Word came in that Michael Monroe, longtime frontman for pioneering sleazo-glam-metal outfit Hanoi Rocks would be playing the Viper Room last Friday, in a rare LA show before heading out to SXSW.
As the mastermind of Hanoi Rocks, Monroe (born Matti Fagerholm in Finland almost 50 years ago) is the missing link between The New York Dolls-Stooges early 1970s and the quintessentially Sunset Strip glittergutter sound of Guns n Roses, Poison and the rest of the mid-1980s glammers. Though both Monroe as a soloist and his band were vocally championed by Axl and the others during their heyday, the vocalist hasn't had a show in LA in years and his return to the legendary Strip had potential.
Bottom line: Monroe, backed by a kick-ass band made up of Hanoi buddy Sam Yaffa and assorted New York Dolls sidemen, delivered an old-school, sweaty scorcher of a set that put the current line-up of GnR (and a few Slash side-projects) to shame.
Monroe is a dead-ringer for Beavis from the Mike Judge cartoon, and every couple of minutes he would go into rock n roll Cornholio mode, all grimaces, sincerely extreme emotions, and total commitment to the idea of the glam rock life.
Even squawking an amazing “Taxi Driver” during the encore under a sailor's hat (aka, Beavis/Cornholio morphing into Donald Duck), Monroe and his tight combo were silly, musically solid, funny, and 100% credible, all at once.
Think about it: when was the last time an Eastside/Pitchfork band made you feel all that?
[Awesome pictures from the Viper Room gig forthcoming. Meanwhile, enjoy some video from the less symbolic Redondo Beach show a couple of days later. Imagine what you see here but turned up to 11, and you'll get an idea of the ace Sunset Strip gig we saw.]
Hanoi Rocks back in the day:
Vintage solo Monroe: