Friday March 21, 2014 brought a co-headlining, acoustic performance to Vamp’d In Las Vegas, Nevada.  Featuring John Corabi (The Scream, Motley Crue) and Mike Tramp (White Lion, Freak of Nature), the show was a satisfying evening of stripped down rock music.  For me, it was a last minute decision to go and I’m thrilled I did.

Admittedly, I was hesitant to check out John Corabi. As a die-hard Motley Crue fan, I never supported the album that he was a part of out of my misguided loyalty to the original Crue line up.

But, thankfully I’ve grown.  Corabi’s solo acoustic performance was impressive and overflowing with talent.

Sitting alone on stage, long hair brushing the top of his shoulders, ‘John Lennon glasses’ shielding his eyes, and sporting a full beard reminiscent of the late Jim Morrisson, Corabi looked decidedly more hippie than rock and roll.  I liked it.  The look worked for him and paired well with the toned-down acoustic performance.

I’ve attended many acoustic shows in the past that came off a bit more electric and plugged in, but this was not the case here.  One man, perched atop one stool, strumming an acoustic guitar, and not a single backing track.  The performance was stripped down in its most literal sense. Corabi came off as sincere, laid back, and completely at home on stage.

Playing selections from his solo album, The Scream, a bit of Aerosmith, and of course the obligatory, Hooligans Holiday, the set included everything any fan could ask for.

In between songs, he told stories that were in depth and genuine.  The intimate crowd at Vamp’d hung on every word in a most respectful and intrigued fashion.

I found Corabi’s performance heartwarming and heart breaking; positive and at times funny.  It was actually pretty emotional.  It might be difficult not to be in such a state given the vulnerable setting I suppose, but everything seemed very natural and not at all forced.

Musically, his guitar playing was perfect; melding warm tones and passionate fret work.  The vocals were instinctively strong and clear.  Corabi possesses a talent his longtime fans are well aware of, which I had previously been closed off to.

Following a short break, White Lion’s Mike Tramp, took the stage for a similar acoustic performance.

Still looking very much the rock star that he is, Tramp was alone, with only his guitar as well.  Unlike Corabi, Tramp did have some backing percussion on some songs, but it didn’t sound unnecessary and worked well with the selections.

At times I found myself closing my eyes to take in the full intensity of his voice. Thankfully it  was later justified when Tramp stated, “It’s OK to close your eyes; don’t jump around ‘cuz the music doesn’t call for it.”

The performance was powerful and full of feeling.  While White Lion may sometimes get the typical 80’s ‘hair metal’ distinction bestowed upon them, make no mistake, they had many complex and insightful songs. There’s nothing empty about When the Children Cry or Little Fighter.  These are songs you feel due to lyrics with deep, heart-felt meaning.

Tramp dove into his catalog of solo songs, as well as tunes from his band, Freak of Nature.  Even though I didn’t know many of them, their impact wasn’t lost on me.  You most certainly don’t have to know every word to every song to feel it.

Tramp had a grasp of this as well, honoring the old, but definitely making it known that he is current and living in the now.  Speaking to the crowd with statements like, “Just accept that this is now and that was then.”, he acknowledged that although we all hold the music of the 80’s and 90’s in our hearts, the best may actually be yet to come.

Just as Corabi had done before him, he offered were many personal stories, insight into the meaning behind songs, and musical antidotes that you’d never be privy to, except in an intimate setting such as this.

As the theme of the night continued, the crowd remained alert, engaged, and receptive to all of it.  It was a vibe I have never experienced at Vamp’d or any other venue before and I found it refreshing, inspiring, and introspective.

Tramps voice is unwavering, never out of tune, and full of legitimate talent.  The guitar parts were ideal for this type of performance.

Closing out with the White Lion version of Golden Earring’s Radar Love was the perfect ending to an amazing night of music.

After the show, Tramp stayed around to meet fans and take photos, never once seeming as if he was unhappy to do so.  Every picture I saw with every fan appeared sincere.

All in all, I feel fortunate I decided to give this performance a chance.  My suggestion is that you do the same.  It may not be the typical, high energy rock show you are accustomed to, but it may be just what you need.

Image credit: John Corabi by Mick McDonald of National Rock Review from show at Diesel Concert Lounge on 25-Oct-2013 | Mike Tramp by Neil Zlozomer; photo courtesy of Mike Tramp’s web site

John Corabi online:

Mike Tramp online:


About The Author

Originating from Michigan, Kelly is currently residing in Las Vegas, NV. Her passion for music began at a Motley Crüe show, and since then has attended hundreds of shows, met many musicians along the way, and has continued her drive to keep rock music in the limelight. Her experiences contribute to her success as a book reviewer for Vegas Rocks Magazine and as one of the Assistant Editors for the NRR.

Related Posts