Rebellion Bar, Manchester, UK30th November 2017
By AJ Phink
Tonight is the opening night of a short UK by the legendary Michael Monroe, someone who I’ve always wanted to catch live, and as an added bonus he’s bought up and coming punk and rollers Role Models along for the ride. Sadly we arrive too late to catch anything meaningful from opening act Liberty Slaves, but the few tracks we do hear as we’re in the lengthy queue to enter the Rebellion Bar indicate they are a heavyweight rock ‘n roll act with all the attitude and swagger you’d expect from a band opening for Michael Monroe. The crowd in the venue is a mix of punks, rockers and glam rockers that pretty accurately reflects the legacy that Michael Monroe has left in his wake, those who only remember the heyday of eighties glam rock are in for a surprise as his solo career has reflected a harder edged punk influence and is closer to Motörhead or The Wildhearts, both of whom he has collaborated with.
But first up it’s the Role Models who are still riding high on the release of criticality acclaimed full length, Dance Moves, their third album in as many years. The Role Models kick off with Lie For Today and their mix of punked up rock ‘n roll clearly strikes a chord with tonight’s crowd, and it appears that the combination of Role Models and Michael Monroe may well be a match made in heaven. The Role Models manage to twist all the best elements of punk and rock’ n roll into their all too brief thirty minute set, in which they include material from all three of their full lengths. Tracks such as (I Broke My Back) Disappointing You sound better than ever, and for me the Role Models seem to deliver tonight’s set like it’s their own headline show, and had this been the case I’d have left a happy man such is the energy and quality of their set.
Tonight the Role Models played like their lives depended on it on a tour has afforded them the exposure they deserve, and if they continue like this then 2018 could well be their year. The material from Dance Moves fits seamlessly into their set, and as good as they are on record nights like tonight confirm that this is a band you really need to experience live. The Role Models have collectively lived the rock ‘n roll lifestyle and their songs reflect their experiences, as a result what you get is a genuine rock ‘n roll sound that embraces the New York punk scene, but with an attitude and sound that have made a smooth transatlantic crossing. They close their all too brief set with a supercharged This Eventually Leads Nowhere that confirms their status as one of the best bands out there.
Before Michael Monroe hits the stage it’s no surprise to see that the Jack Daniels is flowing freely at the bar, it would seem that some habits just aren’t worth changing, and the Rebellion Bar is at capacity for a rare intimate club show by a true original. Whilst the glam rock scene might have taken it’s image from Michale Monroe, many of the bands missed the point on the punk sensibility that accompanied the attitude, and as a result they have fallen by the wayside, whereas Michael Monroe has carried on doing what he does best with absolutely no compromise. He enters to the enigmatic strains Ennio Morrione and then kicks things off with sleaze punk of Demoltion 23‘s Nothin’s Alright, any preconceptions you may have had about a Michael Monroe show are well and truly trashed as the opening number owes more to the likes of the Dead Boys than it does to Hanoi Rocks.
Over the last few years we’ve lost many of what could be called rock ‘n roll outsiders and legends, but tonight’s set by Michael Monroe confirms that we haven’t quite lost all of them yet, he carries the stage presence of someone has lived the life and whilst the majority of the set owes a bigger debt to sleazy rock ‘n roll than the shows we at The Punk Site would usually cover, you just can’t deny a true icon and original when you’ve see one in the flesh. During his set he parodies the established rock ‘n roll cliches of those that followed in his wake and he delivers an energetic set that covers his entire back catalogue, from Hanoi Rocks through to Demolition 23 and across his prolific solo career. There’s a distinctly hedonistic feel that is carried throughout tonight’s show, something that has pervaded his entire career, and if you can fault tonight’s set then you just don’t love rock ‘n roll.
Thankfully Michael Monroe eschews the final encore ritual and just carries straight on through the night and until way beyond tonight’s curfew, of course this includes an amped up version of the Creedence Clearwater Revival classic, Around The Bend, that was one of Hanoi Rocks classic singles and this gets an approrpriately rapturous reception by the packed Rebellion Bar, and a finale of Dead, Jail Or Rock ‘N Roll and the Johnny Thunders classic I Wanna Be Loved keep the show going long into the night, and ends a perfect set that has run for the best part of two hours. Following his set escape from the venue was impossible until the capacity crowd is sure that his set has actually finally finished and that Michael Monroe has finally left the building. Tonight the combination of the perfect support slot from the Role Models, and the energetic career spanning headline set from Michael Monroe, means that tonight’s show was hard to fault on any level
Tonight’s sold out show by one of rock ‘n rolls veterans was something that you need to experience live, his band, including his long term partner in crime Sami Yaffa, has an authentic rock ‘n roll feel that was carried through the entire set, and this contributed to making this one of my favourite shows of 2017. The Role Models part in how much I enjoyed tonight can’t be underestimated, whilst they owe a debt to Michael Monroe they bring their own style with an adrenalized hybrid of power pop, punk and rock ‘n roll. As we finally head out into the freezing Mancunian night I’m left thinking that It’s not often you can say you saw a living legend, but I feel like that was what I experienced tonight, and you really can’t ask for much more from a cold and damp Thursday night out in Manchester.
Live photography is by Dean Unsworth, his Instagram account is located here, and you can click on any of Dean’s photos to view a slide show of the images
Michael Monroe‘s website can be found here
The Punk Site review of the Role Models’ Dance Moves album can be read here
Liberty Slaves Facebook page is located here