Review by Martin Stanyer, photos by Lisa Billingham
It’s coming close to 6.40 and the first band take to the stage at the Institute Birmingham. Chase the Ace are young and talented. They play sleazy hard rock, a lot of moves and songs give cheeky nods to the 80s bands that obviously influence them. At first I was unsure if they could crack the crowd but the second track ‘Raise Your Glass’ certainly put any doubters (like myself) to shame; a fresh original song that will see them go far. During the last song of their set they unleashed two giant inflatable red balloons which were launched into the audience, this resulted in great participation and saw everyone having a good time. Certainly a band to keep an eye out for.
Hardcore Superstar take the stage from 19:35 – 20:55 Jocke Berg (vocalist) has the stage presence you can’t fake, the second these guys walk on you know you are in professional company. And wow is all I can say from beginning to end with Jocke making The Institute feel like Wembley stadium, pacing up and down the stage making sure that everyone felt special and connected. ‘Need No Company’ was a great addition to the set as was ‘Touch The Sky’. The songs are catchy, raw, attitude driven hard rock. One highlight is when they dropped down to an acoustic moment, showcasing Jocke’s vocal range who also had a laugh about trying to find the key to sing in.
There is an obvious bond between the band and they seem to have fun, this was reflected within the audience smiles everywhere. The fun bit was replacing the drummer with the roadie, as the houselights turned back on. There were encores for the last song and as drummer Adde Andreasson was rocking out his kit was being packed away, you get the sense these guys have a lot of fun on the road. Some cheeky shots during ‘Last Call For Alcohol’ and a bow to the audience topped off a great show (note this was more than just a gig it was a full rock n roll show).
Michael Monroe – need I say anymore? That name should resonate in your ears as loudly as the punk, glam rock that was provided. Kicking off just after quarter past nine with ‘78’ from the Sensory Overdrive album, the crowd went wild. You can take the boy out of 78 but you can’t take 78 out of the boy, Mike Monroe lapped up the attention. From interviewing him he said that his band were tight (a comment most people make) but he’s right, his band are tight and fun. Michael had tough work and a point to prove after how successful Hardcore Superstar went down, but he didn’t need to be Hardcore about anything he is a superstar and he showcased this by grabbing that saxophone and rocking out, writhing the stage like a man possessed. ‘Ballad Of The Lower East Side’ was played from the Horns and Halos album which kicked ass. If you haven’t heard it live, you’re missing out; energetic, shameless and fun.
A highlight from the show is the 90s classic ‘Man With No Eyes’, just sheer incredible, this was the kind of gig that wants to keep you drinking and partying. ‘Man With No Eyes’ reminded me of a Bowie number with the same passion and glam rock style. From the new album, Blackout States, ‘Old Kings Road’ was played and the band seemed happy to be playing new material. ‘Stained Glass Heart’ which is more of an anthem was given an airing, again from Horns and Halos, which had the crowd singing the ‘woah woah’ hook back to the band raising a few glowing smiles from the band members.
All band members were genuinely having fun with Rich Jones in particular really getting into the show. At one point Michael walked the barrier reaching out for fans to support his weight whilst he towered above the crowd, this also provided good interaction. Michael Monroe dished out ‘Dead Jail Rock ‘n’ Roll’ and got all fans at the front to sing in the microphone with him, including here your reviewer. This was rock n roll at its finest, and as the house lights went back on, I left feeling happy, and fully rock n rolled. When live music is good it’s fucking awesome and tonight that’s exactly what Michael Monroe and Hardcore Superstar were.