Oct 1, 2011

Michael Monroe - Sonar

By Bob Suehs

www.rocknrollexperience.com

MICHAEL MONROE

October 01, 2011

Baltimore, Maryland



I'll point out the obvious little fact that my simple mind found amusing.....this show took place on 10/01/11, the date means nothing, I simply found it amusing how it was all "1's" & "0's" in the date.

The night actually started off with 2 local bands that did a decent job offering up Baltimore based glam rock & The Factory were 2nd on the bill. Ronnie from KIX plays guitar for that band and The Factory were good; they played spirited New York styled old school rock n roll ala New York Dolls with the exception that The Factory can actually play very good & I was quite impressed at the end of the night when the guitarist for The Factory pulled me aside & told me he read my reviews on the Metal Sludge boards & enjoyed my stuff. I actually had 2 people at this show tell me they read my reviews on Metal Sludge & it was pretty funny to get recognized from a few postings I did on that message board...it goes to show you the power of the internet & just how many people really do read stuff online, especially Metal Sludge!

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Welcome To Glam-sterdam! That was what I thought when Michael Monroe took the stage with his platinum blonde hair, tanned hairless skin & over the top glam rock presence!

The stage Monroe & his band played on was tiny but it was the perfect fit for a rock show that I'd best describe as a pure rock n roll orgy of sound & energy...the energy on that stage bridged the gap between punk rock & excessive sleaze rock & what I am getting at is that there's few artists in this era that deliver such a strong, kick ass, in your face performance like Michael Monroe & his band did on this night!

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This was night #2 of their Fall US tour & the set list was mostly MM solo material with a few Hanoi Rocks gems tossed in towards the end of the night.

Stage left was where Steve Conte was & he had his own side of the stage while Sammi Yaffa & Dregen shared stage right & there was so much energy on that tiny stage that at times you'd see members running into each other, chords were getting tangled & mic stands fell over & into the crowd!

This band was really meant for a larger stage but seeing them play on a small stage is simply amazing! If you go to see this band on their current tour you will leave the show a happy rock fan because they give you your monies worth & they not only sound amazing but they are entertaining as hell!

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I found a good spot infront of Steve Conte where I stood all night & my only problem with the show was that from where I stood I could not hear Monroe's harmonica playing that well but I will assume that other spots in the venue had a better mix than where I was up front.

"Dead Jail or Rock N Roll" was the song that made the crowd start pumpin' their fists, pogo-ing & going crazy & at the end of that song the band seemed a little confused with how to end the song....there was so much jumping around onstage that I wasn't sure if they ended it the way it was meant to be or they just ended it in a haste & walked off stage but it looked like a big rock show regardless of what it was, it was a kick ass ending for the first set & it set the pace for the bands 3 song encore.

During the encore the band did a small jam of "Radar Love" by Golden Earring & "Taxi Driver" had so much groove, so much power, so much passion....holy sh*t it was like a rock n roll orgasm onstage...it was sleazy, it was dirty & you really don't get that sorta thing with bands these days!

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I will say that Michael Monroe is like taking the picture of Iggy Pop from the Raw Power record & blending it with the best parts of Mick Jagger & Steven Tyler to create the ultimate glam rock frontman!

Watching Monroe onstage you realize just how much early Vince Neil & early Sebastian Bach (Skid Row) really borrowed from Michael Monroe...I think Sebastian Bach owes a HUGE wealth of debt to Monroe because watching Monroe onstage, his presence, his attitude, his looks, his demeanor...Bach really did learn alot from Monroe as did all the glam bands...Michael Monroe is the godfather of glam & if you really want to take it all the way back Little Richard is probably the father of early glam & you can see where Monroe borrowed from Little Richard as well.

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Dregen is an interesting musician...I actually like his spiderman head tattoo that's on his elbow & I wasn't quite sure what kind of hair style he had, it looked as if he had random long pieces of hair here & there ala Edward Scissorhands haircut...what I will say is that I was really glad I did not stand on his side & it's because the man sweats buckets o' sweat & when you watch him he's drippin' his sweat all over the poor people in front of him & I won't even sugar coat it, that's just gross because he looks dirty!

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The interesting thing about Monroe's backing band was the duality between the 2 guitarists; Conte is a rock player, his sound was sharp, his leads were clean & the guy looks alot like Steve Stevens from Billy Idol's band while Dregen's appearance is grimey looking, his playing is a little more loose & dirty and he seems to bring a not more of the punk rock vibe to the stage. There were times when Dregen's guitar sounded lost in the mix while Conte's was constantly the loud, clear one & again, this could have just been because of where I was standing but what I heard through the monitors onstage sounded like Conte's guitar was the loudest in the overall mix.

The rhythm section keeps it all in the pocket and I can't really say anything bad about Yaffa & Karl Rosqvist, they do their job of anchoring the backbone of the band very well.

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There's one fact that is undeniable...Michael Monroe is a kick ass rock n roll front man & it's really sad that he didn't achieve the success that AXL Rose did because Monroe is honestly a nice guy on & off stage, he was happy to be there, he didn't seem to care that the room was small & dank, he greeted fans before & after the show and he seemed very genuine & sincere both onstage & offstage.

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To show how kind Michael Monroe truly is the man stood outside in the rain to sign autographs & take pics with a slew o' fans who waited to meet the man after the show...what I did laugh about was up until this night I'd never seen a rock star have his tour manager hold an umbrella over his head while he met fans BUT that's what Monroe did...he had his tour manager holding an umbrella over his head while he met fans & if you look at the very first pic in this review you can clearly see the umbrella over Michael's head in the pic I had taken with him!

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Set list for 10/01/11 show

Trick of the Wrist

Got Blood

Miracle

Motorvatin

Hammersmith Palais

'78

Nothin's Alright

Not Fakin' It

Superpowered Superfly

Bombs Away

Dysfunctional

Mystery City

Malibu Beach

Dead, Jail or Rock N Roll

I Wanna Be Loved

Taxi Driver

Feel Alright