Having only seen Hanoi Rocks via well-worn VHS copies of All Those Wasted Years and The Nottingham Tapes the announcement of their return in 2002 was one that I welcomed. Sure, I'd seen Michael Monroe on a solo tour, Cheap & Nasty a handful of times and the Blonde & Blue show in 1993 that saw Monroe, Sam Yaffa and Nasty Suicide take the same stage (and given the current line-up of Hanoi Rocks this remains, numerically, the closest I've seen to a full reunion - for a detailed list of Hanoi-related projects see http://pilleri.spt.fi/~jukka/hanoi3/common/downloads//line_ups_list.txt).
The first date I caught was at the Bristol Bierkeller, a former stamping ground of mine that I hadn't been to in at least a decade. In the late 80s and early 90s this was a staple venue on the rock circuit but in an inauspicious start to the evening we saw Michael Monroe on his mobile phone, next to the multi-storey car park opposite the venue. Once upon a time the man would have mobbed but not tonight. Then inside Andy McCoy walked through the very limited audience - or rather hobbled through with a walking stick (presumably the result of his infamous fall from a window in the 90s).
First up though - and a real bonus - was the support band, the Diamond Dogs - a great rock & roll band in the mould of the Faces, who at the time featured Darrel Bath. Having been in awe of Jo Dog I'd perhaps never given Bath any real credit as a guitarist (and that includes his work with the CryBabys), but that all changed that night. My best intentions of picking up their back catalogue never made it beyond Black River Road, something I need to rectify.
Hanoi's perfomance was pretty muted - McCoy was rooted to the spot and there was no encore - but I left the venue reasonably satisfied, albeit without feeling any real need to see them again the following night at Camden Palace.
The difference between the two shows was stunning.
It would be easy to suggest that they'd been able to acquire certain substances in London that had evaded them in Bristol. More likely it was simply the greater buzz that filled the packed-out venue. Either way Andy McCoy played like a man possessed, filling every inch of the stage. Eveything was delivered with far more conviction and passion than the Bristol show. In an odd post-gig twist, a friend approached McCoy by the stage door and got an autograph; they started to chat until Mrs McCoy led him away towards some Japanese girls, 'your real fans' as she put it ....
Hanoi Rocks - The Nottingham Tapes
Hanoi Rocks to split
Sloppy seconds and filthy thirds