Artist: Hollywood Vampires, The Tubes
Venue: Birmingham: Utilita Arena
Date: 11 July 2023
I noticed most on the floor were stood up, so nobody was intending to relax tonight.
It was a little confusing as to what time this show was actually starting, as the web site stated 19:30 (not the year), but we found out at 19:25, when nothing seemed to be happening, that it was now 20:00. Having spoken to Alice only four days before this, I knew something most of the people here tonight didn’t, without really knowing anything as he had told me they had a special surprise for tonight, but not what it was. And it had been five years to the day when I last saw The Hollywood Vampires in concert, at Wembley Arena on 11th July 2018, and I was surprised it was that long ago, but we all know how time flies faster the older you get. Well, it does for most of us, but every time I see Alice, the energy he puts in to a show belies his age. And this band have as much movement despite the less theatrics as at an Alice show. Before we saw how he was today, we had support from The Tubes, the American band fronted by the somewhat eccentric Fee Waybill.
The band, apart from Waybill himself, looked as though they had dressed at a multi-colour swap shop, in pink, red, purple and orange. Waybill walked on as if he was going to church, in overcoat, jacket, shirt and tie, but with a twinkle in his eye that told you he wasn’t. I remember the last time I saw them in 2017, supporting Alice on his tour, and I was curious to see if Quay Lewd would make an appearance during ‘White Punks On Dope’, as he only just managed to stay upright. I enjoyed them a lot more this time, despite Waybill discarding all the aforementioned clothing by the fourth song. I was rather amused that he had his own “nurse” backstage to assist him in changes of clothes, which included a sex/bondage mask for ‘Mondo Bondage’ and a leather jacket, around two sizes too small, for ‘White Punks’, so no Quay. A couple of the songs required a higher register, and to be fair Fee just about nailed it, only sounding strained on a couple of occasions. For some reason, I appreciated them more than last time, and they definitely caught the crowd with The Beatles ‘I Saw Her Standing There’, leaving them relatively happy at the end.
Set List: Turn Me On, What Do You Want From Life, She’s A Beauty, Mr. Hate, Trouble, Mondo Bondage, Talk To Ya Later, White Punks On Dope, I Saw Her Standing There (The Beatles)
At 21:15, the lights went down and a huge cheer went up as drummer Glen Sobel (drums), Bob Johnson (keyboards), Chris Wyse (bass), Tommy Henricksen, Joe Perry, Johnny Depp and Alice Cooper entered the stage and kicked straight into it with two original Vampires songs, ‘I Want My Now’ (which sounds very Alice) and ‘Raise The Dead’, which was quickly followed by Cooper’s own classic ‘Eighteen’. I noticed most on the floor were stood up, so nobody was intending to relax tonight. Alice also told me that they were the most expensive bar-band in the World, and the next number was The Doors ‘Break On Through’ while ‘Baba O’Reilly’ was introduced as a tribute to Keith Moon, during which Glen Sobel did his drum solo, which was pretty good, and not overlong. Johnny Depp not only played guitar, but did lead vocals on ‘People Who Died’, Killing Jokes’ ‘The Death And Resurrection Show’ and Bowies’ ‘Heroes’, which came across pretty well with his lower register voice. At some point during the evening a giant set of inflatable fangs had come down from above the stage, but we hadn’t noticed them at all until quite late on. One big surprise to me was, with Joe Perry singing lead vocals on ‘You Can’t Put Your Arms Round A Memory’ Alice actually played guitar, and again on ‘Heroes’. Following this, Depp spoke about the loss of Jeff Beck and said his best friend was here tonight, before bringing forth a white Fender Strat which had been perched on the drum riser. If it was Jeff’s actual Strat, it was in very good condition. He then promptly handed it to Perry who played it exactly how Beck did, without a pick.
Was this the surprise?
They played the Yardbirds version of ‘Train Kept A Rollin’’ which of course Beck played on, and they looked as though they were leaving the stage, before Alice asked “Do ya want another one”, that being ‘School’s Out’. Then they walked off, but……
The house lights hadn’t come on, the road-crew hadn’t rushed the stage and I just had the feeling that something else was going to happen. Then I heard a guitar, and being a “player”, it sounded different, slightly edgier. The band started to walk back onstage with the opening to ‘Paranoid’, with Tony Iommi no less. So that was the surprise and, to be fair, it was quite a good one and obviously, he/they got a standing ovation; well, from the seated areas at least. We’d been stood up all night.
Review: Andy B/Lou C Photos: Andy B