Review: Vampires Rock - Ghost Train
If you like the sound of a bonkers vampire story told via the medium of classic rock music, compered by a sarcastic northerner then Vampires Rock is just thing you have been looking for. Vampires Rock is a touring theatre production created by Steve Steinman, and is very much a show and not just a touring covers band. The show is a visual and auditory spectacle, with a superb stage set, lighting, a properly top-quality band (it is all live, no backing tracks here), dancers, singers and fire eaters.
I have seen Vampires Rock seven or eight times now and would still have to say the plot makes no sense at all, and that is very much a huge positive and not a criticism. The first half is vampire Baron meets virgin, wants to marry her, vampire hunter wants to kill vampire baron and falls for the new virgin himself. The second half’s plot is way more ‘whoop whoop ga ga’, the culmination of which is the unmasking of the vampire hunter as someone known to the Baron. And the response to this terrible and shocking revelation? The vampire killer strips down to a pair of leopard print leggings and sky blue budgie smugglers and dives into a rendition of 80s poodle-haired rock classics such as The Final Countdown, We Will Rock You and Jump. Told you it makes no sense at all!
Sometimes Vampires Rock Ghost Train also features a Vampire Queen, who in past productions has been Toyah Wilcox and who in the early-2019 tour was Sam Bailey. The Queen is a great addition and Sam Baily was perfect for the role. Her version of Heart’s ‘Alone’ was one of the best performances I’ve seen on any stage.
One of the nice things which keeps bringing audiences back time and time again is the cast’s willingness to break character and joke with the audience, and over time some of these jokes have become a regular part of the show. For example, the Baron is looking for his old girlfriend on the stage and someone in the audience always shouts out ‘she’s behind you’, to which Steve will look out and say ‘it’s not a f’king pantomime’, and at least half the entire audience always shout back ‘oh yes it is’, and Steve always looks as amused by this as he did the first time it happened.
In the current tour’s visit to Birmingham, during a poignant scene where blood cascades down a wedding dress, during a dramatic silence a member of the audience shouted out ‘that’s going to stain!’ and everyone on stage pretty much lost it. Steve wanted to put his microphone down and couldn’t see anywhere suitable, so just stuck it between Sam Bailey’s generously proportioned chest and talked to the audience while the band and Sam were desperately trying to stop laughing and hold it together.
It’s things like this which keep bringing people back time and time again. The show is professional, extremely high quality and with unquestionably tight production values, but that willingness to break character sometimes makes the audience feel part of it rather than mere observers. Steve has that Robbie-Williams-esque abiity to stand on a stage in complete confidence and hold an audience’s total attention - that is something pretty rare and gives Vampires Rock the extra edge over a lot of other productions.
You can be exceedingly professional yet still irreverent and have fun and that is the line Vampires Rock - Ghost Train treads, and treads very well indeed. (“Do you remember when we met? Yes. You were working as a waitress in a cocktail bar when I first met you”).
It tours very regularly and is well worth the night out for anyone, young and old. It’s sexy and although is not aimed at kids, is not too sexy for them. Sometimes it has the very occasional sweary bit but not much at all and Steve usually apologises to any kids after which is always a nice touch. Go see it, you will not be disappointed.