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Johnny Depp, Hollywood Vampires raise the dead at Rohnert Park concert

It’s appropriate that the celebrity band The Hollywood Vampires opened their Friday night concert at Rohnert Park’s Green Music Center with “Raise the Dead,” because their music was loud enough to do just that.

Fueled by the star power of global film star Johnny Depp, classic shock rocker Alice Cooper and high-powered Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry, the seven-piece band had a crowd of nearly 3,500 concert-goers on their feet, cheering and dancing, for ?90 minutes at the center’s Weill Hall and lawn.

Fans even forgave the band for starting the show a half-hour late, which several among the crowd blamed on Depp. “Always blame the movie star,” someone said.

Asked which of the band’s big names she came to see, Stephanie Greene, 30, of Rio Nido, said emphatically, “Johnny Depp! Come on! That’s my generation.”

Late in the show, the Vampires did play “My Generation” by The Who. While it can be called a supergroup, the eclectic combo is also mainly a cover band, playing mostly the hits of deceased rock stars, including David Bowie’s “Rebel Rebel” and “Suffragette City,” Jim Morrison and The Doors’ “Five to One/Break on Through (to the Other Side)” and John Lennon and The Beatles’ “Come Together.”

On social media, there has been some speculation about Depp’s role with the Vampires as a rock star. Is the actor really a musician? Well, he acted like one, playing and singing backup and producing a few brief guitar flourishes, while Perry led the way on lead guitar.

Even the one song Depp wrote for the group, “As Bad as I Am,” featured Cooper on lead vocals, prancing in his iconic ghoulish makeup and costume, and Perry on lead guitar. But Depp played the star, leaning from the stage to grasp the hands of fans.

Friday night’s show was Perry’s first appearance with the band since July 10, when he became ill at a Hollywood Vampires performance at the Ford Amphitheater in New York’s Coney Island.

Dana Porteous, 63, of Petaluma, came to see Perry, whose career he has followed since both of them grew up in Boston. “I remembered seeing him at small nightclubs,” Porteous said. “My wife is here for Johnny Depp.”

The band has had a lineup change while out on tour. When bassist Duff McKagan had to leave because of commitments to Guns N’ Roses, bassist Robert DeLeo of Stone Temple Pilots stepped in. The touring roster also includes drummer Matt Sorum, guitarist Tommy Henriksen and Bruce Witkin on guitar and keyboards.

The Hollywood Vampires band was originally Cooper’s brainchild, a nostalgic nod to West Coast rock and roll history, named for a drinking club he belonged to in the ’70s at the Rainbow Bar and Grill in Los Angeles.

In many ways, Friday’s concert was Cooper’s show, with him fronting the band and including his own hits “I’m Eighteen” and “School’s Out” on the playlist.

Kendall Cribbins, 21, of Santa Rosa played no favorites. He came to see the whole band.

“I grew up listening to the old rock ’n’ roll,” he said. “My parents played it all the time. I always knew the lyrics to all of the songs before I knew what they meant.”

You can reach staff writer Dan Taylor at 707-521-5243 or dan.taylor@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @danarts.

Dan Taylor

Arts & Entertainment, The Press Democrat

Do you take fun seriously? I know I do. Tell me what you want to know about arts and entertainment in the North Bay to make the best use of your leisure time and money. As a longtime local arts journalist, I have learned where to look and who to ask.

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