I was expecting this show to amount to a homage, with a smattering of pastiche, of rock legends that had gone before, and in fairness that’s exactly what the Hollywood Vampires delivered. When Johnny Depp, Alice Cooper, and Aerosmith’s Joe Perry join forces, you know you’re in for a night of ear-bleeding noise.
Once the furore from the crowd had died down, after having seen Depp limp onto the stage sporting a bright pink ankle boot and looking like he had just stepped off the set of Pirates Of The Caribbean, the fun began. From beginning to end, the stage was a constant barrage of scary skeletons, vampires, monsters, Halloween-themed graphics, and fiery effects, which must have cost an absolute fortune – and that’s without adding the riders.
The band’s name pays homage to the infamous drinking club founded by Cooper in the 1970s, where rock stars would gather to celebrate life, music, and indulge in their wildest antics. And now, the Hollywood Vampires – a quartet completed by third guitarist Tommy Henriksen, a longterm Alice Cooper cohort – are keeping the legacy alive of their fallen comrades through their music.
The set opened with two powerful tracks of their own creation, I Want My Now and Raise The Dead, before a fun highlight of the evening came as a massive set of vampire teeth descended from the ceiling. Thereafter, the band delved into their repertoire of covers, from Aerosmith’s own Bright Light Fright and Walk This Way to Led Zeppelin, The Who, The Doors and more recently-departed rock legends such as Jeff Beck. David Bowie’s Heroes found Depp, who thankfully still has a paying day job, giving his best – still, despite his vocal limitations, it’s clear he was thoroughly enjoying himself and fully embracing his Jack Sparrow persona.
A Hollywood Vampires show provides a mad visual onslaught, obligatory costume changes, crowdpleaser tracks and an easy rapport with the audience: they’ve been doing this a long time, so they should be good at it by now. Some fans, it seems, left slightly underwhelmed and expected more, while others left ecstatic: such are the expectations of any live music experience. I sit in the middle, not least because the novelty of seeing Jack Sparrow, sorry, Johnny Depp was worth it.
Hollywood Vampires, Swansea Arena, Fri 7 July
words ANTONIA LEVAY photos ANTHONY CONWAY