On June 19th, 2018 something spectacular happened that changed the lives of many Scots. Something we will never forget for as long as have lived. It wasn’t an awesome three band line up at the biggest in door arena in Scotland. It wasn’t seeing the legendary Alice Cooper or the veteran guitar Joe Perry in person. Instead, it was Johnny Depp, the man of all men gracing us with his presence that made for an interesting night and resulted in many a wet seat and snail trail by the end of the night.
When Hollywood Vampires announced they were going to be touring, we very quickly jumped at the opportunity to get tickets. After all, the over abundance of talent in the bands line up just had to be worth seeing live. But when they announced that British rockers The Darkness and our first ever punk rock band, the legendary The Damned were opening the show, it quickly became one of the most hyped concerts of the year and they most certainly did not disappoint.
The Damned hit the stage looking like they had just came out of some sort of time warp. Equipped with their traditional stage outfits and a good selection of songs, they put on a set that is easily the best opening I have seen in a long time. I am not a fan by any means, I’m not too big into punk rock. But I have always had a bit of respect for this band because of their historical significance and the fact they have had some really good songs over the years. They had more personality and skill than most British punk bands, demonstrating just that on the night.
For their advanced age, these blokes had a great amount of energy and an excellent sense of humour. The between song banter was very up lifting and a nice change from the usual grim cynical personalities I see at heavy metal concerts. At the start of the set, you could tell the crowd were not too into it. By the time the band smashed through their last few songs including their cover of Eloise, the crowd had changed and were ready to give The Damned a well deserved standing ovation.
As I said above, I’m not a fan and I’ll probably never will be. However, if this is the standard of their average live show, I think I may well pop in to see them on their next UK tour. I would love to see what they could do with a full hour and a half or however long they like to play on stage. From my experience, they are exactly the kind of band I would want to see as a support group at every show. They were full of energy and took the time to connect with the crowd. Their efforts clearly paid off and there was a lot of people talking about how good their set was, even if it didn’t feature Johnny Depp.
The Darkness hit the stage with surprisingly little fan fare. There was no intro tape or no attempt to get the crowd excited for the first song. The group quite literally walked on stage, picked up their instruments and went about their business. I was honestly expecting something a bit more over the top from the group. It did not take anything from their performance however. I had yet to see The Darkness live so as a fan going back to their debut album, this performance was a big one for me.
The band were on stage long enough to put out a kick ass nine song performance. They of course played their big hits, Growing On Me and I Believe In A Thing Called Love, the latter got all the Johnny Depp fans excited. I think it was the first song of the night these pudgy old ladies recognised. The set stealers for me were the newer tracks, Japanese Prisoner of Love, Barbarian, Buccaneers of Hispaniola. They showed that the band could still deliver and the songs brought some interesting diversity to the set. A lot of people did not expect to hear these kind of songs and were pleasantly surprised. I also loved to hear the title track from the bands second album, One Way Ticket. An underrated and under appreciated album if there ever was one.
As a band, I thought the group sounded very tight and put on a great show. The rhythm guitar had a great solid sound that would make Malcolm Young proud and the lead guitar licks were very tasteful. Rufus Taylor is clearly an incredible musician on the drums and has most definitely inherited his father’s talents. Justin’s ear piercing vocals have held up quite well over the years. He can still hit those falsetto highs with great precision live. Though, I wasn’t too fond of his between song banter. He’s a humorous bloke, but his blethering took up a bit too much time between songs and it killed the momentum between the last two songs. Despite that minor gripe, The Darkness put on a damn good show and easily matched the performance from The Damned.
It is safe to say that the Hollywood Vampires had a lot to live up to at this point. The musicians and music lovers in the crowd were eager to see how well Depp could handle being on the big stage and the non music lovers were clearly frothing in their knickers by now. The show started with a big musical build up and the Christopher Lee (R.I.P.) narration found on the bands debut album. It was a great way to get people excited and I would say that it was a huge success.
The band kicked off with two original songs, I Want My Now and Raise the Dead. Two fantastic opening numbers. They covered Spirit’s I Got a Line On You, Love’s 7 and 7 and landed on the excellent sing a long Vampire original, My Dead Drunk Friends. By this point, a few things were very clear. The first was that the show was horrifically loud. It was so loud that it was a little uncomfortable even with my ear protection. The second was the band were fantastic (even Mr. Depp) and weren’t just another throwaway super group. The third was that the crowd weren’t too into the show. This song has a great chorus and plenty of moments to sing a long. Unfortunately, very few people wanted to do so, killing any chance of audience participation.
The rest of the show was on point and just as good as the beginning. The band were clearly very well rehearsed and were having a ball on stage. I loved their tributes to Lemmy (Ace of Spades), David Bowie (Heroes) and Malcolm Young (The Jack). They were very heart felt and true, something we don’t see a lot these days. We also saw great covers of People Who Died by The Jim Carroll Band, The Who’s Baba O’Riley and a very catchy new song titled, The Boogieman Surprise. This new track was great fun. It has a great hook and a chorus that is very hard not to sing a long too. If this is the kind of material that will be on their second album, you can bet I’ll be buying it day one.
The groups set finished with Alice Cooper’s Schools Out, the only song that people got invested in. I’m guessing its because it was the only truly big hit the band played all night. Isn’t that just sad? Saying that, at least the band finished on a high note and a thunderous applause. They certainly deserved it.
I was concerned that the high asking price was going to make this show a little sour for me. But between the three bands, I am certainly not complaining. All three bands put on an excellent show and then some. Unfortunately, I don’t think half of the people there actually cared who was playing that night. The fact that Johnny Depp was going to be there was really the only reason the show sold as well as it did (the high tier seats were blocked off). You could tell when we entered the venue who were there to see the band and who were there just to fulfill some weird life achievement simply from being in the same room as Depp. It was a sad sight to see and really reflected on the crowd’s behaviour all night.
After two fantastic shows starring The Rolling Stones, it seemed like no band this year would have had the chance to live up to those high standards. By themselves, I don’t think any of these bands would have. The three of them together as a triple bill, that is a whole different story. As far as concert line ups go, I think this has to be the best bang for our buck we have had in a very long time. Fans of classic rock and heavy metal, I would highly recommend going out to see the Hollywood Vampires when they come to your neck of the woods. It may be a glorified cover band, but the group put on a great show and play each song with a lot of love and conviction. This isn’t just the Johnny Depp show. This is a fully functioning band of musicians and was well worth every penny.