Mike Tramp’s Modern Day Cowboy Ride at Sweden Rock
Just after Swedish band Saffire opened up the 2016 Sweden Rock Festival I hurry to the Sweden stage where Mike Tramps Rock N’ Roll Circuz has just started their show with the White Lion classic cut “Little Fighter”. Mike Tramp (a.k.a. Michael Trempenau) has brought his back up band Lucer with him and it is clear that most of the songs played during this gig are older than the other band members. Danish-born Mike even makes a point out of it in between the songs where he proclaims he is the only artist at this festival playing songs older than almost all the guys in the band performing them (Mike excluded of course). What immediately strikes me is the more modern arrangement of all the classic cuts from his White Lion era and it is not to his advantage. It becomes painstakingly clear when he continues with one of my all-time White Lion favourite tracks “Hungry”. It all melts into some kind of slow and sticky mess and it mostly resembles your average garage band playing White Lion covers in a not so good fashion. The modern, and non-riffing arrangements sound to me like Nickelback playing White Lion covers (God forbid!). Mike has got his voice mostly intact and the vocals are great. Most songs are taken down an octave or two to suit his voice better.
Tramp is a good entertainer by heart and knows how to interact with the audience. The talking between the songs focuses on the subject of keeping rock n roll alive maybe one or two many times. He continues on with two of his solo tracks, “Trust in Yourself” from his album Museum and “High Like a Mountain” from his most recent Nomad CD. I am not so familiar with these songs so I won´t comment so much on them but “High Like a Mountain” sounds pretty good to my ears. My head starts aching when he returns to his White Lion heritage and “Tell Me” is almost unrecognizable in this new “modern version”. Mr. Tramp points out a couple of times that “you guys keep rock n roll alive” and things similar to that. He also decides attack is the best defence and says “If you wonder where Vito Bratta is – the answer is I don´t know”. He goes on and saying that he will be signing CDs at the signing tent later and there he will be answering questions on Vito as well. It only makes me wanna go there and ask “Who is the guy Vito you are talking about?”. I guess he gets tired of answering all these questions on the former White Lion guitarist.
Mike returns to his Nomad CD with the second single from that album in “Give It All You Got” and it is clear that his solo material fits a lot better on this night but is also a sign that the emphasis is not on the past but here and now. The set continues with another White Lion classic “Broken Heart” and Mike announces the song as the song that started it all. Rightly so even for me and it is the song that turned me onto White Lion in the first place, but this does nothing to get my interest back. He closes the set with a terrible version of the absolute rock classic “When the Children cry”. This electric “full band” version has been remade beyond recognition and I fail in trying to sing along. It makes me wanna sit down and cry. It is a virtual slaughter of this all-time power ballad favourite of mine. Disappointed I turn to the food stand for some refreshing soda instead. This could have been done so much better is the lingering feeling I have.
Mike Tramp points out a couple of times that the classic songs sound “almost” like it did in the 1980´s and I guess he tries to give the classic cuts a more “modern touch” but that is also where he fails miserably. These songs do not need a new facade or a different tempo or different set of instruments. These are timeless classics and should be treated as such! I lose all interest in the gig and move on to finer things to come during these festival days. I would rate the gig to 4 out of 10 geeks. Mike is still a great frontman and his voice is great. The rest I try to forget.