HOLLYWOOD VAMPIRES – Live at Kaisaniemi, Helsinki

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REVIEW AND PHOTOS BY MARKO SYRJALA

Hollywood Vampires is an American rock supergroup formed by legendary musicians Alice Cooper, Joe Perry, and movie superstar Johnny Depp in 2015. The band was created to honor the music of the rock stars who had died in the ’70s. The band name derives from The Hollywood Vampires, a celebrity drinking club formed by Cooper in the ’70s, including John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, and Keith Moon. Except for the rhythm guitarist and producer Tommy Henriksen, the band’s live line-up has gone through significant changes on every tour. The group is completed by bassist Chris Wyse (Ace Frehley band, the Cult), drummer Glen Sobel (Alice Cooper band), and keyboardist Buck Johnson. The band has released one studio album, HOLLYWOOD VAMPIRES (2015), featuring guest appearances by Slash, Paul McCartney, Brian Johnson, and the legendary actor Christopher Lee, among many others. The album is a collection of re-recorded classics of songs created by the original Vampires, but there are also a couple of original songs.

 

The show in Helsinki was held in the Kaisaniemi park, and there were approximately 5000 people in the crowd. The band was on schedule and kicked off Sunday’s show with the original Vampires tracks “I Want My Now” and “Raise the Dead.” Of course, the main attraction on stage was Johnny Depp. The actor, whose messy private life and recent financial problems have kept his name on headlines, managed to generate plenty of turmoil in the crowd.

Well, maybe the young ladies in the front will disagree with me (since many of them only came to see Depp on stage), but it was Alice Cooper who stole the show. Cooper handled a majority of the vocals, and he managed them very well. Overall, the old Coop was in brilliant shape and charmed the Helsinki audience. He got the biggest applause when introducing the original Cooper songs “I’m Eighteen” and “School’s Out.” The latter also featured Michael Monroe on stage.

Although most of the songs were covers, the band managed to keep the show fresh and interesting throughout the whole time. The five original Vampires songs: “I Want My Now,” “Raise the Dead,” “The Boogieman Surprise,” “As Bad As I Am,” “Bushwackers,” and “My Dead Drunk Friends” sounded all great. It would be amazing to hear a complete set of original material from this band someday. One of the highlights of the concert was the tribute to a recently fallen hero, David Bowie. As the band started “Heroes,” Depp took over the lead vocals, and he just nailed it. There’s more than just a pretty face on this guy.

Another highlight was the Motörhead classic “Ace of Spades,” a tribute to Lemmy Kilmister, which went down a storm with the audience. Bassist Wyse sang the song, and he indeed did a strong performance behind the mic.  Maybe it’s just my opinion, but it felt that Joe Perry stayed a little more in the background than what I’ve used to see him with Aerosmith. However, Perry was starring some excellent guitar work during the show. The setlist included two Aerosmith songs. Rarely performed “Combination,” sung by Perry, sounded good, but something was missing on “Sweet Emotion.” Or maybe the music doesn’t sound right if Steven Tyler is not present. It’s hard to say.

The band’s name-list is strong, so it wasn’t surprising that the band sounded great. Like said before, Cooper was musically the central star on the stage, but, of course, the response what Depp got through the show was overwhelming, and at times he seemed a bit confused. However, it was a positive thing to see that also he’s a valid rhythm guitar player who can also play steady solos and sing lead vocals when needed.

As a whole, the show was very entertaining, and The Hollywood Vampires delivered an enjoyable evening of music on Sunday in the Kaisaniemi park in Helsinki. The stage setup was very simple, and there were no special tricks or theatrics used, like on the Cooper shows. But instead, there was plenty of attitude and charisma on stage, and it worked.

You can’t help thinking, how long the Hollywood Vampires will last? After all, this is just a side project for the three Vampires, all of whom have their main bands and the other significant projects vying for their attention. Also, it’s good to remember that some of the Vampires are not that young anymore. So, fans should try to check out this supergroup while it’s still around.

 

WWW.HOLLWOODVAMPIRES.COM

 

THE SETLIST

I Want My Now
Raise the Dead
I Got a Line on You (Spirit cover)
7 and 7 Is (Love cover)
My Dead Drunk Friends
Five to One / Break On Through (To the Other Side)(The Doors cover)
The Jack(AC/DC cover)
Ace of Spades (Motörhead cover) (Chris Wyse on lead vocals)
Baba O’Riley (The Who cover) 
As Bad As I Am
The Boogieman Surprise
I’m Eighteen (Alice Cooper cover)
Combination (Aerosmith cover) (Joe Perry on lead vocals)
People Who Died (The Jim Carroll Band cover) (Johnny Depp on lead vocals)
Sweet Emotion (Aerosmith cover)
Bushwackers
“Heroes” (David Bowie cover) (Johnny Depp on lead vocals)
Train Kept A-Rollin’ (Tiny Bradshaw cover)

Encore:
School’s Out (Alice Cooper cover)

 

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