt like they rushed through the set. I (Ulrika) was really disappointed when I heard the song, it’s one of my favorite ones by Monroe but I hardly recognized it in this shape and form. It felt like Monroe wanted the show to go fast and he hardly did any talking in between the songs; it was full speed ahead from the very start. “Now it’s time for a song from the new album”, Monroe said and fired off “R.L.F” as he brought his harmonica to the song. “Nothing’s Alright” from the excellent album with Demolition 23 followed and it’s fun to hear that he had the guts to play a song from an album that wasn’t received so well back in the day. In my (Anders) opinion, the album is a forgotten classic that included not only Monroe but also Yaffa in the line-up.
The band was really solid and competent and all the members completed each other, Monroe is a great entertainer but he needs to be backed up by solid musicians and he has found that in the current line-up. By his physique, it’s hard to believe that Monroe is 53 years old and he still pulls off moves that are hard for any younger person to do. We missed the leg kicks and the splits but they were probably left out because of the limited space. Another Demolition 23 piece in “Hammersmith Palais” followed and he invited the fans to sing the chorus with him. The temperature had gone tropic and Monroe was soaked in sweat as “Get Blood” followed. He said he the best band in the world backing him up as he introduced everyone and wanted the fans to give them a warm hand. He put on a captain’s hat and kicked off “”Goin Down With the Ship” which is a brilliant song taken from the new album BLACKOUT STATES. The new songs worked as great as the older ones and it felt like the fans have embraced the new album well.
Another Hanoi Rocks song, “Tragedy”, followed as well as the brilliant cover of “Up Around the Bend” which is one of mine & Anders’ personal favorites. “Dead, Jail or Rock n’ Roll” was the last song out for the main part of the show and it seemed to be long awaited amongst the fans who went crazy and sang along with Monroe. At the end of the song Monroe climbed up on the drum set and jumped down as the song ended, finishing the 1 hour long show.
The band went off stage and the fans began to scream for an encore the second the members left. A few minutes later the guys returned and Monroe said “thanks so much, the next song is about Scandinavia and how nice it is here – this is “Under the Northern Lights”. Since both the band and fans were really hot and sweaty, it was nice that the first encore was a ballad. It wasn’t a show stopper at all, it was just a few minutes to catch your breath. Monroe once again took out his harmonica and marked the second encore “I Wanna Be Loved. For the last time this night he climbed on one of the pillars, out to the bar and sang the song there. In the middle, the band changed song to “L.A. Woman” by The Doors after which they switched back and finished off the 75-minute long evening. They all just went off the stage and it was a pretty abrupt ending of the show.
The set list was brilliant and included the perfect mix of old and current songs. ‘It was really nice to hear the old solo song “Man With No Eyes”, the two Demoliton 23 songs and the band was crazy tight. Despite the great set list, it still lacked songs from the Jerusalem Slim album; it would have been a treat to hear some of those excellent pieces. However, it felt like Monroe has done better shows and that he wasn’t at the top of his game this night. The songs went way too fast, he didn’t do much talking, the stage was too small for him, and didn’t offer much space to move around on. Monroe’s mic failed twice and he had to takes Conte’s mic instead. Finally, the show was too short. No this wasn’t the best Monroe show we’ve seen and we feel that if you’re a head line act, you ought to play at least 90 minutes with encores. But even though the show left something to be desired, we were happy to see Monroe live in action once again as it was a long time since we last saw him. It wasn’t the best show he’d done but it was memorable because of his status as a legend in the rock n’ roll industry. If we had one wish, it would be for Monroe to do more live shows in Scandinavia.
This Ain’t No Love Song
Old Kings Road
Trick Of The Wrist
Ballad Of The Lower East Side
Man With No Eyes
Malibu Beach Nightmare
Horns And Halos
Going Down With The Ship
Up Around The Bend
Dead, Jail Or Rock n Roll
Under The Northern Lights
I Wanna Be Loved
Thanks to Tuula Rossi at Spinefarm Music and Universal Music for help with press/photo-pass to this show.