Jan 8, 2010

Mike Tramp's White Lion roars in India

Decades down the line, after your eyes have reduced to nothing more than two cotton balls, your ears clogged tight with the earwax of wild youth, and your teeth retired into gumhood, you can boast to your 10th grandchild: that you were there – in flesh, blood – when Nagaland stepped into the era of major time music and serious time rock stars.

Then, you can explain to your grandchild how you whistled, shouted, screamed, jumped, moshed and waved your creatively contorted yoga-friendly fingers along with thousand pairs of other hungry hands; how the band slammed you into ecstasy with one hit after another and on and on and on. And oh, you can also point out to your grandchild the exact date when you actually went super deaf at a very young age…

In a night that would be referred to as the exact span when Nagaland stepped into an era of mainstream and international music performance, eighties’ hard rock greats White Lion tonight, December 16, 2008, played to a capacity crowd at Dimapur District Sports Council stadium, a night to be remembered for so many a reason. The band sent fans into dizzy with a flurry of crowd pleasers – yep, good ole classics and none a bit of their latest materials. While the number of fans was not to the extent of what was being generally expected considering a band in the stature of White Lion, the concert was rousing and the fans couldn’t ask for more.

After a wee bit of delay and waiting for the evening to darken, the show finally got off with Dimapur’s own noise makers XTC and Native Rising. Quite strangely the two popular local bands – “opening acts” – pulled off barely 6 sets between them. Native Rising performed a number while XTC did two. The widespread whisper inside DDSC stadium tonight was that, the entire evening and stage had already been surrendered to the blonde rockers from New York – and more so considering the main act is not only an international band but also the first ever band of stature to be performing in the state.

Notwithstanding random theories that find birth in the minds of impatient rock fans, White Lion’s Troy Patrick popped out from the band’s dressing shed and shouted to the XTC bandits to sing a couple more. So XTC’s frontman Moanungsang mobilized the crowd again and did another, this time with an acoustic slung across his mane. Notwithstanding, the off-tune D-string of his acoustic, Moanungsang and his gang warmed up the gathering fans. Then, during what was perceived to be XTC’s “final” number, White Lion’s axeman Jamie Law popped out of his shed and yelled to the band to do “three more” songs (Jamie was holding up three fingers to Moanungsang’s mob on the stage). Then it finally dawned upon the gathering mass that White Lion was actually waiting for “a little dark”.

Lovely Rozelle Mero announced to the crowd a couple of times about “let’s wait for the evening to grow a little dark”. (By the way, do you know that lions are best hunters only after or in dark?). So waiting for the “dark” to darken, the massing crowd was treated to an irritatingly painful set of soundtracks to “warm up”.

Finally, after a good dose of minutes filled with colorful F-words and many more “White Lion, ami tu khor jai ase dey!” (‘White Lion, I am going home ok?!’) from the impatient Dimapur crowd, the blond carnivores finally took the stage. And boy, take the stage, did they!

Skinsman Troy Patrick Farrell threw a hitter (or “drumstick”) into the crowd that had a good number of hefty Naga guys clawing at each other. Jamie Law wasn’t behind. After sound-check he flung a plectrum to the fans but, unfortunately the strummer was too thin to actually reach its intended destination so it fell somewhere off. A generous volunteer found it and handed it over to at least about nine pairs of hungry hands.

Bassman EJ Curse – also a singer and bassist for California outfit Silent Rage – looked cool in his Sumi vest so was guitarist Jamie Law – looking all blond, white and eager to rock. Keyboardist Henning Wanner held the fort on his own while backing Mike in the vocal adventures. And drummer Troy made sure he kept the energy of the band supplied.

The band took off with one of their crunchier songs, ‘Lonely Nights’ from the breakthrough album ‘Pride’. Their set was mainly from the albums ‘Pride’ (1987) and Mane Attraction (1991). In the following hour, the band would play up Dimapur’s crowd with almost all the popular numbers White Lion has been attributed to – from the iconic ‘Little Fighter’ (from the Big Game EP) to ‘Love Don’t Come easy’. One of the highlights of the band’s performance was the anthem ‘Hungry’, a rousing number America lapped up eagerly when it was released as the A-side first song on the album ‘Pride’. ‘Hungry’ by its sheer energy, roused the crowd into a higher level of “participation”.

Then came the band’s first ever hit single ‘Wait’ (released 1987 but peaked the charts in February 1988); then came, of course, of course the mandatory ‘When the children cry – and ‘You’re all I need’, the two songs even the dingiest shed in the remotest village in Nagaland has a cassette of. Both WTCC and YAIN were improvised but the fans lapped it up happily. Not to mention of “singing” along.

The about one hour of the band’s set left the crowd raspy and husky after a deafening spell of pure energy and a performance truly worthy of a band in the stature of white Lion. Notwithstanding a stray tune or two from Mike’s singing after a number of songs, and a bit subdued sound for Henning Wanner’s keyboards, the show was truly rousing for the gathered fans. It was a night Dimapur would remember in as much for the music, as it is for the significance of the night of December 16.


  1. How the hell do u mosh in a White Lion Song..

  2. :) One need not be a Therion or Chromeshift fan to mosh - just bob your head and hit out at the guy nearest to you in the teeth and you have 'mosh' :)