Michael Monroe/Hardcore Superstar, The Cathouse, Glasgow
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The Cathouse, Glasgow
Sunday 11th October

Johnny Main: Photos by Carlan Braid

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michael monroe
Michael Monroe

To be honest, I’d heard a lot about Hardcore Superstar but had never managed to catch them live before for various reasons, so I was quite interested to see how the band were live.

Walking into The Cathouse it was obvious that this band have pulling power in Glasgow as the large audience grouped themselves around the front of the stage as the band’s gear was set up.

Their set opened with the band casually sauntering on stage to (stunningly) loud applause, which is the universal signal for those ensconced at the back bar to make their way to the stage area – which they did in what seemed like one huge group.

By this point, the band were well into set opener, ‘Sadistic Girls’, with front man Joakim Berg bounding around the compact stage.

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The pace didn’t slow down as they continued with ‘Guestlist’ which had guitarist Vic Zino pumping out the rhythm guitar sound while the crowd gave a huge cheer as Berg stalked the stage like a man possessed, giving his performance absolutely everything.

hardcore superstar
Hardcore Superstar

‘Touch The Sky’ had drummer Magnus Andreasson laying down the beat whilst crowd happily clapped along with no encouragement at all required from the band. The song’s slower pace gave the band and audience some respite, but the start of Zino’s guitar solo is lost in the mix, so it looked good as opposed to actually sounding good!

‘Medicate Me’ brought the pace back up as a huge group of latecomers crashed their way towards the front of the stage. Bass player Martin Sandvik couldn’t hide how much fun he was having with his grin is a mile wide while Berg had the audience in the palm of his hand as he encourages them to clap along – and they don't need asking twice.

We’re treated to a couple of songs that band don’t play often according to Berg. The first of those was ‘Bully’, which had a small group down the front punching the air but it's not until the long instrumental section that the rest of the crowd really got into it.

It didn’t take Berg much to get up close and personal with the audience and every time he did, it elicited a surge towards the front of the stage as the crowd try desperately to press the flesh with him.

Berg announced that the next track was to be an acoustic number and as the guitar tech readied himself to swap instruments, he was stopped in his tracks by Zino who decided that he wasn’t quite ready to slow down the set that much, so the song was temporarily shelved and instead the band played a thundering rendition of ‘Wild Boy’, which is more than appreciated by the crowd judging by their reaction.

hardcore superstar
Hardcore Superstar

Once that was completed, it was business as usual as the appearance of some chairs onstage heralded the acoustic element of the evening with ‘Here Comes That Sick Bitch’, which Berg informs the enraptured crowd is another song they don't often play anymore.

With the chairs removed from the stage, Berg asks “Do you like punk rock?” to a distinctly mixed reception from the audience and as the electric guitars are strapped on one again and the band burst into the high octane ‘Don't Mean Shit’ which heralded the end of the band’s main set.

After a couple of minutes, they reappeared to a huge ovation and wasted no time kicking things back into gear with ‘Hateful’ - a super heavy number that has a myriad of mobile phones hoisted stage wards.

“Do you want another ballad?” asked Berg to another mixed response before they decided against it and jumped straight into ‘Moonshine’ which had the audience clapping along to the thundering beat from Andreasson.

Berg managed to wedge himself against the crowd barrier once again before retreating to the relative safety of the stage, just as the track comes to its triumphant conclusion.

Andreasson proceeded to punch out the beat as he's joined by thundering bass guitar of Sandvik during the intro to ‘Last Call For Alcohol’, which had the audience hoisting their glasses in the air as the shouted and (in some cases) screamed "last call for alcohol!" . “You guys are fucking awesome” commented Berg at the songs conclusion, and it’s really hard to disagree with that!

hardcore superstar
Hardcore Superstar

As the band neared the end of their set, they didn’t waste a second as they fired straight into the joyous ‘We Don't Celebrate Sundays’ which once again had the crowd punching the air and shouting along to the chorus. Either a lot of folk had the next day off work or there were going to be some huge hangovers the next day judging by the amount of full pint glasses raised during the chorus.

“Are you ready to fuck the law? " asked Berg to loud cheers as they wound up their set with ‘Above The Law’. Andreasson did his best here under difficult circumstances, in which his drum tech proceeded to dismantle the drum kit during the actual song – much to the amusement of the band and audience but ever the professional, Andreasson worked around it and never missed a beat.

It’s clear that Glasgow is a Hardcore Superstar bolt hole so expect them back sooner rather than later for a headline show off their own - and I'll lay bets that it sell out fast!

Hardcore Superstar Set List:
Sadistic Girls
Touch The Sky
Medicate Me
Dreamin' in a Casket
Into Debauchery
Wild Boys
Here Comes That Sick Bitch
Don't Mean Shit
Last Call for Alcohol
We Don't Celebrate Sundays
Above the Law

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Hardcore Superstar are:
Joakim Berg – Vocals
Vic Zino – Guitar
Martin Sandvik – Bass Guitar
Magnus Andreasson – Drums

michael monroe
Michael Monroe

A full quarter of an hour later than planned, the music on the PA was cut off and after a tense couple of minutes for the audience, the intro music finally started and the crowd let out an expectant roar as the band members finally made their way on stage.

Aware of the early curfew due to a club night later on, drummer Karl Rockfist got straight down to business with '78’ as Michael Monroe finally made his entrance on stage as he bounded on to a huge ovation from the audience.

