Hollywood Vampires @ Genting Arena 16th June, 2018

The Hollywood Vampires, are a ‘supergroup’ formed in 2015 by Alice Cooper and Joe Perry, with the added celebrity of Johnny Depp, playing “songs about our dead friends”. They’ve released one self-titled album and it’s understood a new release in in the pipeline but they are currently on a world tour and tonight sees their first UK date.

The gig at first seems expensive for what could be argued is a tribute band, but these dates see support from both The Damned and The Darkness, making the £45 ticket more attractive than Johnny’s facial hair.

The Damned kick things off at seven o’clock (yes early doors as there’s a lot to get through) and these punk pioneers go down well, with a mixture of their whole 42-year career. Personally, the classics, ‘Neat Neat Neat’, ‘Love Song’ and ‘Smash it Up’ are still their best work but having recently released a new album ‘Evil Spirits’, we also can be pleased there is new life in the band, which still feature original stalwarts Captain Sensible and Dave Vanian, who looks impeccable and defies his age.

He comments on the stage being carpeted and says “ooh it’s nice up here, must be carpeted for Johnny’s feet”. Their cover of ‘Eloise’ remains a classic. Although Vanian says the new album is “buy one get one free” I think the scamp is pulling our leg, but it is a fine release and recommended.

Next, we have The Darkness, and I must be honest I really wasn’t that bothered having thoughts of a band singing in falsetto and generally taking the piss. Well I’m pleased to say I was wrong, and for fifty minutes they took the venue by storm. Justin Hawkins still has that voice, still wears what appears to be a white catsuit and still takes the piss, but his interaction with the crowd is first class. He spends an age trying to throw a plectrum to someone on the front, apologising at one point for it going down a lady’s top “which was not the intention” and then saying the immortal lines “all that pissing about now we’ve only got five minutes left, don’t do drugs kids”.

Of course, we are waiting for their breakthrough hit, “I believe in a thing called love” and Hawkins says “here’s one you might recognise” before the opening riff to Guns n Roses “Sweet Child O’Mine”. It was hilarious, and even as I’m writing this now I’m chuckling about it. We do of course get “I believe in a thing called love” and it was sad when they left the stage.  “Really Growing on me” they certainly did, and I will see them again, especially given they were shitting out “Solid Gold”.

The Vampires take to the stage and it’s clear a section of the crowd is drawn here for the actor Johnny Depp, and it has to be said musically he doesn’t appear to add much, but he looks the part, in bandana, mail-boy cap and the low-slung guitar, think Izzy Stradlin and you’re there.

The real musicians are Joe Perry, who is an incredible guitar player and clearly musical lead in the band, and of course centre stage, prowling with his cape and cane, Alice Cooper. Opening with “I want my now” Cooper tells us “we’re the vampires and we play music for our dead friends”. There is a set-spoiler at the end, but the mid-section of the gig was magical covering “Break on through (to the other side)” with Cooper saying he met The Doors back in the early days. “We’ve recently lost Malcolm (Young)” and then “The Jack” is played, with Cooper flinging playing cards into the crowd. Next, we have “Ace of Spades” with a large backdrop of Lemmy, and this gets the biggest crowd reaction so far. It’s a superb version.

‘Baba O’Reily’ has a wonderful acoustic start, before the famous keyboard riff kicks in and again a roaring cover version. A wonderful, touching tribute.

At this point I was curious just what Depp was adding, apart from waving and getting screamed at but he then sang a song about his Father “As bad as I am” from the Vampires debut album, and it was really quite good, maybe he’s not just here for his celebrity pull-factor, but any doubts were squashed when he sang Bowie’s “Heroes”, which I have to say was a superb vocal, and the most fitting tribute.

Then to raise the bar even further we get a special guest “who’s not dead yet” and Ian Hunter came on to sing “All the young dudes”. It is magical.

I have to be honest when I first bought a ticket for this show I was undecided and had it not been for both supports I may well have given it a miss, but for great entertainment it was brilliant. The Damned I’ve followed for over thirty years and they always deliver, The Darkness I was dreading and they won me over, in fact I would go so far as saying they stole the night. However, when you have Joe Perry and Alice Cooper on the same stage, playing some of the most iconic songs written, then that is special and it’s one of those gigs I’ll remember for some time.

And of course, I can now safely say Johnny Depp has been in the same room as me!


The Damned

Street of Dreams

Neat Neat Neat

Wait for the Blackout

Love Song

Standing on the Edge



New Rose

Smash it up


The Darkness

Solid Gold

Growing on Me

Love is only a feeling

Japanese Prisoner of Love

One-way ticket


Buccaneers of Hispaniola

Get your hands off my woman

I believe in a thing called love


Hollywood Vampires

I want my now

Raise the dead

I got a line on you

7 and 7 is

My dead drunk friends

Five to one/Break on through (to the other side)

The Jack

Ace of Spades

Baba O’Reilly

As bad as I am

The Boogieman Surprise

I’m Eighteen


People who died

Sweet emotion



All the young dudes

Train kept a-rollin

Schools out


Reviewer: Glenn Raybone

Photographer: Andy Watson

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