John Corabi - Auntie Annie's, Belfast
John Corabi (Unplugged)
Auntie Annie’s, Belfast
Saturday, November 17th
Having played with or fronted the likes of Union, The Scream and Motley Crue – the latter on their genuinely impressive 1994 self-titled album – Pennsylvanian fifty-something John Corabi remains one of the most well travelled and well-versed hard rock performers in the business. With a CV with very few comparisons in the genre, tonight he brings his wide-ranging back catalogue and powerful voice to Belfast, stripped back and bare-boned.
Despite expressing disappointment at the poor turn-out at his two previous Irish dates on the current tour, Corabi has drawn a hefty crowd tonight – an eclectic melange of youth and experience; the curious and the heartily inducted. Kicking off with a swift one-two of Union tracks propped up on a stool – including single ‘Love (I Don’t Need It Anymore)’ – he is clearly on fine form; interspersing anecdotes and musings with vigorous yet minimalist renderings of songs faithfully echoed by tonight’s ever-growing audience.
A remarkable cover of early Aerosmith ballad ‘Seasons of Wither’ soon follows. The crowd, increasingly immersed in Corabi’s earnest approach in discussing his material and choice of covers tonight, become considerably more animated. Soon, a decidedly poignant rendition of Scream song ‘Father, Mother, Son’ precedes the notably more upbeat ‘Never Loved Her Anyway’ from the same album, a sense of occasion kicks into gear as dodgy harmonising and beer-fuelled gallivanting from the crowd takes hold.
Despite having to vocally contain a particularly lively member of the audience on a couple of occasions, tonight’s crowd are justifiably attentive of Corabi’s incredibly executed acoustic tales and snippets of wisdom tonight, Motley Crue tracks ‘Misunderstood’ and ‘Loveshine’ serving as a perfect accompaniment to set highlight and particular crowd favourite tonight, ‘Man On The Moon’. In spite of his fixed hard rock calling, the extent of John Corabi’s innate versatility and adaptability within such a genre comes to the fore time and time again this evening.
At the end up, with Crue’s ‘Power To The Music’ and a well-received repeat of ‘Loveshine’ to satisfy the decidedly inebriated demands of a female fan up front, Corabi concludes with Crue single ‘Smoking In The Boys Room’, a track which he had no part to play in on the original recording. Nonetheless, this is entirely besides the point tonight – the one-song encore only helping to emphasise Corabi’s (somewhat cult) reputation as easily one of the finest hard rock vocalists, guitarists and songwriters in the business.