“You’re the main course!” shouts one excitable punter clinging to the barrier as legendary UK punks The Damned open up the latest date of the Hollywood Vampires UK tour. Despite there still being plenty of empty seats around the venue, it would appear that not everybody had come just to see Hollywood A-Lister Johnny Depp. Taking onstage equipment problems in their stride, Captain Sensible and his band made sure that the pockets of fans dotted about the venue were rewarded for their loyalty with a suitably raucous performance.
Early on in their set, Justin Hawkins, frontman of camp rockers The Darkness, spots a youngster in the crowd, apologizes then screams “We’re the muthafuckin’ Darkness!”. Honestly though, given the way they lit up the Arena, the Lowestoft rockers didn’t really need to announce their presence. With tongues planted firmly in cheeks, Hawkins and Co added a touch of glam to proceedings with a stack of platform-booted, catsuit-clad glam rock anthems like “Solid Gold”.
There are over seven thousand fans packed into Manchester Arena when the lights dim and, one by one, the Hollywood Vampires stride out onto the stage. Although the biggest roar is left for frontman extraordinaire Alice Cooper, it doesn’t take much of a glance to see how much pedigree there is on stage in front of you. For example, on Cooper’s left is Joe Perry, guitarist for Aerosmith and on his right is Hollywood Film Star Johnny Depp. It’s an impressive line-up and one that should not deliver anything less than rock n’ roll perfection.
Listen to Hollywood Vampires pay tribute to "My Dead Drunk Friends"
Powering through a set mixed with classic covers and Hollywood Vampires own material, this is a band that ooze class. Cooper strides about the stage swinging his cane like the ultimate showman while Joe Perry doesn’t need to do much to drip class. Depp, who might be famous for his role as Captain Jack Sparrow, simple rocks the fuck out of his guitar. Put the three together and you get, amongst other highlights, a raging version of “Ace Of Spades” and a sleazy rendition of “I’m Eighteen”.
Their own material like “Bushwhacker” nestles nicely into the set list while their rendition of “People Who Died” was set to a montage of images featuring dead stars of film and music like Prince, Peter Cushing and Bon Scott. Predictably, the loudest cheers rang around the arena as images of Lemmy and David Bowie flashed up on the screens then, as Depp led the band through a heart-wrenching version of “Heroes”, seven thousand fans stood slack-jawed as the three superstars delivered a truly stunning tribute to a musical legend.
Superstar rock groups have, over time, been a hit and miss affair but these three legends rocked Manchester Arena to its foundations putting on an absolute masterclass of rock n’roll. Utterly brilliant.