The name suits Krazee Kafe. Located on the outskirts of Des Moines, Iowa, next to a strip club, the bar advertises itself as a bar and grill, cereal bar, tanning/hair salon and music venue. Two Weimaraner dogs roam freely throughout the bar during open hours. But this crazy place seems to be a second home to John Corabi; the former Motley Crue front man has returned to the venue three times within the last two years. He’s developed a strong following at the bar and fans warmly welcome him each time. An open floor with access right up to the stage makes for an intimate show.
Before the show starts and while Abby Normal, the opening act and a local cover band is playing, Corabi is outside smoking, lounging in a chair and hanging out with the fans. About 10:40 p.m. Corabi casually walks through the crowd and saunters up onto the stage. He’s dressed simply in jeans, a black tank top with an open vest over it and all rings in place – one on each hand and one each in his eyebrow, nose and lip. A thick silver chain necklace with a starred lock charm adorns his neck. Corabi’s brown, gray streaked wavy, shoulder-length hair is parted in the middle, but looks a bit disheveled.
He sits on a stool positioned underneath a spinning disco ball as he prepares to play his 15-song acoustic set. The opening band’s gear is still set up around him. But all he needs is his two guitars and a seat. He picks up one of the guitars, rests it on his thigh and opens the show with Love (I Don’t Need It Anymore).
Corabi has an open rapport with the crowd, sharing personal stories in between songs. He encourages people to come in close. When fans ask him questions he graciously answers. If someone shouts out a request he either comments why he can’t play it or obliges.
He performs Father, Mother, Son and Man in the Moon from his days with The Scream. Corabi sings a spot-on rendition of Aerosmith’s Seasons of Wither. When he breaks into Hooligan’s Holiday (from the self-titled Motley Crue album) it appears a crowd favorite. Everyone in front of the stage seems to have a beer in hand and is singing along. Also, from the Motley Crue years, he entertains with Home Sweet Home, and after multiple requests for Uncle Jack, he accommodates the crowd, pulling it off, even though he explains he is not sure he can play the entire song acoustically. Corabi’s voice is strong, dynamic and flawlessly flows throughout every song.
Corabi points out two young guys from the crowd who appear to know all this songs, saying “You guys know too much about my shit.” He asks how old they are and when they respond they are both 22, he seems gratified with these young fans discovering his music.
Halfway through the set, Corabi explains the next three songs are a trilogy he’s dedicating to his “exe’s”. He holds up three fingers. Corabi explains the first song is about one ex and folds down one finger. He says the second song is about the second ex and folds down another finger. All that is left standing is the middle finger, which he explains is the third song, a tribute to both of them. The first song is a song from his new unreleased acoustic album and is apparently about a cheating ex because the lyrics say “she’s giving up, she’s letting go, she’s reaching out to him as my world comes crashing down.” As he explains the second song, Robin’s Song (written with Union), is about a young model he was dating. He lost the Motley Crue gig and came home to tell her. After explaining his news she said she had news of her own and was leaving him to focus on her acting career, but instead married someone else 10 days later. Robin’s Song is based on a letter he wrote her after the break-up. The third and final song, Never Loved Her Anyway, from The Scream’s Let It Scream album sums up the first and second. It talks about “standing at the station suitcase in my hand,” reflecting on all the cheating women and putting a footprint on her back as he moves on.
Corabi ended his acoustic set with Kiss’s Hard Luck Woman, but as he tried to leave the stage the crowd begged for more. Opening act, Abby Normal, hopped on stage to back him in singing Free’s, All Right Now. It’s a fun, un-rehearsed ending to the show.
What Corabi offered tonight is what live music should be about. An opportunity to connect with the artist; to feel a part of his world for just one night.
Photos By: Angela Strang