MICHAEL MONROE Says HANOI ROCKS Reunion At His 60th-Birthday Concert Was 'Amazing'
September 27, 2022
Michael Monroe, who turned 60 in June, celebrated the milestone with a bang on September 23 at the Helsinki Ice Hall (Helsingin Jäähalli) in Finland. As the grand finale of the concert, the original lineup of HANOI ROCKS, one of Finland's most significant rock bands of all time, took the stage: Monroe, Andy McCoy, Sami Yaffa, Nasty Suicide and Gyp Casino. Prior to Friday night's performance, the quintet, which started a historic chapter in the world's music scene, was last seen on stage at Helsinki's Tavastia on July 27, 1982. The "support band" for the show for Friday night's concert was the reunited DEMOLITION 23. Led by Monroe, the band rose to great cult fame, although they only released one album ("Demolition 23") in 1994 and broke up shortly afterwards. This was DEMOLITION 23's first performance since the band's breakup in 1995.
At the 60th-birthday show, Monroe was mostly accompanied by his longtime band consisting of Sami Yaffa, Karl Rockfist, Rich Jones and Steve Conte. In addition to the original HANOI ROCKS lineup and DEMOLITION 23, several top musicians and artists who collaborated with Monroe over the years took the stage. The almost-three-hour-long concert allowed fans to hear many Monroe classics throughout evening. To top the event, the lights and visuals are designed by the internationally acclaimed worldwide phenomenon Mikki Kunttu.
Speaking to Rockfiend about how it felt to perform with the reunited original lineup of HANOI ROCKS at his 60th-birthday gig, Monroe said in part: "It felt great. It was amazing. It was a big undertaking, and I worked on it quite a while. And the setlist — altogether there was 37 songs, including DEMOLITION and the original HANOI lineup… The original HANOI lineup played nine songs, actually, in the end… The emotion and the feeling was amazing. The crowd had such a warm feeling of love and appreciation, and everybody had a great time. It was a real success, I must say. I felt really great about it. There was a lot of singing — 37 songs — and my voice held up good."
The setlist for the original HANOI ROCKS reunion was as follows:
01. Tragedy 02. 11th Street Kids 03. Oriental Beat 04. Boulevard Of Broken Dreams 05. Don't You Ever Leave Me 06. Motorvatin' 07. Malibu Beach Nightmare 08. Million Miles Away 09. Up Around The Bend (CREEDENCE CLEARWATER REVIVAL cover) (with all guests)
Monroe previously discussed the HANOI ROCKS reunion during a September 14 appearance on SiriusXM's "Trunk Nation With Eddie Trunk". Regarding how the gig came about, he said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "What happened was Sami Yaffa and Nasty Suicide were gonna be there anyway [for the DEMOLITION 23 reunion], since Sami is in my band playing the bass. I met with Gyp Casino, the original drummer from HANOI, in Stockholm last December when we were filming my documentary… [He is] a cool guy [and I have] nice memories [of playing with him]. And I invited him over to do something [at the gig]. And then Andy McCoy, he called me. He invited himself. He said, 'I heard you've got this 60th-birthday celebration. If I have time from my world tour, I may have time to show up and maybe I'll come and do 'Tragedy'.' [And I said] 'Okay. Whatever. Fine.' So then I started thinking about it. I said, 'Wow. That would be actually cool. All the guys will be there, the original lineup. Why don't we do a few HANOI songs in the end?' And then we were gonna have it as a surprise, and everybody agreed. This was the only way and the only time to do it, for the right reasons. Then Sami Yaffa told me one night, 'Are you sure you don't wanna let people know ahead of time? Because if fans find out about this later on afterwards, they're gonna be pissed off.' So I said, 'You're right. We should let people know.' The Ice Hall in Helsinki was already over half sold out, but then we had this press conference, and I had Gyp Casino come over too — all five of us — and it was fun. It was surreal to be with everybody right there — all five of us together — after 40 years. It was amazing. It felt really cool, actually. It was fun. And we announced that the end of the show will be the original lineup doing a set of HANOI songs. The next day, it was all sold out and everybody wants to be there."
Asked if he thinks there is a chance that this HANOI ROCKS reunion will lead to a full tour or more shows, Michael said: "No. [Laughs] No. This will be just one time — this one time."
When host Eddie Trunk pointed out that other reunion tours had materialized in the past after what were initially supposed to be one-off gigs and that Michael should "never say never," Monroe quipped: "I say 'never say never say never.' [Laughs]"
Monroe and McCoy founded HANOI ROCKS in the late 1970s and the band's original lineup was established in 1980. HANOI ROCKS, the first Finnish rock band to make an international breakthrough, recorded their first three albums with the original lineup: "Bangkok Shocks, Saigon Shakes, Hanoi Rocks" (1981),"Oriental Beat" (1982) and "Self Destruction Blues" (1982). Casino was replaced in 1982 by Nicholas "Razzle" Dingley who became an integral member of HANOI ROCKS. Razzle died in a tragic accident in 1984. Unfortunately, this led to the band's untimely demise in early 1985.
HANOI ROCKS did reform once before in 2002, albeit with only Monroe and McCoy from the band's classic lineup, and released a comeback album, "Twelve Shots On The Rocks". The reunion lasted until 2009.
In a 2019 interview with Duke TV, Monroe stated about the band's "rebirth" two decades ago: "It was not planned. It just happened. I would never do a reunion to cash in on the reunion, so to speak, to cash in on the old name. It was interesting for me to see what we could accomplish with Andy because he had learned to respect my songwriting abilities, which he didn't in the past. It was cool to see what we could do. We had some old Ideas, like from 1984, that we had left over, that I remembered, that we reworked and made into songs. Then it started slipping into the same old 'you'd be nothing without me' and all that shit. I was, like, 'Are you sure you want to start this? Let's do some farewell tours.' I was ready to commit to that for the rest of my life if it had continued being fun, but it came to a point where it wasn't fun anymore, so I called Andy and said, 'Let's put this thing to bed.'"
He continued: "After that, I haven't seen him. We haven't had much to do with him, unless it was business with HANOI or something that has to be taking care of, our name in the paper — fine; we'll deal with that. Obviously, we're not the best of friend-friends, not like with Sami. Sami, Nasty and me had this bond that was created in the first half of a year of HANOI ROCKS when we started living in the streets of Stockholm homeless. That made us had this street gang kind of vibe. Us against the world, looking out for each other."
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