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The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world
LIVE Mike Tramp The Snooty Fox Wakefield 24 May 2013 review






24TH MAY 2013



If music can uplift and inspire you then tonight was one of those nights and it came in the most unlikely of surroundings. Nestled between a high rise tower and the city, Wakefield’s Snooty Fox, looks like it is a building caught in the act of falling down. It’s a small room, it’s rough around the edges but to be honest it’s the almost perfect setting, and the people here are wonderful and love their rock and roll. Tonight’s show was also being live streamed to the world!



We’ve seen Mike Tramp live in many places and many situations over the years, be it in White Lion, Freak of Nature, or solo with or without a band when he used to live in Australia, but tonight is somehow different, Mike has always been warm and honest with his fans but tonight it’s at another level, it’s almost as if there’s a weight that’s been lifted off of him and he’s revelling in the freedom to do what he wants and to live his life. And to be honest I think that shows in his music. He’s also looking pretty good too, especially for a wet night in Wakefield.



With a promise that the evening will touch our hearts, Mike starts with the title track of his new album ‘Cobblestone Street’ and while that may not be what the majority of the room came for as the evening wears on it’s great to see that the crowd is completely won over by the new material. Indeed in this acoustic setting, all of the songs, whether they be white Lion, Freak of Nature or later solo material all have an undeniable quality and timelessness.



‘Cry for freedom’ is met with warm applause from a room, that judging by the t-shirts have been long time Tramp fans and you can’t help but believe Mike when he refers to us all as ‘family’.



The contemplative ‘Better Off’ and ‘Don’t Come Easy’ ease us in for a thoroughly enjoyable night, full of anecdotes and good and bad jokes about hairspray, wardrobes and wasted shampoo.





‘Ain’t the Life I asked For’ is one of many new songs tonight and like a lot of the material on Cobblestone street lays bare a lot of personal feelings, it’s an amazing song: a stripped back and heartfelt tale that tracks the start of a life of rock and roll. One of the best things about this evening is Mike between the songs, his jokes and the anecdotes especially. He’s glad that we’re seated to appreciate the songs and talks about how he never wrote anything autobiographical until Freak of Nature, a band he clearly has a huge amount of affection for. He tells us he’s happy and comfortable to be growing older and glad that we are all part of his journey before launching into ‘Rescue Me’ and ‘Need’ a couple of my favourites by Freak of Nature, and just as good acoustically and in their original form. At the end of the pair of songs he tells us that the Freak of Nature UK tour in 1993 has better memories for him than playing Madison Square Garden with White Lion, and you can’t help but believe him. For my money they were one of those bands that should have been so much bigger, if only the timing and circumstances had been right.  



‘Hungry’ brings back memories of the spandex days and frequent costume changes, something we’re categorically told won’t be happening tonight, and in-between that and a wonderfully warm rendition of ‘Tell Me’ we get a story about a triple bill with Motley and Skid Row and an interview with mainstream music press that we won’t spoil for you.   


‘Stand Your Ground’ from Rock n Roll Circuz second album is dedicated to the memory of Lee Rigby, murdered on a London street last week, and takes on even more poignancy as a result. White Lion’s ‘All the Fallen Men’ too brings home the reality of the world we live in.  


The second half of the night like the first, is a real joy: from new gems like ‘Revolution’ from Cobblestone street to the magnificent ‘Wait’ by White Lion, which when it comes to what was probably Vita Bratta’s finest guitar solo Mike asks us to imagine Vito at home in Staten Island. ‘Lady of the Valley’ starts with a ‘Scream for me Wakefield’ that raises a laugh and after a few quips about Premier league football and the fact that two German Teams will be contending the Champions League final at Wembley tomorrow it’s a procession of great songs till we close.



The heart-wrenching ‘We’ll be Alright’ another new song written for his children has lyrics that can’t help but connect and touch a nerve, and after a few quips about green stage lights only looking good on Lemmy he follows with ‘Happy Ever’ from his first solo album Capricorn.  



 ‘Broken Heart’ ‘The ten dollar song’ as Mike refers to it, and ‘Little Fighter’ the song that really set White Lion apart from their contemporaries, taking the Rainbow Warrior’s destruction in Auckland Harbour as its subject matter follows.


Without a curtain rise or fall we get to the encores. ‘More to Life Than This’ has to be one of my favourite songs and acoustically it’s one of those songs that stands out with its Wakefield friendly minor rewriting of the lyrics. ‘When the Children Cry’ of course raises the roof but the closing track from the new album ‘Once’ is simply stunning live. There’s thanks to everyone before the final song and news that the Tramp shop opens onstage shortly after, and maybe there’s even time for a pint.



‘This is not unplugged this is who I am’ Mike tells us and to be perfectly honest this could be the best we’ve ever seen him. But before he goes we get not just the ‘final’ song ‘Farewell To You’ but also a great heartfelt cover of Thin Lizzy’s Southbound, a song which seems to be written for him as we look down at the image of Phil Lynott on his forearm.   


Get out and see Mike Tramp this year, at the end of the show you’ll not only feel like you’ve been entertained and got your money’s worth, you’ll feel you’ve been let into the life of a great artist and welcomed as a friend for an evening. Or as Mike might put it you’ll feel part of the family.




words and images by Mark Diggins



LIVE REVIEW Mike Tramp The Snooty Fox Wakefield 24 May 2013