12 April 2019

Mike Tramp – Gig review – Black Heart Camden , London – 10.04.19

Stray from the flock is the 11th solo album release from Mike Tramp, the front cover shows Tramp wearing a leather jacket standing next to an old motorbike on an unmade road backdropped by a big moon and sky .The scene has a sense of escape , release and looking back ,was it a dead end ride ? The parallels of the picture and his career are recognisable , the bike’s number plate is 19 but the bike is vintage  , the big moon and angry sky ark back to days gone by? The  ex-White Lion and Freak of Nature front man has gone from 80’s MTV arena favourites with the former to playing solo on the club circuit. He does this not as a need-to-do has-been but as a man with a passion to perform and with stories yet to tell. He yearns for the past but does so looking forward, he is a story teller of my generation.

The Black Heart is an edgy dark attic club above a rock pub in the heart of London’s Camden Town and is tucked behind its more famous neighbour The Underworld . It has its own charm and the space was ideal for tonight’s acoustic show. The sound was good , the beer upstairs expensive and the obligatory ignorant wanker at the back talking through the set as always raised temperatures. However , Tramp walked onto the stage at 8pm exactly and for a man close to 60 he looked good , he looked really good. Spiked hair, toned tattoo sleeved arms shown off by the leather sleeveless jacket and the uniform of all rockers, blue jeans. His voice is still as good as it has ever been ,the high notes may not be so high , but as I said , he is close to 60 so give the Dane a break. The crowd numbers started low , maybe due to the early start but were close to double when he finished 2 and a bit hours later. He was armed only with an acoustic guitar , a backing track and lots of stories to tell, a smoke machine occasionally came into life which seems unnecessary . The anecdotes were humorous covering tales of debauched youth, settling differences with Vitto Bratta , personal tragedies and touring woes.  Tramp’s appeal to many is that he writes songs that speak the truth of growing older , he uses the 3rd person cleverly , maybe it’s a defence mechanism or maybe I am thinking too deeply. Tramp’s lyrics are of a man of his time hankering for times gone by, the memories of youth and discovering music for the first time. I laughed out loud when he paraphrased the lines , did you queue for your ticket through the ice and snow, did you read the music paper from the back and to the front, did you find out where to see your favourite band from Saxon’s Denim and leather. But this was genuine, it meant something at the time to us all, it still does. He feels sorry for the youth of today who don’t understand what the attraction to music was 40 years ago and still can be, but maybe we are all dinosaurs , time does move on.

White lion were not afraid of writing songs that didn’t involve partying, drinking or shagging , the set opener was about the Rainbow Warrior , the Greenpeace ship sank by the French government in 1985 and the following 17 tracks spanned his career from 1983’s Broken Heart to his newer material ,the clever and at times sentimental writing shined through best with Cobblestone Street (title track 2013 LP) , Homesick and Dead end ride (SFTF).

There is a true sense of affection and appreciation from the artist to his public, this was reflected when he mingled with the crowd at the end of the set. Tramp has played a very clever card, either by fault or design by going solo , as it has given him the freedom to write songs unshackled by the dynamics of a band and to be able to play live to much smaller but dedicated numbers for (I hope) many year to come.

Mike Tramp is not a poet , he isn’t really a rock star in the true sense , however he is a thoroughly decent guy who has been there, done it and survived. He has a talent for writing music that touches the soul of those who understand, and there are still enough of us around that do.

Set List

  • Little fighter

  • Give it all you got

  • Hungry

  • Bow and obey

  • Better off

  • Tell me

  • Need

  • Homesick

  • Broken Heart

  • Cobblestone street

  • Candle

  • More to life than this

  • Lady of the valley

  • No Closure

  • Wait

  • When the children cry

  • Dead end ride

  • Farewell to you



Gig Review by Skid – MMH Radio DJ

PHOTO is of Mike Tramp and MMH Radio DJ Tony Heare taken in Swansea on 06.04.19 , used with permission. Follow the link to hear the interview.



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