If someone had told me prior to this evening that I would get to witness Michael Monroe a mere 5 miles from my house in the, ahem, glamorous location of Porthcawl in Wales, I would’ve laughed in their face. However, a seaside rock rendezvous in a UK holiday camp is becoming quite the thing and after some initial scoffing I now see the appeal. For an ageing rocker, the allure of having a bunk-up with Ted Bovis in a chalet after watching some bands and having a skinful seems somewhat favourable over a tent in the British rain, especially when your bad back is caked in Fiery Jack.
There’s not much to interest me on this melodic rock bill tonight and as the sold-out signs went up before one of my favourite frontmen and his band had been announced, I managed a sneaky back door entry. Was I going to miss the ex Hanoi Rocks main man and his band playing just down the road? Was I hell!
Michael Monroe fans seem outnumbered by a hundred to one as the flamboyant frontman pounds onto the stage looking every inch the rock ‘n’ roll star. Dubious looks from middle of the road rock fans surround me, much to my amusement. What the band deliver for the first half of the set is a glam punk masterclass; hard hitting, speed driven rock ‘n’ roll. Focusing mostly on more recent material we are treated to a live outing of new(er) classics like Old King’s Road and Goin’ Down With The Ship. The head scratching from certain quarters on the arena floor quickly turn into head spanning smiles as Monroe balances on the monitors and barriers before climbing the speaker stacks. Further punk rock spirit is drilled home with a rip-roaring run through Hammersmith Palais by Demolition 23.
On introducing the band, Michael Monroe tells us that this is the best he’s ever had, and you know what? He’s right. Steve Conte and Rich Jones trade six string licks stage left, right and centre. Longtime bass comrade Sami Yaffa by Michael’s side always provides an uber cool tour-de-force with his barely visible eyes peering under the brim of his hat, and Karl Rockfist provides the ultimate rear guard, pounding those pots and pans like a man who’s drumming for the very last time in his life.
In the latter stages of the one hour set, Hanoi Rocks fans are in for a massive treat. It would’ve been late Hanoi drummer Razzle’s birthday yesterday and Don’t You Ever Leave Me is dedicated. At this point I think this punk rocker had something in his eye. The tribal beat of I Can’t Get It follows before crashing headlong into Monroe getting tangled in cables for a frantic version of Malibu Beach Nightmare.
Monroe now has those at the front eating out of the palm of his hand as the crowd sing back the final one-two of Up Around The Bend and Dead, Jail or Rock ‘n’ Roll. Before it’s started it’s all over and it’s time for me to wade through the crowd of those eager to take up a barrier spot for headliners Thunder. I haven’t got time for safe rock and their reported 6 hour soundcheck. I like my rock ‘n’ roll with a dangerous edge and on the point of falling apart at any given moment. Michael Monroe and his band of merry men delivered just that; energy, pomp, flair, punk and glam in the genre and age defying style that influenced bands like Guns N’ Roses and others that the Planet Rockstock crowd love.
For one night in a drizzly December, Porthcawl turned into the Mystery City. That’s right – PORTHCAWL! A night and a set that will live long in the distorted brain behind the dyed backcombed barnet of this dishevelled glam punk lover. Long live the real rock ‘n’ rollers keeping it real. Long live Michael Monroe… Ginge Knievil