Michael Monroe @ Caribia Areena Åbo, 06/12/2013
When Dregen announced on 26th September 2013 on the facebook profile of the Michael Monroe Band that he won't be able to tour with Michael Monroe for the rest of the year 2013, in order to tour with his own solo project, one comment was that this would be "lame" and that the "Michael Monroe group is just not the same without Dregen". An amusing comment, actually, considering that the former guitarist of The Hellacopters and current guitarist of Backyard Babies started to serve the guitar in Michael Monroe's band just two and a half years ago. As a temporary substitute, Rich Jones - known as the guitarist of The Loyalties and The Ginger Wildheart Band - has been hired. Furthermore, today's show is a home game for the band since Åbo [in Finnish: Turku] is the hometown of the former Hanoi Rocks frontman Michael Monroe. And on top of that, "Finlands självständighetsdag" [Swedish for: "Finland's Independence Day"] is celebrated today in the land of thousand lakes.
Despite all these brilliant conditions, "Caribia Areena" isn't even half-full tonight. One reason for that could be the size of the venue: While the regularly sold-out club shows in Finland have a capacity of around 700, the concert hall of the "Sokos Hotel Caribia" has space for approximately 2700 people. At the same time, the ticket prices have been raised by almost double, from about 20 € to nearly 40 €. It looks like there were certain hopes that Michael's role as a judge on the talent show "The Voice Of Finland" would lead to increased sales of concert tickets. Well, those who purchased a ticket for tonight's show, surely won't regret it...
The concert begins rather unspectacular with the usual intro where wild drummings - accompanied by strobe lights - turn into an instrumental composition taken from the "Kill Bill" soundtrack. Only the new backdrop - which is hoisted during the intro - reveals that there is something new to see and especially hear tonight. And, indeed: After the band members have entered the stage, the show starts with "Horns And Halos", the homonymous title track of the brandnew album. At the beginning, it's maybe just the joy over the new, fresh material - but this joy rapidly turns into real enthusiasm. Not only that the tracks of "Horns And Halos" are obviously rockier, heavier and contain more Sleaze than one would expect from Michael Monroe. With the aforementioned opener, "TNT Diet", "Eighteen Angels", "Ballad Of The Lower East Side", the current single "Stained Glass Heart", "Soul Surrender", "Child Of The Revolution" and "Saturday Night Special", the band plays almost all songs from the record which had gone straight to the top of the Finnish album charts and earned gold status already four days after its release.
Also with "Trick Of The Wrist", "'78", "Got Blood?" and "Modern Day Miracle" from the previous album "Sensory Overdrive", the setlist is kept more up-to-date; the usual classics like "Motorvatin'", "Hammersmith Palais", "Malibu Beach Nightmare", "Dead, Jail Or Rock'n'Roll", "Nothing's Alright" and "I Wanna Be Loved" are played towards the end of the gig respectively during the two encores. By announcing that he is going to play "Underwater World" instead of the well-tried "Taxi Driver" as a further Hanoi Rocks cover, Michael proves that he himself is not afraid of changes. A fact that is highly appreciated not only by my humble self but also by the rest of the audience who apparently found a new sing-along anthem with the first single from "Horns And Halos" - "Ballad Of The Lower East Side" - while my personal favourite is the surprisingly heavy "Soul Surrender".
To a large extent, the heavier sound on "Horns And Halos" is seen as an influence of the "new member" Dregen... Oh, right, Dregen! No sooner the Swede is not around, the spotlight is all Michael's. Just as it used to be in the past. Nowadays, you don't really know on whom to focus during the shows: Michael or Dregen? And although the competition isn't as tough as usual - due to Dregen's absenteeism - Steve Conte (Guitar), Sami Yaffa (Bass), Karl Rockfist (Drums) and backup guitarist Rich Jones completely pale beside the bandleader. The reason for that is unclear, but neither this nor the fact that the roadies appear quite often on stage to fix something derogate the concert experience at all. Quite the contrary: This is the meanwhile seventeenth time that I see Michael & Co. live on stage, and I must say that - from all those shows - I enjoyed tonight's gig the most. Especially in terms of the music. And this is not only based on the fact that the concert is finalised by "Love Song" / "Machine Gun Etiquette", one of my favourites which haven't been played for ages...
On that note: May the year 2014 come with more shows of Michael Monroe!
Website of Michael Monroe: http://www.michaelmonroe.com/site/
Author: Stefanie Singh / Photos: Adrian Nysand
Last Updated (Saturday, 14 December 2013 12:40)