Rocker and former White Lion frontman Mike Tramp delights fans with a solo comeback tour that stops in Jakarta, Solo and Bandung. (JG Photo/Ari Susanto)

Mike Tramp Rocks On in Solo Concerts

BY :ARI SUSANTO

FEBRUARY 17, 2015

Mike Tramp, former frontman for Danish-American glam rock band White Lion, has returned to the stage to entertain fans in three Indonesian cities: Jakarta; Solo, Central Java; and Bandung, West Java.

The comeback was Tramp’s first foray into music as a solo artist, but his set list still relied heavily on his former band’s hits, recycling its more memorable ballads and sending the audience back to the classic rock epoch.

It has been more than 20 years since fans last saw White Lion perform. Though its remaining members went their separate ways in September 1991, Tramp has never been able to shake off ties to the iconic ’80s group, despite gaining moderate success with heavy metal band Freak of Nature in the late ’90s.

Tramp’s vocals were widely considered the “soul” of White Lion, supported perfectly by the stunning guitar play of group co-founder Vito Bratta.

But when Indonesian fans chanted the band’s name and screamed requests for their favorite songs, the former frontman jokingly answered: “No, I am not White Lion. I don’t know them at all!”

For Thursday night’s concert at Solo’s Sunan Hotel, Tramp was accompanied by a back-up band of Indonesian musicians.

Fans got a taste of the classic rock hits they know and love but with a slight play on the arrangements, courtesy of Tramp’s evolving musicality. Gone were the blaring guitar solos and energetic jumps that were typical of White Lion concerts.

Instead, the 54-year-old rocker — in a similar attire he wore at the band’s last performance in the early ’90s — played his rhythm acoustic guitar to serenade the audience with a “rocking” voice that has endured the test of time.

The singer opened his show with the 1987 hit “Hungry” and closed the evening with the 1989 metal single “Radar Love.”

Despite the Valentine-themed concert, Tramp chose to limit the number of love songs to “You’re All I Need” and “Till Death Do Us Apart,” focusing more on White Lion’s socially conscious songs.

Tramp and Bratta formed White Lion as a distinctive metal group that not only entertained through music, but also had a deep concern for humanity and justice. 

The two men wrote many songs to voice their criticism on war, social injustice, racism and environmental issues.

The group refuted the typical reputation of metal bands that identified with mischief, violence, alcohol and drugs. White Lion had a mission to impact its global fans through music to support peace, protest discrimination, and confront political injustice.

On Thursday, Tramp reminded fans of his dedication to environmental activism with the 1989 single “Little Fighter” from the band’s third album “Big Game.”

 The song was written as a tribute to the “Rainbow Warrior,” a Greenpeace ship destroyed and sunk by French intelligence agents at New Zealand’s Auckland Port in 1985.

The “Rainbow Warrior” and its crew had been protesting the European nation’s nuclear testing in the Tuamotu Archipelago of French Polynesia

But the rocker truly brought the house down, triggering screams of appreciation in the audience, when he went into an acoustic rendition of the 1987 smash hit “When the Children Cry.”

The ballad boosted sales of White Lion’s second album “Pride,” propelling it to triple platinum status. The melancholic song, which was originally nuanced by Bratta’s musical skills to make his guitar “cry,” dreams of a future without conflict and war.

Tramp also performed the 1989 single “Cry for Freedom,” which he and Bratta wrote to protest apartheid in South Africa and urge people to stand up against discrimination.

Tramp then delighted the Solo audience by putting a metal spin on 1991’s “War Song.” Written during the Gulf War, the satirical tune not only questioned the conflict, but also criticized the US government for its fondness for sending its troops into other countries.

The new arrangements did nothing to dishearten Tramp’s fans that evening, who sang along to each song and enthusiastically cheered the frontman on for keeping White Lion’s spirit alive. And many continue to harbor the hope of seeing all of its members reunited on stage. 

But Tramp was quick to squash any rumors of a reunion, claiming Bratta had no wish to play music.

“A White Lion reunion is impossible. Bratta has shown a negative response [to the idea],” Tramp said backstage after the show. “He stopped playing guitar, stopped recording; he is just not interested in music anymore.”

Tramp’s last attempt to revive White Lion resulted in the 2008 album “Return of the Pride” with new members Jamie Law on guitar, bassist Claus Langeskov, drummer Troy Patrick Farrell and Henning Wanner on keyboard.

Despite a world tour to promote the record, reviews were mostly negative, with many critics citing a lack of chemistry between the musicians.

Tramp bounced back with a self-titled solo album, which he then followed up with “Rock ’n’ Roll Circus” (2009), “Stand Your Ground” (2011), “Cobblestone Street” (2013) and “Museum” (2014).

Even without White Lion, Tramp’s spirit to rock the world and spread the message of peace are inexhaustible.

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