Theatrics in a show context are somewhat overlooked today. Alice Cooper’s onstage antics and design for his concerts are a thing of beauty. His take on vaudeville, horror and all out loud rock tunes were figments of my imagination. The remnants of stories my uncle used to tell me. I may be showing my age here, but man alive, I must say I was captivated by his memories. Like when he told me Alice came out wearing live snakes in the middle of a show.
Yeah that’s right. Live. Fucking. Snakes!
Samuel L Jackson better move his motherfuckin’ ass over, because he’s got nothing to complain about.
The tour was in support of his latest musical endeavour, titled Paranormal. Check it out, even if you’re not a fan. It’s some brilliant work by a brilliant artist, and it’s taking his style through with a bit of a modern twist. It’s still Alice doing what Alice does and any fan of his work will appreciate it, but don’t be a fuckin’ sheep you have your own opinion. Listen to it yourself.
Opening for the Godfather of Shock at the start was an Aussie band by the name of Strangers and I must give them credit. They tried their hardest to grab the attention of an audience that heard them as background noise and a delay from the main attraction. I personally enjoyed their sound. It was raw, authentic and straight up meaty rock. Probably not the best vibe captured though, classic case of wrong band at the wrong time. But kudos to them for putting their all into it.
Now the real fun opened when The Ace Frehley Band took the stage. This is a man who cut his line in the concrete with mega band KISS, my standards were already high enough. Space Ace seems to still have it, his chops on the old six-string are still flaming as evident with his solo material. Most tricks that KISS fans know of are instantly recognizable, from his custom guitars spitting smoke to a brilliantly performed rendition of Detroit Rock City. I heard that intro and I was singing along every word. I was out of my seat and moving my feet, a-fuckin’-men!
Honestly though, his songs are made of solid stuff. But Ace himself is slowly losing his touch. I love the guy, I do, but I was expecting perhaps too much of him. He’s seen his fair share of “Sex, Drugs and Rock’n’Roll” and the years have worn off the keenness of the Spaceman in his prime. Now that being said, it was a glorious opener. His band are clearly capable of holding him up where he falls. The drummer sang lead for Detroit and a few other hits and nailed the notes, the bassist also had a chance for a brilliantly plucked and dynamic solo. He somehow channeled the spirit of John Entwistle before my very eyes.
But then the whole stadium goes black. You see smoke, and then a booming voice bounds out to invite us to spend a night with the legend himself. The self-proclaimed man with a face for radio is coming. The familiar chugging of guitars, a chock-full grinder of a bass and drums that even Satan whimpers from echo around you. The curtain drops. The band is there, kicking into the intro for Brutal Planet. And cloaked in black, coming out from the back, there he is. His black eyes, ragged hair, slightly hooked nose and the aura that was carried told me that those old memories from uncle were less than anything the mind could remember. You had to witness this glory. With a slow raise of his hand, the entire stadium shook from cheering. Seriously, the only thing needs to do is raise a hand, such incredible presence. Then the cloak comes off…
A massive bang of sparkles explodes and the show begins. Everyone here’s going nuts and singing themselves silly. Straight out of Brutal Planet, they launch themselves into No More Mr. Nice Guy. The transitions alone from song to song, trick to trick, there was a whole spiel with Feed My Frankenstein. It involved a 12-foot-tall costume singing the hook in a demonic register and all. The whole show was just going at full pelt like a machine with plenty of elbow grease.
The set list itself was full of nothing but hits, the newest single Paranoiac Personality was warmly received, but tunes like Under My Wheels, I’m Eighteen, Billion Dollar Babies and Poison were blown out of the water. Only Women Bleed certainly took me on a trip though, a beautifully constructed piece turned chaotic and wonderfully displayed on the stage. Don’t even get me started on how they had three fucking guitarists for the whole night. It was so overkill, but by the same token it was so necessary! And then you have Nita “Hurricane” Strauss’s guitar section and Glenn Sobel’s drum solo. One word for those two: Untouchable. And Mr Cooper, at the ripe young age of sixty-nine is still singing note for note, nearly perfectly. He never broke out of character or style and remained elegant and in control of the audience. We were putty in his hands.
My personal favourite moment though, was Halo of Flies. No metaphorical stone was left unturned, the group did justice to one of the most successful progressive rock songs in the history of music. Was I flabbergasted? Perhaps. Overwhelmed? Rather quite. Impressed? Fucking hell, if you weren’t impressed by this show, I don’t think anyone can help you.
But, if you need a cure, take old Patch’s words of wisdom. Book yourself an appointment with Alice Cooper, and prepare for a wild ride. Even Ace Frehley came out at the end to join in on School’s Out. If it’s good enough for a guitar god, it’s more than you’ll ever need.
Rogue Rating - 5 out of 5 Horns
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