In the great pantomime tradition (of hissing and booing, ‘look he’s right behind you’ and camping it up) this vehicle for a succession of not ever-so-cool but still best beloved rock anthems (like ‘Devil Gate Drive’ for example) is also a platform for the obvious and undisputed talent of our own punk-girl-heroine Toyah … as well as a well earned ego boost for the ‘Stars in Their Eyes’ personality and “Meat Loaf” impersonator Steve Steinman.
Steve is the ‘creator’ of the show which he has based loosely, and perhaps not so coincidentally, upon Jim Steinman’s flop ‘Tanz der Vampire.’
Big Steve Steinman (in fact no relation to Jim) also plays the male lead in this production, Baron Von Rockula. The Baron is the owner of the ‘Live and Let Die Club’, who finds a potential new bride in the still sweet and, as yet, unsullied young ‘Pandora’. And so begins a process of wooing the maiden in an effort to convince her to agree to be the Baron’s new mate and thus gain eternal immorality … or should that be immortality? Anyway, the only problem with the plan is that the Baron is still married, and his old ball-and-chain – in this casethe ‘Killer Queen’ vampire – played by Toyah (looking ravishing amongst all the other lovelies in this show) – is the dangerous old bat ‘in the ointment’. If the Killer Queen ever finds out about the Baron’s extra-curricula activities with Pandora- then there will be HELL TO PAY! Cue lots of vampiric gags, stage blood antics and some truly epic chunks of God-gave rock and roll.
Songs from the song-books of classic rock artists like Meat Loaf, Rainbow, Guns N’ Roses, AC/DC, Alice Cooper, The Rolling Stones, Bon Jovi, Queen and Whitesnake are included in this glammed-up-to-the-hilt song-and-dance show.
High kickin’ action and hot-footin’ dancing is provided by a coven of panting vamp temptresses, dressed in corsets and stilettoes. Heady, gutsy music comes from ‘The Lost Boys’ – a crew of vigorous, hard drinking, hard-sweatin’, dirty rockers. This lot are hot as a voodoo Chili in Hades and they play those crowd pleasing get-real rockin’ numbers like “Sweet Child o’ Mine” with the necessary guts, determination and get-up-and-gusto.
A kitsch end-of-pier show this may be, but the audience at the Rock and Bike Fest, Draycott 2010 lapped it up -it is so successful that Vampires Rock is now on almost constant tour around the UK and Europe. In fact, we plan to see it again at Brighton this hallowe’en.
So what’s the fuss all about? Well, this show is full of juicy, jingoistic (as in the ‘nation’ of rock) joy. It is comic operetta, created to indulge the masses, and in a true unadulterated form, it is almost like a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta of rock. In other words, it is fun, slightly silly and light. As a popular form of entertainment, although it may not ever be admired, it cannot be overlooked. That the Meat Loaf /Jim Steinman songs have always been regarded as micro operas is true… and it is worth remembering that Jim Steninman’s career started out in musical theatre. So these Meatloaf mini masterpieces (like “Bat out of Hell”) are the inspiration for the show.
The production setup also reminds us of the old-time travelling ‘Wild West Shows’. You know, where vaudeville performance was a neat ‘themed’ variety show that toured across the country pitching when and where the greatest crowds might be expected.
This kind of travelling circus used to shock and wow huge audiences across the UK and America until they were eclipsed by the world of cinema. Those original elements of shock and awe, the magic, and the blood, the gore and the raunch, are all still very evident in this show. You can almost imagine ‘Miss Lilly’ taken to task (by ‘Bronco Billy’) after the concert, for not adhering to the script.
The singing is mighty and masterful. The playing is strong. The tunes give a real kick — right where its needed! The dancin’ is neat and nasty (in a good way) and the girls are as hot as Pepperoni dipped into Nitroglycerin. The demonic hymns from this volcanic library of molten rock are pure gold. This is truly titanic stuff.
Yes, the show might be a triumph of style over inspiration, the plot might be full of holes, and the ‘jokes’ might make you cringe inside at times. But on a warm night, this fangtastic flamin’ rock n’ roll fun show cannot be beat. Try it for yourself and you’ll see.
© Neil Mach