Concert Review – THE HOLLYWOOD VAMPIRES

I hate to admit it, but I really didn’t know much about supergroup Hollywood Vampires until a few days ago, when a friend asked me if I wanted to go with her to see them perform at one of the local casinos. I knew that Alice Cooper and Johnny Depp were in the band, but not much else. I’m so glad I went, because they put on a fantastic show!

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For those as unaware as I was, Hollywood Vampires was formed in 2015 by rock legends Alice Cooper and Joe Perry (lead guitarist of Aerosmith), and actor Johnny Depp to honor the music of the rock stars who died from excessive lifestyles in the 1970s. The band name comes from the drinking club called The Hollywood Vampires that was created by Cooper in the early 1970s. The club, which besides Cooper included such rock legends as Elton John, John Lennon, Ringo Starr, Keith Moon, Harry Nilsson and Mickey Dolenz of the Monkees, used to meet at the famed Rainbow Bar & Grill on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood. Their main objective was to drink until no one could stand up. Thankfully, Cooper and the other surviving members eventually cleaned up their act and are alive and well today.

Hollywood Vampires just completed a brief Spring Tour, which began in Las Vegas on May 10, and ended last night (Saturday, May 18) at the Fantasy Springs Resort & Casino in Indio, California (30 miles SE of Palm Springs). They were the only act on the bill, so we didn’t have to sit through any opening acts. They appeared on stage around 8:15 pm and played their asses off for nearly two hours, proving that age is only a number (Cooper is 71, Perry 68 and Depp will turn 56 in June). It was nice seeing a band where most of the members are older than me for a change LOL!

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Along with Cooper, Perry and Depp, the other touring band members included Chris Wyse on bass, Tommy Henriksen on rhythm guitar, Buck Johnson on keyboards and Glen Sobel on drums. They’re all seasoned musicians who played as a tight unit, and clearly enjoyed themselves on stage. Their infectious energy easily transferred to the audience.

They played a mix of classic songs and covers, original songs from their 2015 debut album Hollywood Vampires, and five new songs from their forthcoming second album Rise (set for release on June 21st), opening with “I Want My Now” from the new album. They followed with the head-banging “Raise the Dead” from their 2015 album, and now had the audience nicely worked up. Even though I wasn’t familiar with those first two songs, I was really digging them big time!

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Alice Cooper in action

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Joe Perry working his magic

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Is there anything Johnny Depp cannot do?

Cooper was very engaging, and talked with the audience a bit between songs, doing a bit of reminiscing as he introduced some of the old songs. Some of the highlights for me were their covers of the Doors’ “Break on Through (to the other side)”, Aerosmiths’ “Sweet Emotion”, The Who’s “Baba O’Riley” (during which drummer Glen Sobel blew us away with a phenomenal drum solo), and David Bowie’s “Heroes”, in which Johnny Depp did great justice to Bowie’s memory by doing a fantastic job singing lead vocals. He’s really a fine vocalist; I loved his singing in the film musical “Sweeney Todd”, and I think he’s also pretty good at singing rock too.

Here’s a terrific video of the band performing “Heroes” that was shot by Joe Schaeffer, a photographer/videographer who also happened to be at the concert, and has graciously allowed me to include it in this review.

And here’s some footage of the band performing “Baba O’Riley”, showcasing Sobel’s amazing drum solo. I apologize for the poor quality of the sound on my video.

Among the other new songs they performed from Rise was “The Boogieman Surprise” a great, hard-driving track. Here’s the official video of the band performing the song at another show:

The guys kept playing song after song with scarcely a break, finally ending with their cover of Tiny Bradshaw’s “The Train Kept A-Rollin'”, then walked off stage. The crowd applauded wildly and repeatedly yelled “oncore!” To our collective delight, the band returned to finish off with another new song “We Gotta Rise”, and a rousing medley of the crowd-pleasing Cooper classic “School’s Out” and Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall”. It was an awesome show, and we all left happy.

