July 20, 2016 Hollywood Vampires Raise The Dead Coney Island, NY 7-10-16
Named after the infamous drinking club created in Hollywood by the legendary Alice Cooper, the Hollywood Vampires came to life back in 2015. A Rock-n-Roll fantasy of sorts, the body is made up of Frontman Alice Cooper, accomplished movie star Johnny Depp on guitar, as well as Joe Perry of Aerosmith on guitar. So, with quite a cocktail of musicians, what exactly does Hollywood Vampires sound like? Well, the best way to describe them is hard-hitting, old school Rock -n- Roll. That was evident on their self-titled debut album released back in September of 2015, which featured a couple of original tracks and a whole lot of flashback Rock classics.
Spreading like wildfire, the buzz around the Hollywood Vampires has been quite loud and many wondered would they ever tour? Fortunately Cooper and company put their heads together and rounded up a list of tour dates in 2016 which see them hitting cities all over North America. Exciting enough, joining them for the run are Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, ex-Guns N’ Roses’ drummer Matt Sorum, Stone Temple Pilots’ bassist Robert DeLeo, and guitarist Tommy Henriksen. Kicking off the Raise The Dead Tour back in May, they dove into the borough of Brooklyn, New York on Sunday, July 10th, to perform at Coney Island’s new Ford Amphitheatre. Set on the Coney Island boardwalk, a historic place in American entertainment history, it was a mild evening as everyone piled in, many ready to experience the Hollywood Vampires in the flesh for the first time.
With the stage adorned by imagery of a bat rendered in Gothic carving style (the Hollywood Vampire insignia) and low lighting, the audience (widely composed of generation X kids) waited in anticipation for opener Ruth Ruth to take center stage. With roots in Pop Punk, Ruth Ruth formed back in 1993 with members bassist/lead vocals/songwriter Chris Kennedy , guitarist Mike Lustig, and drummer Dave Snyder. Known as a big name among New York City nightclubs, and with six albums under arm, Ruth Ruth returned with a lineup consisting of Kennedy, Lustig, and Johnny Powers now on drums to share the stage with Hollywood Vampires.
Quickly, the dim light gave way to illumination in deep purple and blood red as Ruth Ruth took the stage to the hearty welcome of the audience. Then, Ruth Ruth let loose some wild guitar chords as they opened to fan-favorite from their 1995 debut album, Laughing Matters, “Bald Marie.” As they jammed through the upbeat cut, the crowd grew a bit more energetic, as Ruth Ruth led into rhythm-heavy, feel-good “Julia You Have No Heartbeat.”
Amped up to be opening the show, Kennedy shouted, “Brooklyn, you look beautiful. Tell me what you want!” In response, someone yelled, “I love you!” “Who loves us?” questioned the frontman as the audience cheered, to which the band led into “Don’t Shut Me Out,” “Cadillac Michigan,” and “Mission Idiot.” Taking a moment to appreciate the crowd, remarking that they had a few more left with Punk riffs blaring, drums in time, bass on blast, and some rad vocals, Ruth Ruth lead the audience through a whirlwind of their Pop Punk with “Everytime We Go to Bed,” “Kaboom,” popular song “Uninvited,” “All Ready Down,” and capping it off with “I Grew Up.”
Thanking everyone once more, Ruth Ruth played an encore starting with “My Revenge;” a darkly funny vengeance song, which left the crowd ready for Hollywood Vampires. With that, intermission ensued to a now large rank of Hollywood Vampire fans who spent their time gearing up for the headliner with some drinks and talking amongst each other. Then, in what seemed like no time at all, the famous Christopher Lee’s voice broke the silence as a pre-recorded version of the spoken-word “The Last Vampire” began with a slideshow to welcome the Hollywood Vampires to the stage.
Met with deafening applause, Perry, Cooper, and Depp took to the stage with DeLeo, as well as Sorum as they led into “Raise the Dead.” Shattering the tension, Cooper’s wave of baton and unique growly vocals made it clear to everybody present how epic and professional sounding the rest of the night would be, with icons cranking out their vampiric covers as Depp aptly kept pace with Rock-n-Roll legends. Following “Raise the Dead” was a cover of Spirit’s “I Got a Line on You” where suddenly Perry discreetly left the stage and collapsed. Unknown to anyone what had happened, the band kept an extremely professional attitude for the sake of the performance and the privacy of their dear friend and vampire in arms.
