Sunday, June 25, 2023

Hollywood Vampires @ Zénith, Paris - June 25th, 2023

The Hollywood Vampires started as a fun little side project that Alice Cooper, Joe Perry and Johnny Depp founded on their time off from their regular gigs, playing cover songs of their favorite artists. Then, due to the quality of their shows and the demand of the audience, they quickly started writing their own material and the band soon became a bona fide headlining act, playing the world's biggest stages.

Maybe you've never pondered the question: what if? What if Joe Perry played guitar on School's Out? What if Alice Cooper sang Walk This Way? What if this gang of rock n' roll pirates covered AC/DC's The Jack and The Who's Baba O'Riley? Well, now we know. It's fucking glorious. Thankfully, the band has kept its fun-loving, nonchalant attitude to performing: Hollywood Vampires is still very much a bar band, it just happens to perform in front of thousands of people. Oh, and their fee is also a tad higher than your cousin's Creedence cover band.

This is the Vampire's first concert in the French Capital, after the postponement and subsequent outright cancellation of their 2020 concert at the Olympia, for some reason... Something about a plague from Asia? 

Last time Alice Cooper was in town was nearly four years ago. But Aerosmith hasn't played in Paris since 2010, as they cancelled their last European tour to accommodate their Las Vegas residency (which they ended cancelling anyway when Steven Tyler fell off the wagon) so it felt good seeing Joe Perry on a French stage again. The man oozes cool and his guitar style, halfway between Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck, is one of the band's main attractions.

We were very critical of Depp's spotlight-hogging stint with Jeff Beck last year because we thought he was out of place, but the type of hard rock show that the Vampires puts on is where he truly shines. The rock star poses and the women in the audience's reactions to his pretty boy looks are actually an asset in this case, rather than a distraction.

Jeff Beck's memory actually provided the evening's most surprisingly emotional moment: one day after what would have been the late guitar hero's 79th birthday, Joe Perry payed tribute to his friend by bringing out the Master's guitar and playing some Beckian licks on it, playing Rumble and Beck's Bolero, as Jeff's friends Alice and Johnny looked on.

And of course, Alice Cooper, the master of ceremonies, was his usual self: scary, funny, vocally impeccable, and always looking impossibly cool. We're not very objective, as he is is one of our all-time favorite artists, but how this man manages to stay this awesome at 75 is astounding. It's funny to see him out of his Alice persona, and just play rock star. He even strums a guitar on a few numbers, which is an unusual sight!

As you'd expect, the backing band was incredible: guitarist Tommy Henriksen and drummer Glen Sobel, both from Alice's solo band, Chris Wyse of The Cult on bass, Buck Johnson, who plays with Aerosmith, on keyboards and occasional guitar... You need a solid backbone to back these three superstars and they did a fantastic job. The setlist was also perfect: some great classic rock hits by The Doors, The Who, AC/DC, David Bowie, Johnny Thunders, some of the band's originals and of course a few tracks by Aerosmith and Alice Cooper... 

90 minutes of killer songs, loud guitars, rock star attitude, and a whole lot of fun: the Vampires are both the essence and the epitome of classic American hard rock n' roll.

Experience or re-live the concert by playing the setlist in the embedded Apple Music player below
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