Set List
1.  I Want My Now
2.  Raise the Dead
3.  As Bad As I Am
4.  Five to One / Break On Through (to the Other Side) (The Doors cover)
5.  The Jack (AC/DC cover)
6.  Who’s Laughing Now
7.  The Boogieman Surprise
8.  You Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory (Johnny Thunders cover)
9.  My Dead Drunk Friends
10. Baba O’Riley (The Who cover)
11. Sweet Emotion (Aerosmith cover)
12. Heroes (David Bowie cover)
13. Git From Round Me
14. I’m Eighteen (Alice Cooper cover)
15. People Who Died (The Jim Carroll Band cover)
16. The Train Kept A-Rollin’ (Tiny Bradshaw cover)

Encore:
17. We Gotta Rise
18. School’s Out / Another Brick in the Wall

Concert Review: ADELITAS WAY & DISCIPLES OF BABYLON – Jan. 27, 2017

I recently had the pleasure of seeing two bands that I love in concert on the same bill, at The Slidebar in Fullerton, California. LA band Disciples of Babylon, whose debut EP Welcome to Babylon I reviewed a year ago (which you can read here), opened for Las Vegas band Adelitas Way. (Varna was the other opening band, but I missed part of their set so am not including them in this review.) Adelitas Way played several gigs up and down California in late January, including at The Slidebar on January 27, and will resume touring throughout the Western U.S. in early March.

The Slidebar is a pretty small venue with no seating, so everyone stands to watch artists perform. I would guess the room held no more than 200 people, so it was quite intimate, and great to be able to see the bands up close and personal. Unbelievably, the concert was free! Disciples of Babylon, a four -man rock band consisting of Eric Knight on lead vocals, Ramon Blanco on lead guitar, Gui Bodi on bass, and Chris Toeller on drums, were first to perform.

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The guys look a bit tough in their promotional photo, but in reality are kind, generous and funny, with a great appreciation for their fans. This was their second gig I’ve attended, and they deliver 100 percent. Their set, which lasted approximately 40 minutes, included a number of new songs that will be featured on their upcoming full-length album, currently being mastered and planned for release in early Spring. They also sang their fantastic hit song “KARMA” and “The Great Pretend” off their debut EP, as well as an awesome cover of the David Bowie classic “Fame.” I filmed a portion of that song but, unfortunately, the sound quality isn’t very good (the music and bass were extremely loud in the small venue, so the sound is distorted in the audio recorded by my phone). Still, one gets a good feel for their dynamic sound and stage presence.

Adelitas Way came on stage around 10 pm, and by that time the room was filled to capacity, with anticipation running high. The band’s current line-up includes lead vocalist Rick DeJesusTre Stafford on drums, Robert Zakaryan on lead guitar and backing vocals, and Andrew Cushing on bass. The guys put on an exhilarating live show, and DeJesus is a crazy man on stage! He’s a big guy, and stalks the stage like a lion, his charisma and incredible energy charging up his audience.

They played many of their hits, including “Criticize,” “Bad Reputation,” “Sick,” “Getaway,” “Invincible,” and “The Collapse,” as well as their new song “Ready for War (Pray for Peace)” that will appear on their upcoming fifth studio album. In between songs, DeJesus engaged the audience and spoke about the band, their music and future plans. It was obvious Adelitas Way has a large, loyal base of fans, and a few people in the audience had seen them five or six times. At the end of their set, the band members circulated among the crowd, shaking hands and posing for selfies with fans. I was impressed by the amount of time and effort DeJesus put forth in meeting and greeting his fans, and his interest in them was completely genuine.

Here’s a snippet of their performance of “Bad Reputation” and once again I apologize for the poor sound quality.

Adelitas Way kicks off their Ready For War Tour 2017 on March 2 in Las Vegas, joined by opening act Letters from the Fire. If you haven’t seen them live, I highly recommend you make the effort to see them on this tour.

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To learn more about Adelitas Way, follow them on Facebook and Twitter, and stream their music on Spotify. Likewise, follow Disciples of Babylon on Facebook and Twitter, and stream their music on Spotify.