John Corabi Concert Review


Show Date: February 21, 2015
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Venue: The Rockpile West
Reviewer: Olivier
Band Website:

Almost nineteen years ago, my crappy one bedroom apartment was broken into. There was clearly nothing of value to take, except for my music collection and rather small CD player, and that is exactly what was stolen from me. With no home insurance to speak of, practically my entire CD collection was whisked away who knows where by who knows who and it was not going to be replaced anytime soon. Since that unfortunate event I have replaced a lot of those stolen albums, but one I never reacquired until about a month ago was Motley Crue‘s self-titled CD with John Corabi handling the lead vocals.

The main reason why I never replaced ‘Motley Crue’ is that I admittedly never really liked it that much, especially as a follow-up to ‘Dr. Feelgood’. At the time it felt like Motley Crue was a totally new harder edged band with less melody and hooks than the previous Vince Neil incarnation. Aside from hearing two songs from ‘Motley Crue’ when I caught a bit of Corabi‘s set at the M3 Rock Festival last May, I had not heard any of the tracks from that record since it was stolen almost two decades ago!

Three Quarter Stone in TorontoThree Quarter Stone in Toronto

Upon relistening to ‘Motley Crue’ over the last few weeks, I found that the songs on it were better than I had remembered and that they held up quite nicely twenty years later. Perhaps it is because my musical taste has broadened a little bit over the years, as there is hardly any genre of hard rock and heavy metal that I can’t at least appreciate these days. With the concert drought in the greater Toronto area still in full effect in my eyes, I decided to go see Corabi play ‘Motley Crue’ from start to finish live — even though I was still not a huge fan of the record.

The night’s first surprise for me was how packed the Rockpile West venue was by the time I arrived at 10:15 pm. The availability of parking at the club is always a very good indicator of what is going on inside. Since the parking lot was nearing capacity, the inside of the Rockpile West was as well — the area near the main bar was quite crowded, virtually every seat taken, and a fair sized crowd could be found in the standing area to hear opening band Three Quarter Stone. I soon learned from my friend The Meister that three opening bands had already played — including Hollywood Sins, Second Pass and Crisis Control Club.

Having only caught Three Quarter Stone play one song in the past, I was pleased to hear a whole set from them. This was the second surprise of the night, as I clearly did not remember the Canadian band making much of an impression on me the first time around. This time I thought that they sounded like a well oiled hard rock/heavy metal machine, playing some strong original and rocking songs. In particular, the band’s second song was really good — but alas, I don’t know the name of it. In any case, I sought out the band after Corabi‘s set and they were kind enough to go through their now already packed merchandise so that I could purchase their three CDs.

John Corabi in TorontoJohn Corabi in Toronto
John Corabi in TorontoJohn Corabi in Toronto

By the time Corabi and his four younger bandmates hit the stage, it felt like the Rockpile West was jammed packed with people and a sense of excitement was in the air. Corabi hit the stage with “Power To The Music”, and right away it was evident that both his voice and his band sounded really good! Right after the first song, the frontman noted that this “was the biggest crowd yet”, and then launched into a spirited version of “Uncle Jack”. Given that Corabi was going to play the 1994 ‘Motley Crue’ record from start to finish, I found myself in the same situation as if I was listening to the album — that being the first half of the record is way better than the second half, so it felt like the first four or five songs played were the best of the night. “Hooligan’s Holiday” and “Misunderstood” were the highlights for me, which unfortunately were found at the beginning of the show.

Nevertheless, the third surprise of the night was that (for the first time) each song emanating from ‘Motley Crue’ really came alive and I thoroughly enjoyed each track. A lot of credit has to go (and a lot was given by the frontman himself) to Corabi‘s bandmates — guitarists Josh Dutoit and Jeremy Asbrock, long time bassist Topher Nolen and Corabi‘s son/drummer Ian Corabi — who played the ‘Motley Crue’ songs to perfection.

The final surprise of the night was how well Corabi connected with the crowd by personally recognizing a few people in the audience, including their birthdays, and regaling the crowd with some cool stories of how he “auditioned” for Motley Crue. Corabi noted that each time he seemed to play in Toronto, there was some sort of blizzard going on — this night was no exception, with temperatures being colder than usual and the snow and poor road conditions keeping at least three friends of mine from attending the show.

Although I enjoyed each song that was played, I thought the concert ended on a bit of a low note with “Droppin’ Like Flies” and “Driftaway” closing Corabi‘s set — before the little played “Babykills” was performed as the evening’s encore. Whatever the case, I definitely obtained a new appreciation for the ‘Motley Crue’ record, and for John Corabi as an entertainer and performer. If you get the chance to see Corabi deliver his ’94 Motley experience, don’t miss it!

John Corabi in TorontoJohn Corabi in Toronto
John Corabi in TorontoJohn Corabi in Toronto

John Corabi setlist:
01. Power To The Music
02. Uncle Jack
03. Hooligan’s Holiday
04. Misundertood
05. Love Shines
06. Poison Apples
07. Hammered
08. Til Death Do Us Part
09. Welcome To The Numb
10. Smoke The Sky
11. Droppin’ Like Flies
12. Driftaway
13. Babykills