Review + Photos by Frank Ralph

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It’s blatantly obvious that Michael Monroe plays every show as if he were headlining it, and it’s fantastic to watch. The high energy rock and roll is brought to life through his stage antics whether he’s high kicking his way through a song or he’s lowering himself into the splits to pose for the crowd – something he does far too easily for a 56-year-old.

The whole set is a feel good, raucous expression of rock and roll and Monroe even scales the speakers to take a walk around the balcony, so he can perform up close for the dozen or so people sat up there. Dead, Jail or Rock n’ Roll is a killer tune and one he spends most of his time in the crowd for. A truly exhilarating performance to kick things off tonight.

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Michael Monroe

MC5 were a massively influential band predating and inspiring the New York punk scene with their blues infused garage rock. A fact evidenced by the calibre of the all-star collection of musicians who have joined original member Wayne Kramer to play this 50th anniversary tour celebrating their music.

It an embarrassment of riches with member of Zen Guerilla, Soundgarden, Fugazi and Faith No More on stage together, kicking out the jams.

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The 70-year-old Wayne Kramer defies his age. Bounding about the place like a man half is age and smiling his way through every song. Ramblin’ Rose and the massive Kick Out The Jams get everything going. The latter being an anthem and ethos held dearly by anyone that’s ever got together in a garage with their friends to play music.

The absolutely trippy as balls Starship (a Sun Ra cover) is probably the most leftfield song they play. A free form jazz exploration with abrasive squeals and cosmic landscapes it sounds like what taking the bad acid at Woodstock might have felt like.

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Zen Guerilla frontman Marcus Durant who is reminiscent in a way of original frontman Rob Tyner has bags of soul and can highkick in manner a man his size shouldn’t be able to. If they made Blues Brothers today he’d surely be a shoe in for a major role.

Faith No More’s Billy Gould and Fugazi’s Brendan Canty combine to create a powerful rumbling undercurrent to Soundgarden’s Kim Thayil and Kramer’s sonic soundscapes and as the two have a guitar off and share a fist bump, I can’t help but think to myself (as a huge Soundgarden fan) how great it is to see Kim back onstage performing.

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As Michael Monroe joins them for the final 3 songs it rounds off an incredible celebration of some of the most raw and powerful music ever recorded and it’s unbelievable to think that these songs are 50 years old they sound so fresh.

See the complete photoset from tonight’s gig here.

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