Rocking undead: Depp, Cooper and Hollywood Vampires raise the classic rock in Fargo
The late great artists the Hollywood Vampires covered Monday night weren’t just turning in their graves, they were rocking and rolling over.
The supergroup fronted by singer Alice Cooper and guitarist Johnny Depp plowed through a thunderous set of classic rock tunes at Scheels Arena, playing anthems from the 1960s and ’70s.
Other bands may drop in a cover song or two in their live sets, but for the Hollywood Vampires, classic rock is the life blood. The group sprinkled in a few originals but packed the show with radio staples.
The project started as a way for Cooper to honor the rock stars and drinking buddies who inspired him and Monday’s setlist was a rogue’s gallery of rock stars. The 68-year-old brought new life to the tunes of fallen friends, with a serviceable howl to the Doors double-shot of "Five to One" and "Break on Through (to the Other Side).”
In his third Fargo show in five years, Cooper wasn’t always the center of attention for the audience. That was reserved for Depp, who, yes, really can play guitar. He added extra crunch to David Bowie’s “Rebel Rebel” and a good dose of thunder to T-Rex’s “20th Century Boy” and “Bang a Gong (Get it on),” though the echo-filled hockey arena likely helped, too.
With guitarist Tommy Henriksen taking some of the leads, they filled in ably for Joe Perry, who was hospitalized after collapsing during a show earlier this month.
Depp even picked up some of Perry’s stage swagger and crossed that with the loose, swaying playing of his idol, Keith Richards.
Perry hasn’t returned to the stage, but his spirit was there as a spotlight shown on his guitar and amp throughout the show. Cooper urged the crowd to yell “Get well, Joe” before he growled his way through Aerosmith’s “Sweet Emotion,” with Henrickson taking Perry’s outro solo.
Actually, all of the Vampires got some time in the spotlight. After Cooper’s bluesy harmonica intro to “Whole Lotta Love,” guitarist/keyboardist Bruce Witkin belted out the Led Zeppelin classic. Drummer Matt Sorum, of Guns ’n Roses, helped bark out Motorhead’s “Ace of Spades” while keeping the furious beat. His partner in rhythm, bassist Robert DeLeo of Stone Temple Pilots, didn’t get a solo, but his spidery style made him a presence to watch.
Hollywood Vampires didn’t do anything revolutionary Monday night, but they and the crowd of 2,800 had fun. After taking their bows, members stayed on stage waving and tossing shirts, guitar picks and drum sticks to fans. None seemed to enjoy the adoration more than Depp, the last to leave the stage, who thanked the crowd repeatedly.
One album and tour may not make Depp a rock star just yet, but it’s a role he’s comfortable playing.