Gramercy Theater in New York
19 February 2016
Words by Sebastian Bjorn Benedict | Photos by Anya Svirskaya
Iconic sleaze rocker, Michael Monroe, rolled into New York City’s Gramercy Theater with a body of work that covers over 40 years of pure rock and roll. Monroe, the founder of Hanoi Rocks, has a huge cult following and has had a direct influence not only on bands like Guns-n-Roses, Poison, LA Guns, and Skid Row, but also groups like Nightwish, Sonata Arctica, and Turisas.
The audience was an extremely diverse crowd, with people coming in as far as the U.K to catch the Finnish bad boy. He opened up with “This Ain’t a Love Song” from his most recent album, “Blackout States,” which dropped in October 2015. The follow up song, “Old King’s Road,” from the same record, reminded us who does it best within this genre, and who is unquestionably the most influential. Monroe, who seemed to have discovered the fountain of youth, showed the audience that it takes more than pretty clothes to be a true rockstar. Sprinting across the stage throughout the night, he exudes the swagger and attitude that places him up there with the likes of Steven Tyler and Iggy Pop.
Monroe’s more recent music drips with just as much energy and swagger as the classic cuts from his early discography. Things are different today, yet Monroe pays homage to 1980’s New York with the song “Ballad of the Lower East Side” from his 2013 Horns and Halos record, and has the audience reminiscing of the city’s good ol’ bad days and the “apple in decay.” The songs he delivered from his Hanoi Rocks period and his Demolition 23 project were a perfect reminder of his stay in the “city that never sleeps.” The set included songs from his Blackout States album, such as “Goin’ Down with the Ship,” and “Dead, Jail, or Rock ‘N’ Roll” from Not Fakin’ It.
He covered songs from his peers as well, such as “Love Song” and “Machine Gun Etiquette” by The Damned, followed by The Dead Boys “Ain’t Nothin’ to Do” and “I Wanna Be Loved” by The Heartbreakers. He even through in some Creedence Clearwater Rival with “Up Around the Bend,” proving that a good song is where it’s at. He closed the night with a heartfelt “Under the Northern Lights” and the Hanoi Rocks classic, “Malibu Beach Nightmare.”
Michael Monroe is truly one of the last of this breed of vocalists. Albums like Not Fakin’ It, Horns and Halos, and the current Blackout States, are a must to own. In the meantime, Monroe is winding down his North American appearances and is ready to embark on a tour of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden.
No doubt we will see him in the states again soon.
Legendary rocker Michael Monroe performed at the Gramercy Theater in New York, NY on February 19, 2016.