MICHAEL MONROE CAN’T GET ENOUGH OF SXSW
Show Date: March 17 – 21, 2010
Location: Austin, Texas
Venue: SXSW Music Conference
Reviewer: Wade Clarke
Band Websites: www.michaelmonroe.com – www.myspace.com/michaelmonroeofficial
Michael Monroe played SXSW in Austin Texas four times throughout the week. On Wednesday the 17th he played in between Voivod and Motorhead, a strange line-up indeed, on Friday the 19th he played at 3:30 in the afternoon at Rusty Spurs, on Saturday night he closed the show at Maggie May’s Rooftop and he finished the week on Sunday night at the Continental Club.
The band has changed a bit since the original line-up was announced in late January. Apparently Jimmy Clark had other commitments and was unable to continue with Michael Monroe while Todd Youth, who was replaced by Steve Conte, decided to join Ace Frehley‘s band.
Bassist Sami Yaffa, whose band Mad Juana played Saturday night and delivered a Gypsy, punk feel and was a lot of fun, is still in place to hold the original Hanoi Rocks quotient at 2 fifths. The inimitable Ginger is on guitar and singing backups. Steve Conte has stepped in on guitar to share time in two bands with Sami, here and with the New York Dolls, as well showing off his new band The Crazy Truth who played a Saturday mid day show at Rachel Ray’s party — they came on after a few other acts and proved to be the absolute highlight of the show, check ’em out if you get a chance. Karl ‘Rockfist’ Rosqvist of Chelsea Smiles and Danzig steps in on drums for Jimmy Clark.
I caught 3 of the 4 shows and they were outstanding from start to finish. Michael Monroe sounds and plays as strong as ever, and generally looks great and happy. He takes every opportunity to climb speaker stacks, or whatever is available, and ‘share’ the microphone with fans willing to sing along. The set lists varied a little for each show, but always included a couple of the Demolition 23 songs, one of them, “Hammersmith Palais”, is especially great sounding!The band are also playing a couple of new songs that blend in perfectly with the back catalogue. Of course Hanoi Rocks songs like “Motorvatin”, “Malibu Beach” and “Back To Mystery City” made appearances at every show. Hanoi Rocks fans will not be disappointed. Closing each show was Michael‘s solo hit “Dead, Jail Or Rock ‘n’ Roll”.
The Friday afternoon show included a guest appearance by Cheetah Chrome who joined in on a great cover of his Dead Boys song “Nothing To Do”. Possibly the best thing about these shows was just how happy they all seemed to be, even new members Steve Conte and Karl Rosqvist looked like they were having the time of their lives. It was amazing considering the band apparently only had about a week of rehearsals with this new formation prior to heading out on this little tour. Ginger, The Wildhearts legend in his own right, looked like he was dancing in the audience as a fan and singing along to his favorite tunes, he definitely wasn’t just a hired gun filling space. Sami Yaffa and Michael regularly demonstrated that connection of guys having spent decades sharing stages — laughing and sharing the mic. Sami seeming to just slide around Michael‘s swinging and spinning microphone stands like he’s been doing it for ages.
It was an amazing experience to watch a band that just killed it multiple times and looked so at ease in their respective skins — all the while beating the audience’s heads in with some of the best glam/rock/punk ever seen and heard. YouTube videos from these performances abound, but be warned, I have yet to see one that captured the sound very well. If you have any chance at all — go see Michael Monroe play live!