Michael Monroe - Electric Ballroom, London
"I ain't had no fun in London since the Hammersmith Palais" sang Michael Monroe in 1994 on the album Demolition 23, but he seemed to have changed his mind by the end of his set, the final UK stop on a jaunt with Swedish rockers Hardcore Superstar at Camden's Electric Ballroom writes Belle Jones. Best known as the voice of Hanoi Rocks, Monroe – a noted influence on Mötley Crüe and Guns N' Roses – started his career when he and his band moved to London in 1982 (including bassist Sami Yaffa who still plays with him now). Some 33 years later, and backed by a veteran phalanx of rock royalty, his latest tour is in support of his 10th solo album Blackout States.
Kicking off the show, Hardcore Superstar served up favourites like 'Moonshine', 'We Don’t Celebrate Sundays' and 'Into Debauchery' along with their more recent 'Touch The Sky'. Delivering an accomplished set of high-powered hard rock gems, the adoring audience laps it up eagerly.
What’s so great about seeing Michael Monroe is you get a bit of the old and a bit of the new, but never the same each time. Even at 53 he delivers a high-energy set, complete with scaffolding-scaling, crowd surfing and even the splits! Starting off with '78' from the Sensory Overdrive album before throwing in favourites 'Malibu Beach' and 'Dead, Jail or Rock N Roll'; he even ends with a cover of Johnny Thunders' 'I Wanna Be Loved'.
There's an appropriate nostalgic air at the Ballroom, which has been serving up live music for over 70 years, as Monroe harks back to his aforementioned London years with tracks like 'Old Kings Road' from his latest. Fitting then that this was chosen as the venue, having been comparatively unscathed by the wave of "gentrification" sweeping its way through the capital.
I caught his set a couple of years at the much newer, smaller O2 Academy Islington, and while I enjoyed that performance at the time, the atmosphere of Camden's longest-running live music venue and it’s higher capacity really brought out the best in both the crowd and the band. In some ways, the whole show felt like a celebration that venues such as this are still alive and live music is still available on a Thursday night, providing you can successfully dodge the drunken tourists and NW1's own particular brand of street food.
All photos by Belle Jones