You would have thought that as his 70th birthday approached Alice Cooper would be starting to take it easy and tone things down a bit but tonight’s show at The Manchester Arena was a full on performance lasting almost 2 hours, covering 14 0f Alice’s 27 studio albums including the latest one, Paranormal.
As the pa booms out “you have been chosen to spend a night with Alice Cooper” the curtain drops and Alice and the band tear straight into Brutal Planet, Under My Wheels and Lost In America without pausing for breath. This is rock and roll as it should be played, loud and fast with an iconic singer and a band that are on fire.
Alice prowls the stage gesturing and threatening the audience with whips, swords and even a crutch yet never losing sight of what its all about, the music.
Yes the theatrics are still a big part of the show, costume changes, the guillotine and the Frankenstein monster, but what was once genuinely macabre and shocking is much more light hearted and doesn’t detract from the music.
Its the music that gets the crowd up and you realise what a great band Alice has put together as they plunder the Alice Cooper catalogue. Like rock concerts of old the band all get their solo’s (mainly I guess to give Alice chance to make his costume changes), with guitarist Nina Strauss playing some classic riffs during Woman Of Mass Destruction leading into a superb version of Poison as Alice reappeared on stage.
An extended version of Halo Of Flies was given an orchestral makeover and featured some virtuoso bass and drum playing.
Much talked about has been Alice’s reunion with original band members Mike Bruce, Dennis Dunaway and Neal Smith (sadly Glen Buxton died in 1997) and after a classic I Love The Dead finale the three original members joined Alice on stage for a five song encore of greatest hits.
I’m Eighteen,Billion Dollar Babies,No More Mr Nice Guy and Muscle Of Love all have the crowd on their feet but its that classic, iconic anthem Schools Out that raises the roof and with a neat twist it morphs into Another Brick In The Wall, maybe a nod to Bob Ezrin, Alice’s long-time producer and also producer of Pink Floyd.
The night ends with enormous, colourful balloons bouncing round the Arena crowd but tonight it was the music that stole the show. Alice is still the King of Rock!