Gig review: MIKE TRAMP – The Star Of Kings, London, 22 May 2013

 

Mike Tramp seems to be the embodiment of the old adage that you can’t buy happiness. He enjoyed two US top 10 hits and stadium tours as lead singer of White Lion, who I and many others thought were poised to follow Van Halen, Bon Jovi and Def Leppard into the stratosphere in the latter part of the eighties.

However he now seems more genuinely contented, touring small pubs and clubs, carrying his own guitar case and making himself available to chat with fans.

Sadly for his second London show at this venue in six months, the turnout was very disappointing, although from talking to people in the days afterwards many did not know the gig was even on and the challenge has to be to get a more proactive promoter next time.

As a bonus the petite figure of rising Swedish star Mia Klose provided support backed by two bandmates. She played an excellent set of tracks both from debut album including Mama which had a country ish feel in its acoustic setting and the mega commercial Never Too late and new song Living for Love before taking Skid Row’s I Remember You and making it her own.

The format was the same as on Mike’s previous visit- just him and acoustic guitar in a dimly lit corner of the basement with a bunch of loyal fans seated almost within touching distance.

However this time he now had new product to promote in his new album Cobblestone Street, starting with the autobiographical title track about growing up in Denmark. He mixed a few other songs such as Revolution with humorous if world weary anecdotes.

 

The majority, myself included had come most of all to hear White Lion tunes and he obliged, but the overall theme of the evening was that he never enjoyed those days and was a Dylan/Springsteen-eseque troubadour trapped inside a hair metaller’s frosted hair and stripey spandex.

Indeed the likes of Cry for Freedom and the night’s surprise White Lion pick, All the Fallen Men from the Fight to Survive debut- showed that he had a lyrical depth beyond most of contemporaries,  while he cringed at  the Kiss-inspire double entendres during a rendition of Hungry.

He even gave a rare airing of the epic Queen meets Zeppelin fan favourite Lady of the Valley, joking at the huge hole left in the middle by Vito Bratta’s guitar solo on the original.

There was also a good smattering of songs from Freak of Nature- Rescue Me, What Am I- and his earlier solo albums including Better Off and Endless Highway, before ending with a trio of White Lion classics- Wait, Broken Heart and Little Fighter. Frankly, the acoustic arrangements suit his voice in its now lower register and work far better than the new version of White Lion he put together a few years ago.

In the time it took for him to take a sip of Guinness, he was back with the brilliant, Neil Young esque  More to Life Than This before, after teasing with a snatch of Every Rose Has Its Thorn, he closed an hour and 50 minute set with the peace anthem and massive US hit When the Children Cry.

When he next comes back to England, shed any hair metal preconceptions and, as with Kip Winger, enjoy the songwriting craft of a very singular talent.

Review and photos by Andy Nathan


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