By John Jeffrey
Verona, NY – Last Thursday night at the Turning Stone Casino was the opening night of the Hollywood Vampires 2018 World Tour. Verona was not only the very first night of the tour, but also marked 1 of only 4 US appearances the band will be making, at least until the latter part of 2018.
This show also marks the first appearance of the newly renovated lineup of the Hollywood Vampires, which now features another member of the Alice Cooper alumni in the group, Glen Sobel (drums), also Buck Johnson on keyboards (Aerosmith/Joe Perry) and brand new on bass guitar is Chris Wyse (from the Ace Frehley band). Even though the core of the group, Alice Cooper, Johnny Depp and Joe Perry, is still the same, seeing this new version of the Hollywood Vampires was literally like watching a complete different band perform. Calling the Hollywood Vampires a “Supergroup” at this point is almost an insult, as the term often seems to imply the ‘group’ is simply a side project, not taken very seriously by the members who comprise the unit. These guys come across as a deadly serious, nose to the grind rock and roll band, as the band features one of the most hardest working behind-the-scene guys in the industry, guitarist Tommy Henriksen.
Henriksen was not only pivotal in helping the band decide on who the best candidates were to fill the voids left by bassist Robert DeLeo and drummer Matt Sorum, but also headed the campaign for the band to pull the oh so ballsy move of playing 3 new unreleased songs from the upcoming Hollywood Vampires record, which Henriksen is producing.
The band started their 18 song, 90 minute with the brand new, yet to be released track, “I Want My Now.” Killing it right out of the gate, the band slayed song after song, only experiencing a few opening night hiccups, as Joe Perry had a few guitar malfunctions, but of course he handled it like the pro he is.
Highlights of the night were definitely hearing the new tracks (“The Boogieman Surprise” and “Bushwackers” are just brilliant) and also seeing Johnny Depp step up his game as a member of the Hollywood Vampires. Not only is he the sole stage-right guitarist in the band now, but Depp is also took lead vocals on the songs “People Who Died” (originally by the Jim Carroll Band), and did an amazing job covering David Bowie’s “Heroes,” complete with sensational up-right bass playing provided by Chris Wyse. And from what I’ve heard from the Vampires camp, Depp has also played a big part in the song writing for the new album.
Although the concept of the Hollywood Vampires is essentially a ‘cover band,’ playing homage to all of Alice Cooper’s “Dead Drunk Friends,” after seeing the band rock the house at Turning Stone last week, it’s clear they have the potential to be so much more than that. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a band live that’s given me something to look forward to. I’m damn excited about the new Hollywood Vampires and you should be too!!
I Want My Now
Raise the Dead
I Got a Line on You
My Dead Drunk Friends
Five to One / Break On Through (to the Other Side)
Ace of Spades
As Bad As I Am
The Boogieman Surprise
People Who Died
Train Kept A-Rollin’