Hollywood Vampires, named after an infamous Los Angeles drinking club formed by Cooper back in the seventies, were in Scarborough earlier this week opening a short UK leg of their current European tour. Given the rest of the dates are in huge arenas, the promoters, Cuffe and Taylor, have again excelled themselves in persuading the band to perform at the town’s Open Air Theatre.
Aside from the aforementioned Cooper and Depp, the band also include Aerosmith’s legendary guitarist Joe Perry and Cooper regulars guitarist Tommy Henriksen, bassist Chris Wyse, drummer Glen Sobel and Buck Johnson on keyboards. No lightweights in this band and they all came ready to rock.
In Scarborough the band played a mix of their own material, but generally it was cover versions – some well known, some less so – which they dedicated to their “dead, drunk friends”. Opening with I Want My Now and Raise The Dead the band then kicked in to Cooper’s I’m Eighteen before covering The Doors’ Five To One/Break On Through.
Cooper actually seemed to relish not having to remain in his “Alice Cooper” persona all night and appeared to be having a bundle of fun as the ringmaster of the crew on stage.
Depp clearly loves the immediate thrill of the audience feedback he gets and obviously looked the part of a rockstar guitar slinger, instrument slung low, cheroot in mouth and despite the uncool hinderance of a boot on his left leg while he recovers from an ankle injury.
Perry of course IS a genuine rockstar guitar slinger who looked tall, lean and dangerous in leather jacket and trousers, shirt open to the navel and an abundance of necklaces. He sported an array of guitars including what appeared to be the most battered instrument this side of Sting’s bass which graced the Scarborough stage less than two weeks ago.
As you might expect, some of the band’s own songs struggled to compete with those covered. The Boogieman Surprise and As Bad As I Am for example were entertaining but didn’t press the buttons in the same way as Johnny Thunder’s You Can’t Put Your Arms Round A Memory (sing by Perry), The Who’s Baba O’Riley, AC/DC’s The Jack and David Bowie’s Heroes did. When the band ripped their way through these songs the audience howled their pleasure.
It was Depp who sang lead vocals on Heroes, with Cooper playing rhythm guitar and what a sight it was – Cooper, Depp and Perry all sharing a microphone stage centre.
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The band also paid tribute to the late Jeff Beck with Perry – who for me was THE star of the evening – playing Beck’s iconic white Stratocaster as he tore into Rumble and Beck’s Bolero. He then went on to cover two Aerosmith songs Bright Light Fright and a blistering version of Walk This Way. Personally, I would have been content to buy a ticket just to see and hear Perry deliver that iconic riff. It was simply glorious.
The band left the stage after covering The Train Kept A Rollin’ but still had more to offer encoring with School’s Out and Another Brick In The Wall, as they brought something of a surreal evening to a close. Scarborough really is pulling out the stops and continuing to bring some of the world’s best and most entertaining musicians to our wonderful little corner of the world.