MC50 / Michael Monroe Hot
Written by Central Electronic Brain     November 18, 2018    
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MC50 / Michael Monroe - Shepherd's Bush Empire, London (UK) - 12 November 2018

Unfortunately Michael Monroe was not well tonight. Having cancelled all pre-show press interviews, it was apparent from the very start that he had laryngitis and his voice was not at full strength. He must have felt terrible, but as a consummate professional he powered through the show with no impact upon the athleticism and energy of his show, not stopping to make excuses but choosing instead to win the crowd over with charisma and personal attention to the front row, and he pulled it off; the show was still exciting and engaging even without the best vocals and the crowd still went crazy for him.

Michael Monroe MC50 Live 1

He was still doing the splits, kicking higher than his head, pumping the mike stand into the air with one hand and balancing on the tight rope of the crowd barrier to get high in the air to address the crowd, and I did not hear any complaints. His band did what they could to help with duets (Rich helping with screams) and Michael got the crowd to help with singing from time to time.

Michael Monroe MC50 Live 2

Michael was truly being treated as special guest rather than support, only performing a few songs less than MC50. The set was mostly his solo career, as usual, and it is always a pleasure to me to see that recent album material is just as present in the set and as strong as anything he has ever done, being just as popular with audiences. Indeed, we only got two Hanoi Rocks numbers, 'Malibu Beach' and the Creedence Clearwater Revival song 'Up Around The Bend' which was a big hit for HR on MTV. We get two of the best Demolition 23 songs, 'Nothin's Alright' and 'Hammersmith Palais' which are regulars in the set. Highlights were 'Dead, Jail, Or Rock 'n' Roll' and the Nazareth song 'Not Fakin' It' which Michael has made his own.

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine For Melodic Rock Music

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The main act is dubbed MC50, celebrating 50 years of MC5. Wayne Kramer, who is looking sprightly, is the only original member, but has pulled in fine musicians, like Billy Gould from Soundgarden on bass, who are fans of the band to help with the celebration. Unsurprisingly, since it was used in the marketing, the 'Kick Out The Jams' album featured heavily, but it was a surprise that the title track appeared so soon, only the second song in the set.

Michael Monroe MC50 Live 3

Also surprising was the wild Space Rock, drug-influenced interlude late in the show which had my neighbours saying "you need to be on acid to fully appreciate that". I guess that was the jam being kicked out! Unsurprisingly, since the band have been going for so long, there were many other musical genres in the set, from Punk, Rock 'n' Roll, heavy Blues and a Doors-like sixties sound.

Michael Monroe MC50 Live 4

I have to confess, I was here for Michael Monroe and I was super-pleased when he joined for the encore to play the sax with a 'Baker Street'-style solo - what a trooper! Continuing a history of activism, Kramer's parting shot was to criticise the current American administration and urge the crowd to resist and vote to create a world that our children can live in and we can be proud of. It's a gig I won't forget for lots of reasons and I'm certainly glad I went.

Review and photos by Dawn Osborne

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