13 Oct 2007 – Steve Rudd – Nottingham Arena
It’s safe to say that Steve Steinman is one of the hardest-working singers and performers in the UK. No sooner did he finish his ‘Bat Trilogy’ tour on the brink of summer, and he was getting back to grips with his other great show – ‘Vampires Rock’ – in anticipation for the current Autumn tour that’s sweeping up and down the country in style.
While Steve first found fame impersonating Meatloaf, he has become an electrifying entertainer in his own right in recent years, having toured his ‘Meatloaf Story’ and ‘Bat Trilogy’ shows to packed audiences across the land. His fiendishly entertaining ‘Vampires Rock’ venture is something altogether different, coming on as a fantastically vibrant musical to rival ‘The Rocky Horror Show.’ Set in a dark and deadly New York of the future, Steve plays Baron Von Rockula – evil owner of the ‘Live & Let Die’ club – who is searching for a bride. It just so happens that a meek singer turns up at his club to audition for a job, and so begins the Baron’s attempts to seduce her, with a view to marrying her, biting her neck, and forcing her to join him as one of the glorious undead. It’s a killer premise, I know, but it’s executed spectacularly from the off, with a legion of classic stadium rock anthems fuelling the story, brought to life by Steve’s incredible band, that on this tour has had the divine fortune to include none other than Twisted Sister’s Eddie Ojeda. Emily Clark plays Pandora, the woman who comes to be seduced by Steinman’s Rockula, and she proves to be a perfect foil for Steve’s rip-roaring, ground-shaking vocals. Emily’s voice has both the power and the passion to rival that of Celine Dion’s, with two standout moments in ‘Vampires Rock’ coming when she puts her own spin on Bonnie Tyler’s ‘Holding Out For A Hero’ classic, before duetting with Steve on ‘Total Eclipse of The Heart,’ the latter rendition of which was both mesmerising to watch and to hear, eliciting an emotional climax that was devastatingly touching.
But ‘Vampires Rock’ doesn’t just breathe new life into ‘serious’ soft-rock balladry. By its very tongue-in-cheek nature, the majority of the songs featured are feel-good belters, with Bon Jovi’s stonking ‘You Give Love A Bad Name,’ Whitesnake’s ‘Here I Go Again’ and ZZ Top’s ‘Gimme All Your Lovin’ coming up trumps and going down an absolute storm. Rockula’s trusted sidekick in bartender Stringfellow also proves to be worth his weight in musical talent as he performs a number of songs too, with Queen’s ‘Killer Queen’ arguably being his finest moment. Such a character provides many of the comedy aspects to the lavish show, sprinkling refreshingly light dashes of innuendo to proceedings in a hilarious and coolly camp ‘Carry On’-esque fashion.
Indeed, ‘Vampires Rock’ is a fun show with a capital ‘F’ from start to finish… even in its slightly darker moments when Pandora’s character is feasted upon by Rockula and his friends after he announces that it’s ‘feeding time’ as she’s shrouded by black material and the house lights go down, leaving the rest to the audience’s imagination. While the first half of the show focuses on Rockula’s crazed attempts to seduce Pandora, the second half is kick-started with a high-energy rendition of the Guns ‘n’ Roses classic ‘Sweet Child of Mine’ before they are both married, with Stringfellow charismatically conducting the service from the elevated pulpit. Naturally, Billy Idol’s ‘White Wedding’ provides the soundtrack. From then on in, after Pandora’s been bitten and become a creature of the night herself, it’s onto even more vamped-up material, with Pandora/ Emily getting her newly acquired gnashers of doom into tunes such as Alice Cooper’s ‘Poison’ and Suzi Quatro’s ‘Devil Gate Drive.’ Complete with an awesome stage-set, pyrotechnics and devilishly pretty dancing girls in cages at either side of the stage, ‘Vampires Rock’ is a magnificent spectacle on every level. The close attention to detail has paid off, and it can’t be cheap to stage a show of this pedigree, night after night. That’s why Steve Steinman’s shows always represent such amazing value for money, because you are always guaranteed a great time without having to pay the earth for the experience.
Another of Steve’s virtues is his comic wit and natural charisma. He can win over a crowd with a single quip or by simply raising his eyebrows in consternation at the right moment. All this goes to prove that he’s a natural born entertainer, and one who goes to great lengths to show that he truly values his fellow performers by religiously introducing them to the crowd and thanking them all profusely. But, given that Eddie Ojeda had joined him on this tour, there was an extra special treat in store after Steve had unleashed a blindingly life-affirming version of ‘Bat Out Of Hell.’ It’s a wonder there was a roof still left on the theatre after such an exhilarating performance, but we were lucky – it held just in time for Steve to welcome Eddie back to the stage for him to lead the rest of the show’s cast in an unexpected rendition of Twisted Sister’s most well-known hit: ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It.’ Understandably, the mixed-age crowd took right to it, singing along with all their might, and clapping their hands sore once the final bows had been made and everybody had left the stage.
As the crowd filed out, eager to meet Steve & Co. in the foyer, a smile was pasted upon every face that rushed past. Such a reaction was unsurprising really, because what we’d just collectively witnessed for over the past two hours was surely one of the best shows to be touring the country. It genuinely is packed with all the essential elements that are necessary for an unforgettable show. And it more than rocks. It electrifies the senses.