Entec was honoured to supply and co-ordinate a 360° production package for American ‘supergroup’ the Hollywood Vampires for their recent tour of UK arenas in Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow, culminating in a sold-out spectacular at Wembley’s SSE Arena on June 20th.
Featuring Alice Cooper, Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry and movie legend Johnny Depp, the band was named after an exclusive fast-living, hard-drinking gang of rock stars that included John Lennon, Keith Moon, Harry Nilsson and Cooper himself, who raised hell at L.A.’s infamous Rainbow Bar & Grill during the 1970s. With Tommy Henriksen leading a crack backing band as MD, the Vampires’ set showcased a cool mix of six originals from their star-studded début album, selections from the Alice and Aerosmith catalogues, and well-executed covers of rock favourites by the likes of The Doors, AC/DC, The Who, Motörhead and the Sex Pistols.
While Cooper paid tribute to many of his long gone compadres on ‘My Dead Drunk Friends’, Depp – a nifty guitar slinger – moved into the spotlight to front one of the show’s biggest highlights. Six months after gracing the Wembley stage as a special guest of Marilyn Manson, another Entec client, the man who made Captain Jack Sparrow a household name sang an emotional rendition of David Bowie’s ‘Heroes’ and brought the house down.
The Vampires’ 2018 touring schedule kicked off on May 17th with a handful of casino shows in the USA and Canada, before flying to Moscow for the start of a two-week European tour. When the tour arrived in the UK, the impressive line-up was further boosted with the addition of punk pioneers The Damned and glam rock revivalists The Darkness as support acts.
Calling the shots as the head of the entourage is Houston-based David Davidian, a renowned lighting designer who applied his know-how to directing video for the likes of Rush, Peter Frampton and Rihanna before moving into tour management and entering the Vampires’ world at the invitation of their manager Shep Gordon.
How did he and production manager Sean McGovern come to choose Entec for the UK tour? “I had previously met [MD] Noreen O’Riordan as a result of a different project and instantly warmed to her and the company,” replied David. “The feeling I had was that these people would be great to work with, so when we had the opportunity to do something with the Vampires, I went straight to Entec for a full production service and they’ve done a fantastic job. I couldn’t be happier.”
For lighting designer Joel Reiff, working with the Vampires is a dream gig. “I’m learning towards a classic rock show design in some ways and that means making sure that the audience are well lit at certain points,” he said.
“Using ‘old school’ 8-Lite Molefays delivers just the right kind of punch for those moments. Alice is the embodiment of classic rock’n’roll and although we have moving lights, they don’t have to move all the time – it feels right to resort to retro here and there.”
Also the LD for both Alice Cooper and singer-songwriter Jason Mraz, Joel explained that the Vampires routined their set for a fortnight behind closed doors at SIR Studios on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles while he remained at home, programming his design in WYSIWYG. “We had one day of full rehearsal in Verona, New York, but without lights. The first time I saw any was at the first gig, the following day. Until then I didn’t know what the rig actually looked like!
“Surprisingly, we are really on a budget, so in a lot of venues it’s a case of ‘throw and go’ and I’m getting the best out of the equipment I have at hand. We try to add things so that we can get as close as possible to our regular show. I’m largely choosing fixtures that I like, just as any LD would do, or will clone easily to other fixtures.
“That’s why I didn’t ask for [Clay Paky A.leda] B-Eyes, for example, because although I can get great looks, that is a very specific product. I mean, we’ve been playing places in Eastern Europe where you’re really rolling the dice when it comes to meeting equipment riders.