Following the release of Hollywood Undead’s fifth studio album V, Charlie Scene, Danny, Funny Man, J-Dog, and Johnny 3 Tears return to the Manchester Academy for another fun filled night of their special blend of rap rock which was bound to get the party started.
Up first were Guilford’s The One Hundred and – despite lead vocalist Jacob Field’s unusual appearance due to a rather garish leopard print bodywarmer and mullet straight from the 80’s – the audience made an instant connection with the band. The crowd sang along to tracks such as “Kingsmen”, “Downfall”, “Unleashed”, “Dark Matters” and “Monster” which have been made popular due to featuring on music channels such as Kerrang TV and having had frequent plays on the BBC Radio One Rock Show. It was great to see so many people so engaged with a support band, even opening up a relatively large mosh pit in the centre of the venue for one of the band’s heavier songs.
Despite the crowd seeming to enjoy the support band it was clear that everyone in the room were here to see Hollywood Undead. This was evident as soon as The One Hundred left the stage when a few people chose to amuse themselves by starting to sing the chorus of “Everywhere I Go” which soon turned into the whole crowd singing along. A short time later the curtain that had been concealing the stage setup fell to reveal Hollywood Undead in a cloud of smoke in front of a huge eponymous sign at the back of the stage. It was in the same style as the famous Hollywood sign, with two huge illuminated palm trees on either side.
They began the set with “Whatever It Takes” off their latest album during which Charlie Scene gave the audience instructions to “put your hands up high, now wave them side to side”. At the same time he waved a St George’s flag featuring the Manchester bee, which has become a symbol of the city’s unity since last year’s terrorist attack at the Manchester Arena. As soon as the first notes of the next song were played it was clearly “Undead” and the crowd erupted into screams.
This excitement continued during “Been to Hell” which also featured an elaborate show of smoke and pyrotechnics on the stage. The band performed one final song, “California Dreaming” which was the first single off their new album, before nipping off stage quickly to remove their masks. They returned while the crowd were singing the opening lines of “Dead Bite”. Next up was “Renegade” with an impressive show of strobe and swirling stop lights followed by “Gravity” which had the whole crowd synchronised clapping during the chorus.
There was then a mention of how good Manchester audiences always are and that tonight’s crowd is at least a 9.9 out of 10. It was at this point that an audience member was invited on stage to play guitar with the band, although the randomness of their selection could be called into question as they picked a guy called Ben who looked suspiciously like the person they picked from the crowd on their last tour. The fact that Ben was asked to play a guitar solo and chose to play Guns ‘n’ Roses’ “Sweet Child o’ Mine”, which the whole band were able to join in with faultlessly, suggests that Ben may in fact be with the band and planted in the audience for this section of the show.
Ben remained on stage with the band to play “Comin’ in Hot” which got the crowd bouncing along. It was then time for a cover and the audience were given a few options before the band decided on “Folsom Prison Blues” originally by Johnny Cash, an unusual choice for a rap rock band to cover but their rendition was both interesting and brilliant. Whenever an acoustic guitar appears on stage at a Hollywood Undead gig you know it’s time for “Bullet” which has to be the cheeriest song ever written about suicide. The outro of “I wish that I could fly, way up in the sky, Like a bird so high, Oh I might just try” being sung alternately by the female and males in the audience was enough to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.
The band’s newest member was then introduced, tonight being only Dr Phil’s second show on the drums for Hollywood Undead. He was asked to perform a vocal solo rather than the traditional drum solo by the other band member as he was allegedly a very good singer. When he climbed onto the top of the drum kit and proceeded to sing the chorus of Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” this theory was confirmed. The brilliant “Another Way Out” was next on the set list which allowed Danny to show of some impressive vocals, although I am unsure if the band forgot the words to their own song or if they just fancied changing it up a bit as the end of this song turned into “Du Hast” by Rammstein.
The crowd were then asked to scream, first the left side, followed by the right and then an individual on the front row on their own. This one person was told that they scream like a war child before the band dived into the song of the same name; this was by far the bounciest song of the night with the whole crowd jumping in unison made it feel more like a rave than a rock show. After a quick thanks to the security staff for keeping us all safe and the bar staff for getting everyone “fucked up” the band’s longest-serving tour crew was introduced to feature on “Riot” which saw some epic shouts of “Fuck that shit, let’s start a riot!” from everyone in the room.
Unusually for a gig in Manchester there were chants of “Yorkshire, Yorkshire, Yorkshire” when the band asked how many of the audience had travelled to tonight’s show. Clearly several Hollywood Undead fans had made their way across the Pennines for the gig. The final song of the main set was “Day of the Dead” which all band members performed with the same energy as the first song of the night.
As soon as the band left the stage and the lights went out there was again the chants of “Everywhere I go, Bitches always know, That Charlie Scene has got a weenie that he loves to show”, after this was repeated a few times Charlie joined in over the microphone from backstage before finally reappearing on stage with his bandmates in tow to perform “Everywhere I Go” in its entirety. The band were then off to Satan’s Holo in the city centre to continue the party, probably followed by most of the audience who seemed ready to party all night.
Photos by Jack Barker Photography