Moving on, “We are the Hollywood Vampires” was the succinct statement of Cooper’s, as the band launched into a truly heartfelt rendition of the late icon David Bowie’s “Rebel Rebel.” Having everyone singing along, they continued along with another Bowie song, “Suffragette City,” which took on a new edge, as the band rocked the amphitheater. Anxious for more, Cooper addressed the ecstatic audience, offhandedly stating,”In 1968 I met 4 guys in LA, they were The Doors. I used to drink with one of them, he looked at me and said, ‘Alice, no one here gets out alive.'” A fitting segue, with the last part sung out in rhythm to drum and bass, the band transitioned into a truly amazing cover of The Doors’ “Five to One”/”The Other Side” where everyone was dancing and screaming.
Forever Metal’s greatest host, Cooper presented his showmanship by leading his fellow Vampire’s into “As Bad as I Am,” then headfirst into a barrage of Metal injected covers of songs with T-Rex’s “20th Century Boy” and “Bang a Gong (Get it On)” before The Beatles’ “Come Together” as a tribute to Ringo and Lennon, who are Vampires too. A delightful assortment of Rock gems, Love’s “7 and 7 is” came before a masterful cover of Led Zeppelin’s “A Whole Lotta Love.” This was all while Deep and Long Island native Henriksen handled guitar work all on their own, and did a superb job.
Keeping the adrenaline flowing, Cooper’s words between songs fit seamlessly as he then stated, “We wrote this song about the Rainbow, and all of the ghosts inside of it,” as The Vampires pounded straight into Blues inspired “My Dead Drunk Friends.” A well-received original tune, Cooper addressed the adoring crowd thereafter saying, “One of our brothers got sick during the show, we’re improvising tonight. This one is to somebody who just passed away, this goes out to Lemmy. Ace of Spades!” A Rock hero who strikes a chord in everyone’s heart, Lemmy’s passing certainly was a shot heard around the world and the noise level at Ford Amphitheater elevated to new heights as the band rocked into “Ace of Spades.”
Sticking with the theme, “We are the Hollywood Vampires,” said Cooper in his theatrical way once more. “We’re playing songs to honor all of our dead, drunk friends tonight. This is one of the drunkest.” Curious who it may be, with a power and force beyond comprehension, the band plowed into The Who’s “Pinball Wizard” and “My Generation.” Both tight-sounding and loud, many were on their feet as the set came to a close with Alice Cooper’s very own “I’m Eighteen.” As the band exited the stage, the audience refused to say goodnight and hollered until the Hollywood Vampires rose from the dead once more.
Slyly hinting at a surprise for the encore, Cooper gave a rundown of each member performing tonight, including a special moment for the entire venue to wish Joe Perry the best, as the chant of “Get well Joe!” echoed through the air. Overwhelm by the support, without further interruption, Cooper introduced Rock legend Ian Hunter from Mott the Hoople to provide guest vocals and guitar through The Velvet Underground’s “Sweet Jane” and Mott the Hooples’ own “All the Young Dudes.” It was more than a pleasant surprise, it was show-stopping as everyone devoured the collaboration with Hunter and they were on cloud nine as the encore wound down with Alice Cooper classic “School’s Out,” which weaved Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall” into the mix.
“School is out New York! Thank you and goodnight,” was the farewell as the Hollywood Vampires vanished into the night. While the shocking collapse of Perry frightened the soul of the crowd, the show went on and everyone had a blast. The news soon circulated that he suffered cardiac arrest and was rushed to the hospital after leaving the stage. Thankfully, Perry was ok and said to be discharged from Columbia Presbyterian Hospital on July 15th. As for the show itself, between the stage effects, smiley balloons bobbing lazily through the air, and the stage full of Rock superstars, it was a night no one will soon forget. The Raise the Dead tour is truly awesome and the Hollywood Vampires put on a show that sets the standard for what a Rock-n-Roll show should be all about.Photo credit: Stephanie Pearl Photography