Live Review: Hollywood Vampires at Scarborough Open Air Theatre

Alice Cooper, Joe Perry, Tommy Henriksenand Johnny Depp choose Scarborough as their opening date on their UK Tour.

Rock’n’Roll Vampires are at the Seaside !!

Words and Photos – John Hayhurst

The Hollywood Vampires are by all accounts a legendary drinking group from the 60’s, most of them now passed over to that stage in the sky, but former member Alice Cooper decided some years ago to reinvigorate the band of brothers and sisters to celebrate their dead in the form of a rock and roll supergroup, consisting of various different members along the way.

Tonight’s incarnation features Joe Perry from Aerosmith fame and A-Listed Film Star Johnny Depp, who is more used to being in the sea as Captain Jack Sparrow than treading the boards of a seaside arena wearing a Les Paul guitar. Tommy Henriksen is providing some much needed oomph in the rhythm and lead guitar section and touring musicians Glen Sobel (drums), Chris Wyse (bass, backing vocals) and Buck Johnson (keyboards, rhythm and lead guitar, backing vocals) are also adding some depth to the proceedings.

A supergroup of megalithic proportions as Joe Perry is the first to emerge from the side of stage. Each person taking a few seconds of individual cheers and many whoops when Johnny Depp makes an appearance particularly from the many ladies firmly fixed to the barrier. Depp has a little smile to himself as he leans into the very far left of the stage although tonight he looks slightly pensive at times, as if this is an acting role he is least familiar with. It is clear that he is the main attraction tonight though, and whilst Alice will command the stage, every time Depp manages a smile or a wave it gets greeted with screams and cheers of “Johnny..Johnny”.

Cooper wastes no time in showing exactly who the showman is, he is wielding a magic wand like cane menacingly over the very front row, spinning the stick and pointing at anyone who takes his fancy, the 70+ year old has a look of a vampire needing some fresh blood and he’s not one you want to cross. Kicking off with I Want My Now – one of the few original compositions to be played tonight and then following with another Raise the Dead. The majority of the rest of the set is made up of covers celebrating those rock stars we have lost along the way in the last few decades, and some by all accounts were members of this exclusive drinking club.

To become a Hollywood Vampire you had to out drink everyone else and whilst I’m sure Johnny could probably still have a good go, my guess is that the others have had their day of drugs, drink and debauchery. Alice is known more these days for playing the odd round of golf than going out on an all night binge session, and as he quipped “I sometimes go back to that drinking club in the middle of the night to see my friends, but they’re all dead”.

We get a stirring version of I’m Eighteen early doorsbut this isn’t going to be an Alice Cooper show, there is no additional stage props or guillotines here, just the talent on stage and a group of friends producing some of the best live Classic Rock anthems you will hear.

Joe Perry is looking cool in his shades and leather jacket, playing the most battered Fender you have seen, with the paint splintering away from the guitar as he plays. A couple of Aerosmith songs are in the setlist tonight most notably Walk This Way, which sounds incredibly weird without Steven Tyler‘s vocal assault on the track. Having said that there is no mistaking the superb angry Cooper, who seems to be outliving all his peers and still rocking a full leather outfit and daring to stomp around the very front of the stage.

Unafraid to tackle some of the classic rock hits like The DoorsBreak On Through, The Who‘s Baba O’Reilly and AC/DC‘s The Jack, these Vampires tore up the rule book, I’m only surprised they didn’t do a little Zep or Queen. Cooper taking most of the lead vocal parts and during the sea shanty like Dead Drunk Friends images of all the big rock n roll drinkers who have gone before them are flashed on to the screen.

People Who Died (Jim Carroll Band) trad rock’n’roll song is a show highlight, as Johnny Depp steps up to the mic to deliver the details of a list of deaths and then the chorus of “Those are people who died, died, they were all my friends… and they died” The perfect cover made for this band and it worked as an introduction to Depp being more than just a glamour cameo in the band. His next venture was to cover Bowie and he does so with a remarkably stirring version of Heroes, Depp’s understated vocals were quite perfect.

At this point Alice Cooper steps back and lets Depp and Perry take the lead, Johnny gives a moving tribute to Jeff Beck, who he toured with only last year, he brings out one of Beck’s guitars and hands it to Joe Perry who then runs through some great solos and riffs from Beck’s back catalogue. Perry then takes the vocals for Aerosmith’s Bright Light Fright before it becomes the Johnny Depp performance again for a stunning version of Killing Joke’s The Death and Resurrection Show. Tonight was much more of a shared lead experience than 5 years ago in Manchester.

Closing the set with Walk this Way and then the much covered (by Aerosmith) The Train Kept A-Rollin put Joe Perry back in the spotlight. It felt all over too quickly but this Scarborough crowd lapped every second up.
Encore was the Cooper classic Schools Out, with a little added Pink Floyd – Another Brick in the Wall for good measure. It looked and sounded better than I have seen at Alice Cooper shows.

How often these Hollywood Vampires get together – who knows, it could be a 5 -10 year thing, and how many 5 years do Alice Cooper or Joe Perry have left? All members have their own bands or acting/musical endeavours, but when it does happen again, and they regroup to play once more, make sure you are there to witness it, because its fangtastic (Ed – really sorry about the Dad joke).