Mr Rockbrat’s Heinekin-induced hangover has subsided, so it is now time to reflect on the Michael Monroe show from 24 hours ago in Tokyo. Kudos to Monroe, Ginger and Co. for touring here, because after the March 11th earthquake, many acts cancelled or have not scheduled shows at all. Tonight’s gig is at a venue called Studio Coast, located down near Chiba in the Shin-Kiba area. Unlike many other Tokyo live-houses this was an easy place to locate and about a ten minute stroll from Shin-Kiba station. The area is filled with offices and factories, so having a rock venue (which looked like a fish market) away from complaining residents makes sense. As with most things in Japan, things like buying merch are done in an orderly fashion. The 4pm open time slot for the merch area made me chuckle, when I think of the time in the 80’s me and the Cowboy would see bands who’d hit the stage at 4am ! So onto the show….Let me start by saying that your average Japanese rock soldier is not very discerning when it comes to personal taste. A good example of this is the way they seem to adopt and admire any long haired ‘dude’ with tatts, eyeliner and a low-slung Gibson. Case in point is opening act Hardcore Superstar. It’s a joke right ? I am going to refer to them as the ‘Sunset Strip Tribute Act’ because with zero originality and gutless songs, they are indeed one very hollow rock band. Oh sure they have ‘the look’ down pat, and could no doubt kick your ass, but they are so unoriginal and clichéd it’s hilarious. remember dear readers that as a youngster I was weened on the Malcolm And Angus, Rosie Tatts, Angels school of rock. The real deal. I’ve seen this type of schtick so many time before and frankly it bores the shit out of me nowadays. They look just like any one of those faceless bands on those Hard n Heavy VHS tapes from the late 80’s. The real tragedy is these dorks have managed to eek out a career from shamelessly aping the past. The two minutes I spent watching them were a waste of my time. Sure the kids were going apeshit – eating up the loud, sleazy stuff without a second thought. 120 seconds of the singer’s stage raps about ‘kicking Tokyo’s ass’ and acting all bad-ass made me wanna retch. To quote Rex Mossop ‘this guy couldn’t knock a sick girl out of a chair’. I also heard this turd drop the ‘scream for me Tokyo’ – something Bruce Bruce really shoulda trademarked. However some moments of humour surfaced when I spied their plump bass player – sporting a banana ! What is it with bass players and bananas on the bonce ? Looked like this pie-eater had devoured the band rider before the show as well and on closer inspection he could haunt houses. Enough said. I really dunno about the Swedish rock scene anymore . The mighty Hellacopters were a long, lifetime ago now and even they could at times be a one-trick pony. The ‘Sunset Strip Tribute/Comedy’ over with I found my way back to the bar and the overpriced Heinekin’s.
I spied a young Russian doll with a LAMF tee which made me recall the Thunders/Monroe friendship. Monroe grew up listening to the cool tunage and it’s always showed. He loves it and lives it and you can hear it in his vast back catalogue. He is the real deal. Full stop. A truly great front man and one of the last of a dying breed. You could probably say that he performs with the spirits of Thunders and Bators over his shoulder and in the live environment, Monroe always delivers the goods. The opening act and the headliner were like night and day, black and white etc. Monroe is adored here in Japan. I spoke to a couple of fans who kept on referring to him simply as ‘Michael’. I at first thought they were referring to the deceased, monkey-lovin moonwalker, but no, it was in fact the Finnish blonde. From start to finish the energy of this band is astounding. ‘Trick of the Wrist’ from his most recent album opened the show and kicked. Wildheart Ginger is top shelf and has propelled Monroe to another level. Although buzzed I can recall ‘Got Blood’, ’78’, the tough ‘Modern Day Miracle’ and an amazing rendition of ‘Superpowerd Superfly’ being aired. ‘Not Fakin It’, ‘Hammersmith Palais’ and 1984’s ‘Boulevard of Broken Dreams’ from his solo, Demolition 23 and Hanoi days were also cranked out. The classy duo of Sami Yaffa and Steve Conte are also essential ingredients to what is really a supergroup. With names like Hanoi, NY Dolls, Demolition 23, and The Wildhearts as your work references – you really do get more than your money’s worth and Mr Rockbrat absorbed every minute of this show – if only to savour the memory. Because when it’s this good, you wanna remember it forever.
A quick video grab of Michael Monroe during the set opener can be viewed here: