Two words.. still recovering, or maybe just one word ‘wrecked’… Just from the concert that is… What a corker of a night in Sydney on Saturday at the Hordern Pavilion when we had the double delight of the legendary Mr Alice Cooper celebrating 40 years of touring Australia, with some awesome Ace Frehley hammering our heads beforehand… Wow, this was just the perfect night of rock! Whoever decided to bring the Spaceman in as a special guest is a genius. I couldn’t think of a better way to awaken my ear drums and torture my body than by letting go to some serious rock’n’roll battering by two phenomenal artists like this. I still have that ‘vague steamrolled head space’ feeling even now, you know the one, smash! But it’s oh so worth it. I am more than happy to spend the next two days suffering for these two world class rockers.
Before I move on to the man of the moment, I have got to give some love to the Spaceman himself. Like many Kiss fans, I’ve always had a big soft spot for Ace Frehley and love his Kiss and solo tunes, which are on regular rotation for me. The venue was virtually full as his set was about to begin, such is the respect that this man commands, and what a legacy he has within the world of music. Songs like ‘2,000 Man’, ‘Talk To Me’ and ‘New York Groove’ just to name a few. Ace and band, you were brilliant, it wasn’t just the guitar that was smokin’. Some of the best music rolled in with ‘too cool for school’, Ace still being his fun and charismatic self. As well as being in cracking form, it was just a pleasure to be there watching you all tear it up. I would love to see you guys back here for a headline tour in the near future and I’m pretty sure most of the crowd would agree.
Now that we’ve all been nicely tenderised, it’s time for some full blown roasting. The wicked Alice Cooper, celebrating an enormous milestone on this current Australian tour, and it doesn’t look like this juggernaut is slowing down any time soon. I was like a wide-eyed kid being thrown inside the world’s most heaviest and craziest fun park. This was a virgin Alice gig for me, a total lamb to the slaughter. I have been waiting years to revel in his live show and now I know why he’s still touring and has the iconic shock rocker tag accompanying his name. With over 50 years of giving it all to his craft, it’s an amazing achievement that not many accomplish. So worthy of all the worship is this man that, ironically, has a chick’s name. Knowing quite a few songs, reading all the stories, and seeing the headlines over the years isn’t the same as having the man himself welcome you into his ghoulish parade.
Then it began, it was heavy rock frenzy time and when the first sound of those hefty guitars on ‘Brutal Planet’ began, those heads started to bang. Oh God, it’s not just the planet that’s brutal, I think this concert is gearing up to be just the same. Classic gems like ‘No More Mr Nice Guy’, ‘Under My Wheels’ and ‘Department of Youth’ continue this first part of the night as the hair was flying…for those of us still lucky enough to have hair…
It’s a packed house with every type of person under the sun; young, old, parents bringing kids, men/women and some hard to tell ‘underneath all that make up’. But one thing’s for sure, the fans’ undying loyalty is on show. I don’t know where to look half the time. The stage is one big vibrating mecca of banging music and theatrics, and then there’s the crowd, thumping and air punching. So many tracks, ‘Pain’, ‘Billion Dollar Babies’, ‘The World Needs Guts’ and ‘Woman Of Mass Distraction’ playing at a savage pace. And Alice is doing his thing, so effortless and streamlined but with power and stamina. A unique and dazzling front man, I’m loving the live versions more on many songs across the evening and there are so many great moments, I can’t narrow down a favourite. Nita’s guitar solo was a very pleasant break from so much testosterone. What a cool gig she’s got, and being hot and talented doesn’t hurt either. I love ‘Poison’, as do the frenetic fans and ‘Halo Of Flies’ was dynamite. Some tracks just need that live treatment to break them out of their vinyl skin, and the latter is one of those.
More stage props coming to life as ‘Feed My Frankenstein’ kicks in. I love the giant costume terrorising the stage as it moved into the next song ‘Cold Ethyl’, with Alice dancing with a life size doll. It’s not just a newbie thing for me, it’s just so entertaining mixing horror, theatre and heavy cranking rock music. I can only imagine how mesmerised all the kids in the crowd would have been seeing Alice’s world come to life. You can see that look on many adult faces too, as it no doubt brings back childhood memories of being blown away by this maestro of metal throughout the years. Of course, 70’s anthem ‘Only Women Bleed’ is a big favourite for many and then it’s time for: ‘Paranoiac Personality’, ‘Ballad of Dwight Fry’, ‘Killer’ and ‘I love The Dead’. Fusing great lyrics and music with a straight jacket, and Alice’s own version of a goth Nurse Ratched, was incredibly engaging. For me, it was very symphonic, even as Alice’s head is chopped off. So strange to feel calm while watching horror. With props galore, we’ve had whips and swords and now a crutch appears on ‘I’m Eighteen’. Love it. No slowing down for Alice as it’s encore time with a steroid-pumped version of ‘School’s Out’ with some Pink Floyd ‘The Wall’ snippets. As bubbles swarm the stage, it’s more fist pumping and multiple guitars while giant balloons bounce over the crowd and confetti sprinkles down. We all love a big showy finale and Alice and band don’t disappoint. Everyone cheers and hopes for more, but alas, it’s the dreaded time to go home. But what a way to spend a Saturday night, perfect. This is way too much fun to have in one concert and I feel like I need to swing by the nearest church confessional in the morning and repeat a few Hail Mary’s.
What a cool dude you are Alice, not to mention wildly humorous and charming. I love all the pomp and tongue in cheek. Flashy, heavy rock at its best. You and the whole band are worth every sore muscle I’m still sporting today.
I think schools need to have rock concert excursions added to the curriculum. This was a lesson in not just great rock and heavy rock, but real entertainment, creativity and talent. Visually stimulating, while blasting your head apart, is quite an intoxicating combination that it’s no wonder we have this awe inspiring, nearly 70 year old man, still touring the world. I won’t repeat the Wayne’s World joke but everyone who has seen the movie knows what I’m talking about. On your knees people. A phenomenal gig to celebrate a rare milestone, 40 years in Australia and counting… ‘Alice, Alice, Alice’…..until next time, we will be waiting!