Review by John Jeffrey, Photos by Diana MacDonald
Akron, NY - Last Wednesday night, Brauns Concert Cove put on a special acoustic/unplugged concert, featuring some of the significant players from the mid-late 80’s/early 90’s hard rock scene. Some may refer to bands like Cinderella, Motley Crue, and White Lion as “hair metal”, but I always felt that stamp carried a stigma which indicated the groups were so image driven to the point where they lacked musicality to back up the hair spray, spandex, and lipstick.
The featured performers on this night were John Corabi (Motley Crue, Union), Mike Tramp (White Lion), and Cheap Thrill (featuring Jeff Labar and Eric Brittingham from Cinderella). Unfortunately, the turnout for this unique event was dismal, with under 100 fans in attendance, it looked completely sad considering the Braun’s concert area is capable of holding crowds in the small thousands.
I believe the biggest contributing factor to the lack of success of this concert was the fact that Mike Tramp was promoted as the headlining artist. However, the reality of the situation was, not only was Mike Tramp not the headlining/closing artist (Cheap Thrill ended the show), but he was also the least entertaining of the three major acts.
Even though the turnout wasn’t what anyone was hoping for, the upswing is that it created a very loose atmosphere, with the night coming across like an impromptu jam, as opposed to a regimented time-restricted concert.
First up was John Corabi, a true professional and no stranger to adversity. Corabi took the small crowd in stride, and played as though he was performing in front of thousands. He laughed and joked with everyone, even when he guitar stopped working early in his set. The acoustic setting was perfect for John, as he is touring in support of his recent “Unplugged” CD. Playing general acoustic renditions of songs he wrote in Motley Crue, Union, and the Scream, the highlight of his set was when Corabi performed a cover of Aerosmith’s “Seasons of Wither”, complete with a great story of how Steven Tyler taught him how to correctly play the song on guitar.
Mike Tramp took the stage next to little fanfare and played a mix of White Lion and solo material in a very mild and pedestrian manner. While Tramp also stayed in good spirits despite the low attendance, his trite European demeanor did not seem to translate well with the crowd. That, along with him apparently trying to distance himself from his “Heavy Metal” past, and referring to songs from solo albums that nobody seems to know exist, Tramp’s performance did not seem to be very well received.
When the true headliners, Cheap Thrill, took the stage, they really revived the waning audience, as they started out their set by announcing, “Mike Tramp sucks” to the laughter of the remaining crowd. Not only does Cheap Thrill feature Jeff Labar and Eric Brittingham from Cinderella, but they also have Cheney Brannon from Collective soul on drums/percussion, and a great vocalist by the name of Brandon Gibbs. In addition to doing songs by Cinderella and Collective Soul, they also did great covers by Soundgarden and The Rolling Stones, in which they were joined by John Corabi (dubbed as the “stunt cock”). You could clearly see that everyone up on the stage was having a blast. Thankfully, Cheap Thrill turned what could have been a truly lackluster night into a great time for those who attended and I foresee good things in the future for this band.
Special Thanks To Ross Catalino, Scott Barberio and Dana Kaiser.