Michael Monroe is back on tour to promote his latest album One Man Gang that’s the fourth solo album with more or less the same line-up of the Michael Monroe band consisting of Sami Yaffa on bass, Rich Jones and Steve Conte on guitars and Karl Rockfist on drums that they have released since the Hanoi Rocks re-union came to a conclusion in 2009.
Tonight they are supported by Legendary sleaze rockers The Dogs D’Amour whose current line-up looks far healthier than they used to and features Tyla J Pallas on vocals and guitar, Gary Pennick on guitar, Matty James Cassidy on bass and Pip Mailing on drums.
Opening proceedings were the Japanese power trio Electric Eel Shock who I only saw the last half of the bands set as Akihito Morimoto led Kazuto Maekawa and Tomoharu “Gian” Ito to blast away at us. Of course they have a unique twist in drummer Gian who plays naked apart from some gloves and strategically placed socks and uses four drumsticks rather than the traditional two to give that extra power they need while riffing away in a very late 70s early 80’s power trio way.
They really got everyone headbanging on Rock ‘n Roll Can Rescue The World and although they hit all the clichés you could wish for on Metal Man they do it with so much love for rocking you can’t help but smile and enjoy watching them and seeing just what Gian is getting up to behind the drum kit.
The Dogs D’Amour then came on to a good size cheer and they looked remarkably healthy for a band with the sort of reputation for excess that they have. They opened with the rather wonderful Billy Two Rivers that’s a good tribute to an almost mythical figure who I heard lots of stories about from Blue Hughes who used to go and play banjo with him in the 80’s and 90’s, although this song was all about meeting him at the Desert Inn rather than out on the Reservation.
The band sounded just like you’d expect a good old rock & Roll band to sound sort of The Quireboys meets The Rolling Stones, which as the bands roadie Alan Clayton has also worked with both those bands seemed totally fitting.It takes something to have a song called Fireworks Girl that’s as much of a Christmas song as it is a Fireworks song, either way it sounded good and louche as I wondered what Jimmy did with that gun he had. What You Do sounded as much like a bit of a tiff as it did a love song and almost sounded tighter than it needed too.
In the Rock & Roll stakes for who are the Last Bandit Dogs D’Amour are now making a good claim having outlived The Dogs D’Amour affiliated group The Last Bandits, certainly a good few fans were singing along to every word. How Come It Never Rains however was the song just about everyone sang and swayed along too as the bands big anthem.
Tyla then made sure we knew just how much he liked a drink and what he liked drinking on Bottle Of Red that is wonderfully tinged with the odd regret among the desire to just crack open another bottle and drink some more. They closed by telling us just how much they wanna be like Errol Flynn which was a proper swashbuckling end to a cool set.
After the break Ennio Morricone’s Navajo Joe started blasting out to announce Michael Monroe’s band onto the stage and they opened the set with One Man Gang the title song of the new album and all the band members were wearing clothing branded with the albums “tiger head” motif and title as Michael swaggered across the stage waving a light stick and twirling the microphone stand and as ever the band were hyper mobile for the entire set.
Last Train To Tokyo blasted at us at a furious pace and Michael was high kicking and twirling across the stage as Sami Yaffa and Rich Jones seemed to be moving forwards and back in time with each other.Junk Planet continued the new material and it also had a good message about the state of the planet and how we are now living in fear of what may be to come if we don’t change things as Michael fanned himself and I think he may have also changed his hat for the first time.
They barely paused for breath all night and so were soon rampaging through The Pitfalls Of Being An Outsider a song that fits an awful lot of advice into a few short minutes as Steve Conte and Rich Jones try to outdo each other on guitar. Midsummer Nights had plenty of twirling of the microphone stand with the large flag of stars unfurled and trailing behind Michael.
They then started dipping into the back catalogue with The Ballad Of The Lower East Side that got the first big sing along of the night as we all agreed New York was better before it became squeaky clean and it had a good breakdown in the middle of it. But London’s gentrification was also dealt with on The Old Kings Road a great song about the good old days when I’d have been working in a shop along there and it was good and wild.
’78 evokes the spirit of that particular year pretty well and it was clear the audience was loving this performance as Michael kept changing hats, using his fans and various toys to keep us entertained and making sure you couldn’t take your eyes off the stage.
They then went back to the new album with Michael making sure we knew it was called One Man Gang for Black Ties And Red Tape that he shared the vocals on with Rich Jones who along with Steve Conte wrote most of the new albums songs and as the song points out they don’t play it straight.
Then we got the first Hanoi Rocks song of the set with a great swagger through Motorvatin’ before they did the rather downbeat and bitter Hollywood Paranoia that points a good few fingers at the more plastic rockers that town has produced over the years.
This Ain’t No Love Song was played so fast you could never have tried getting off to it as Karl Rockfist seemed to be playing his drums as fast as he could as Monroe just kept moving all over the place and keeping everyone happy.
Trick Of The Wrist was the first song of the set that Michael played his saxophone on that added a nice sleazy edge to the song. They then got a huge cheer as the opening notes of Don’t You Ever Leave Me came in as this Hanoi Rocks classic always goes down a storm and Michael’s Harmonica playing on it sounded great Too.
Malibu Beach Nightmare was played just about as quickly as they could with just enough time for a cool sax break or two as Sami Yaffa gave it his all. Just about everyone in the Academy then sang along to Creedence Clearwater Revivals Up Around The Bend a song Hanoi Rocks long ago made their own and this version was very much in the Hanoi Rocks spirit.
Michael made sure to introduce the band as they launched into Dead Jail Rock & Roll the storming set closer that had loads of microphone twirling and running around to make sure we all knew how great a set they’d played like usual and to make sure they left us wanting more, of course we did.
The encore opened with Michael holding a glass orb light to give another effect as he sang Low Life In High Places and once more gave a shout out to the new album One Man Gang before they roared into the old Demolition 23 classic Nothin’s Alright that led into a storming version of Hammersmith Palais, Demolition 23s great tribute to a now long lost London venue and things have never been quite the same since it went.
They then closed the night with a good long version of The Stooges 1970 (I Feel Alright) that started slowly with Rich Jones and Steve Conte trading guitar licks and breaks and then included Michael climbing into the crowd and singing part of the song standing on one of the bars and a break down into Radar Love and a good harmonica break or two to make sure they left us wanting more from one of the highest octane rock bands around.
Live Review by Simon Phillips & Photography by Trudi Knight of Michael Monroe, The Dogs D’Amour & Electric Eel Shock Live at O2 Islington Academy on 30th October 2019