Craig Hammons Review: Hollywood Vampires Pay Tribute to The Rocking Dead in Indio

Photos and Review by CRAIG HAMMONS

The supergroup Hollywood Vampires featuring Alice Cooper, Joe Perry and Johnny Depp finished up their 7-date tour in support of their magnificent new album Rise out on June 21st on earMUSIC.  

These veterans of musical mayhem got together in 2015 to honor their rock and roll brothers who died from excess in the 70’s.  Alice being the last man standing has been sober for over 40 years.  On this night, they would pay tribute to them as well as playing some original songs off their last two albums.

Johnny Depp of The Hollywood Vampires – Photo by Craig Hammons

The place was packed and anticipation was running high, the lights dimmed and “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” began playing over the house PA.  The band slides out on stage one by one to a thunderous round of applause. Suddenly the lights explode and there is Alice center stage with his fellow vampires kicking into the first song off the new album called “I Want My Now”.  This is a serious rock and roll number and a good one to get things started.   Right away you realize these guys are serious and even being well seasoned rock stars, you could see they were out to have some fun.  Not only was it brave to open with a song 90% of the audience hasn’t heard yet, they followed with the first two opening tracks from their debut album “Hollywood Vampires.”

Alice then said they would be paying tribute to some of the early vampires that are no longer with us.  He said “I used to drink with one of them at the Rainbow Room and his name was Jim Morrison.”  This led into “Five to One” and “Break on Through.”  The lizard king must have been rocking and rolling over in his grave.  Next was a nod to the late great Bon Scott of AC/DC with a ripping version of “The Jack.”

Joe Perry of The Hollywood Vampires – Photo by Craig Hammons

Turning the spotlight back to the new album Rise they played the first single “Who’s Laughing Now” and let Joe Perry do what he does best and go off on a tear, ripping notes and chords to shreds.  Joe then stepped up to the mic to give a beautiful tribute to Johnny Thunders by doing a sincere version of “You Can’t Wrap Your Arms Around a Memory.”   I did see something on this song I never saw before Alice playing guitar.

Alice then explained how they are paying respect to those who have fallen to the evils of alcohol and this song was for them.  This was their bar room anthem “My Dead Drunk Friends” with the sing along chorus of “we drink, we fight and we fight and we puke and we puke and we fight and we drink.” No one was safe dead or alive as they went into an acoustic opening of “Baba O’Riley” before blasting in to a Who moment honoring the craziest man of rock and roll Keith Moon and his side kick John Entwistle.  They ended with “Wasted” draped across the back drop.

They energy level was up to ten when the opening bass riff to “Sweet Emotion” rang out and we were off to Aerosmith land.  Alice sang it like he had Steven Tyler’s DNA in his blood.  Joe nailed it on this song that he must have played a million times but with this ensemble it sounded fresh and full of energy.

Alice Cooper by Craig Hammons in Indio

Johnny Depp who has been slipping around the stage all night engaging the audience, shaking hands and stealing hats was now center stage.  A huge picture David Bowie graced the backdrop. Johnny then sang “Heroes” with sincerity and honest conviction.  It was a beautiful moment that paid respect to the most beloved rock and roller of our time the man of many hats David Bowie

After a few more new ones it was time for Alice to take us back to our teenage years with “I’m Eighteen.”  The band consists of Alice’s mighty drummer Glen Sobel and Tommy Henricksen on second lead.  Throw in Johnny Depp and we have a triple guitar attack that takes this song to another level.

But how can you honor the dead without playing Jim Carrol’s “People Who Died” with Johnny Depp showing what a real punk he is and what a good guitar player he is switching solos back and forth with Joe. 

The band was smoking and really to take this sucker home by ripping into “The Train Kept A- Rollin.”  This one came to a crashing finale.  You can see the band had as much fun as we did.  But wait it was now time to go back to school.  Alice took us all back with “Schools Out / Another Brick in the Wall.”  Everyone was singing as giant Hollywood Vampire balloons bounced off our heads.

We were under the spell of the Hollywood Vampires and they bit down hard.  Rest in peace you rocking dead.  Alice and company have got your back and be sure to “Rise”.

Video Courtesy of Charlie Lester: