There are days when you think that the music industry is full of plastic wannabes. The fame-hungry, reality show hopeful/hopeless cases who think that their “career” will be over if they don’t make it on to the live show – the “lifetime” ambition left in tatters at the feet of a panel of “experts”. Then there are days like today! Where you meet someone who has been there, done it, bought the t-shirt and then decided to do it again and again. From his days fronting White Lion through to the post-hair metal Freak of Nature and then onwards to solo work and more, Mike has gambled his life and given his heart and soul to rock n roll, Tramp is philosophical when pondering what rock n roll has given him in return. “To me it is my lifestyle, a pair of glasses that I view life through, a pair of boots that take me to where I want to go and a religion that allows you freedom to follow your heart and do what you want.” Mike Tramp – “a life of no limits, rules or compromises”.
Just prior to this intimate solo show (and he did mean solo – just Mr Tramp, one guitar and a microphone) Mike very generously spent some time talking to Rock-Zone UK. We started off by discussing the reasons for this change in performing style from the full band thing through to shared interests (yeah, I know – I have a thing for The Sweet…..so, it seems does Mike). He talked in glowing terms about the venue (you MUST visit The Railway at your next opportunity), his influences and his writing and whether we had seen the last of Mike Tramp fronting a full band. The full interview was 25 minutes long and I could quite happily have chatted with him for hours but, as I reminded him, he did have a show to perform.
As for the show itself, Mike hit the stage at the mystical hour of 9:40pm (those die-hard Railway-ites will know the magical power of this particular time slot) and then proceeded to play for two and a half hours without a break playing a huge array of back catalogue material from White Lion, Freak Of Nature and his solo albums, all delivered in the most pure and raw form.
Opening track “Cobblestone Street” allowed him to start as he meant to go on – taking the more introspected tone of the new album of the same name (reviewed by us here http://www.rock-zone.co.uk/2013/05/05/mike-tramp-cobblestone-street/ ) Mike quickly proved that he doesn’t need the safety net of a band to deliver the goods tonight. Taking the theme of change and growth discussed during the interview, “Cobblestone Street” poignently represents all of what the world of Tramp currently embraces – reflecting on and taking pride in the past of who he was and what’s been done but, even more importantly looking to the future.
Despite having compiled one, Mike freely admits that he doesn’t really follow a setlist – rather that he just does what feels right. “Rescue Me” and “What am I” are purely awesome delivered acoustically, mixed amongst “Wait” and “little Fighter” whilst new songs “Ain’t the Life I asked For” and ”New Day” come over perfect.
Not surprisingly to me (given the tone of our earlier interview) but clearly a fabulous surprise to some members of the audience, Mike is without doubt a consumate artist. He intersperses the undoubtedly great songs with stories from across his career (some blisteringly funny) and giving us insights into the mind of a very under rated singer/song writer. Clearly angered by the news of the day before’s incident in Woolwich, Mike dedicates a song “The Soldier Never Started the War” to Lee Rigby. The ultimate White Lion song “When the Children Cry” has the audience singing along to complete this triumphant evening.
Rock and roll has always been about the fun of the show. Too often this gets confused with needing the explosive impact of a full band show, tonight was a truly remarkable thing – a full on rock and roll show stripped down to the barest of bones. Would that ALL gigs had this level of power and passion.
Interview & Review by David Wilson
Photographs by John McGibbon Photography