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ALICE COOPER, Manchester Apollo
approaching his 64th birthday, Alice Cooper shows no sign of slowing
down. With the Old School box set and the excellent Welcome 2 My
Nightmare hitting the shelves this year, 2011 has been a good one for
fans of 'old panda eyes'. And an even better one for the lucky few who
caught his intimate 'back to basics' 100 Club gig in June.
It seems like only yesterday that the Coop was on these shores promoting
'Along Came A Spider' with his 'Theatre Of Death' tour. But in the two
years since he's once again linked up with Bob Ezrin and gathered old
friends and new to come up with his finest album in several decades.
It's a pity therefore, that the Halloween Night Of Fear dates don't
major on 'Welcome 2 My Nightmare'. In fact, we get only one track - the
standout I'll Bite Your Face Off (signposted by 'New Song' written large
across the back of Alice's jacket and the song title scrawled in blood
on the back of his shirt). No, underneath the Halloween badging, the
show is just the latest leg of his No More Mr Nice Guy tour - one that's
been on the road for the best part of the year.
And as on
the Theatre Of Death tour it attempts to cover the majority of bases
from Alice's vast 26 studio album back catalogue. Many numbers, of
course, pick themselves although it's telling that the majority of the
set (just) comes from that golden three year period between 1971 and
1973 when the original Alice Cooper band swept all before them.
Of course, the remaining members of the original band re-grouped for
several numbers on the new album and we can only hope that perhaps, just
perhaps, they could be persuaded to reform for a Love It To Death /
Killer anniversary tour. Now that really would be something.
But in the meantime, Alice continues to do what only Alice does better
than anyone. That is, put on a visual and aural rock extravaganza. And
like Premier League table topping Roberto Mancini's Manchester City, the
strength in depth is quite astonishing.
the bench go the likes of 'Department Of Youth', 'Ballad Of Dwight Fry',
'Go To Hell', 'Welcome To My Nightmare', 'From The Inside', 'Nurse
Rozetta', 'Be My Lover', 'Black Widow', and 'Dirty Diamonds', and in
come 'Brutal Planet', 'Hey Stoopid', 'Halo Of Flies', 'I'll Bite Your
Face Off', 'Muscle Of Love', 'Feed My Frankenstein', 'Clones (We're
All)' and 'Elected'.
The band gets a shuffle too with old stalwart Steve Hunter returning to
the fold, Tommy Henricksen (who features heavily on Welcome 2) replacing
Keri Kelli, and young blonde female guitar prodigy Orianthi (she's
opened for Steve Vai, backed Carrie Underwood and jammed with Carlos
Santana) replacing Damon Johnson.
they make a blistering three pronged guitar strike force. While at the
back, Chuck Garric continues to anchor the rhythm section with Glen
Sobel coming in on drums.
Alice invited the audience to turn up appropriately dressed. Yes,
there were corpse brides and assorted members of the undead in
attendance. But the scariest by far was a grandmother in her blue rinse
and twin set in the row in front who felt the need to punch the air
throughout every number.
If there is
a complaint it's that the pace of the show doesn't lend itself to
spontaneity or provide a platform for Alice to engage with the audience
on a storytelling basis, instead it rips from one number to the next
with barely a pause for a costume or prop change.
As entertainment goes though, it was second to none. From the boa
wielding 'Is It My Body', through the guillotine separated 'Wicked Young
Man' and 'Killer', the quite magnificent 'Feed My Frankenstein' replete
with 10 foot ‘monster', the inspired linking of 'School's Out' and
'Another Brick In The Wall', and the tumultuous finale of 'Elected' it
was a masterful performance.
man's vocals seem (unlike many of his contemporaries) undiminished by
the passage of time. Like Manchester City sitting pretty at the top of
the Premiership, no one else even comes close.
Pre-gig, Alice invited the audience to turn up appropriately
dressed. Yes, there were corpse brides and assorted members of the
undead in attendance. But the scariest by far was a grandmother in her
blue rinse and twin set in the row in front who felt the need to punch
the air throughout every number. Welcome 2 the magnificent, and surreal,
world of Alice Cooper.
Set list: Black Widow / Brutal Planet / I'm Eighteen / Under My Wheels /
Billion Dollar Babies / No More Mr Nice Guy / Hey Stoopid / Is It My
Body / Halo Of Flies / I'll Bite Your Face Off / Muscle Of Love / Only
Women Bleed / Cold Ethyl / Feed My Frankenstein / Clones (We're All) /
Poison / Wicked Young Man / Killer / I Love The Dead / School's Out /
Photos by Steve Goudie
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