Monroe has lost none of his fire or passion as he stalks the stage before balancing precariously on the drum kit and then doing the same on the crowd barrier like the true showman that he is.

‘This Ain't No Love Song’, was the first of a wide selection of numbers from his latest album, ‘Blackout States’, and had Monroe resting again on the crowd barrier as a tech runs on stage and frantically tries to unhook the microphone stand from the lead before Monroe snatched the stand back.

Another new track, ‘Old King's Road’, followed, and it saw Monroe encouraging everyone to clap along and, as seen earlier with Hardcore Superstar, this wasn’t an audience that needed asking twice, whilst Monroe took the opportunity to get up close and personal with the front row by settling himself down in the photographers’ pit.

Bass player Sami Yaffa looked to be having the time of his life judging by the huge grin on his face, before guitarist Steve Conte stepped up for his solo, which is barely audible in the mix unfortunately.

michael monroe
Michael Monroe

At the song’s conclusion, Monroe managed to knock the safety light from the ceiling above his head with his microphone stand which provided some amusement before he exclaimed “This place is falling apart!” and when the light dangles centre stage he added, “Seriously what the fuck am I supposed to do with this?” not seeing the funny side of it at all anymore.

The set continued apace with ‘Trick Of The Wrist’ after one of the crew removed the offending light, and had Monroe sharing vocal duties with Conte before Monroe strapped on his saxophone for the old Hanoi Rocks number, ‘Oriental Beat’.

The saxophone doesn’t stay on for long though as he’s having too much fun jumping around the stage. Giving himself a break, Monroe spends most of ‘Ballad of the Lower East Side’ kneeling down at the front of the stage, out of sight for anyone out with the first couple of rows of the audience, but the crowd happily sang along without any encouragement.

Eventually getting back on his feet, Monroe took another sojourn into the photo pit (thankfully bereft of photographers by this point) while guitarist Rich Jones gave his guitar solo everything.

‘Man With No Eyes’ is a somewhat moderately paced number compared to some of the other songs in the set, and had Monroe trading vocals with Jones. The microphone tech was certainly earning his money though, as Monroe picked up the stand before quickly discarding it at various different points during the hour long set, only for the tech to scramble onstage to pick out up and place it in front of the drums.

The pace picked up again with new track ‘R.L.F’ as Rockfist punched out the beat as the audience got another chance to sing along.

“Are we having fun yet?” asked Monroe but it seems that he’s not really. A tirade about the difficulties of finding the venue earlier and no-one they asked seemed to know where it was along with the incident with the safety light and a persistent hum on the vocals turn him a tad tetchy.

All of this is seemingly forgotten as they launch into ‘Hammersmith Palais’ with Monroe again taking a wander into the photo pit before precariously balancing on the crowd barrier, thankfully managing not to fall off. Seriously – I was genuinely expecting him to take a tumble into the audience at any point, but somehow he managed to get back on stage without incident.

‘Goin’ Down With The Ship’ is the last track aired from his new album, and the song is beset with an unidentified squeal from the stage, much to Monroe’s annoyance. It might be a new track but the audience were happy to sing along as Monroe gave one of his most animated performances of the night while the band held it together at the back.

‘Got Blood?’ saw Monroe give a more aggressive performance as he spat out the lyrics with venom but the crowd appreciated the performance with a loud cheer at its conclusion.

michael monroe
Michael Monroe

The big hitters were, of course, left to the end, with a double barrel shot of ‘Up Around the Bend’ and ‘Dead, Jail or Rock 'n' Roll’. The former had the venue jumping again as Monroe and Yaffa shared a joke before Jones and Monroe shared centre stage for the vocals whilst the audience seemed to be having their own party.

When it comes to the community sing-along, there seemed to be no-one in the venue whose not singing and clapping along. If that was the end of the gig then it would have been immense but they still had more in reserve as the clock ticked ever closer to the curfew.

The classic ‘Dead, Jail or Rock 'n' Roll’ had Conte sharing the microphone with Monroe and, again, there wasn’t one person wasn't singing along to the chorus and Monroe couldn't keep the smile of his face.

As the band disappeared off stage, the crowd waited patiently to see if they would return. With the venue’s curfew come and gone, it seemed unlikely but the audience patience was rewarded by one final number ‘1970 (I Feel Alright)', which was dedicated to Steve MacKay (saxophonist for The Stooges) who died the day before.

Monroe’s saxophone solo seemed more impromptu than anything, certainly judging by the bemused look on Yaffa’s face, but the crowd were savouring every last minute of the gig.

All in all it was a thoroughly entertaining evening, and it was a rare chance to see an icon of rock up close and personal. Sure things maybe didn't go quite a planned for him, but that's rock n roll for you eh?

michael monroe
Michael Monroe

Michael Monroe Set List:
This Ain't No Love Song
Old King's Road
Trick of the Wrist
Oriental Beat
Ballad of the Lower East Side
Man With No Eyes
Hammersmith Palais
Goin' Down With The Ship
Got Blood?
Malibu Beach Nightmare
Up Around the Bend
Dead, Jail or Rock 'n' Roll
1970 (I Feel Alright)

Michael Monroe are:
Michael Monroe – Vocals
Steve Conte – Guitar
Rich Jones – Guitar
Sami Yaffa – Bass Guitar
Karl Rockfist – Drums

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