Alice Cooper (born Vincent Damon Furnier; February 4, 1948) is an American singer, songwriter, and actor whose career spans over 50 years. With his distinctive raspy voice and a stage show that features guillotines, electric chairs, fake blood, deadly snakes, baby dolls, and dueling swords, Cooper is considered by music journalists and peers alike to be “The Godfather of Shock Rock” Since 1975 he has released some 21 studio albums and a fistful of live releases. Cooper has always surrounded himself with top musicians for his live shows. The resurgence of Alice Cooper in 1986 with Kane Roberts is testament to that with the release of Constrictor album, and the The Nightmare Returns Tour. If I recall Alice last played Brighton in 2006 on the brilliant Dirty Diamonds tour. So, welcome back, and Good To See You Again Alice Cooper.
The Story Unfolds
The lights went out, the opening sound fx and spooky Years Ago music heralded the beginning of the night with “Yes, Yes, I know you are hungry!” the magnificent intro as the curtain dropped to Feed My Frankenstein. The sold out, packed to capacity Brighton Center was ready for this as the very music itself was drowned out by the huge cheer that went up as Alice came through the gateway of Nightmare Castle.
Alice Cooper swaggered his way to the front of the stage, twirling his baton, he stops and seems to stop and sniff the air before he launches full tilt into the song. What an entrance from the legendary Alice Cooper. Even the 15ft Igor managed to enter stage left for a brief appearance, managing to hit his head on only one of the chandeliers! The guitars started up and No More Mr Nice Guy, from one of my top10 albums of all time Billion Dollar Babies, was up next. I had seen the set list before the show and was excited to see songs I had not seen done live before on there. Gone were some of the songs that have been incorporated in almost every set since the 80’s – gone was Cold Ethyl, Only Women Bleed and The Ballard Of Dwight Fry – this was indeed a massive shake up!
Up next from the superb album Trash was the house shakin’ Bed Of Nails. The early mic issues were now sorted and Alice was truly in the building, the megalomaniac Alice Cooper was in full stride and ready to thrill and chill his disobedient children! Ol’ Black Eyes is Back!
Alice Cooper: The Band.
Good to see many of Alice’s regulars on stage tonight, again some changes the wonderful Nita Strauss aka The Hurricane on guitars and much jumping and swirling of hair. No Chuck Garric tonight on bass and always great at involving the crowd as he is doing his Beasto Blanco stuff.
Glen Sobel: drums
Nita Strauss – The Hurricane: lead and rhythm guitar
Ryan Roxie: lead and rhythm guitar
Tommy Henriksen: rhythm and lead guitar
Chris Wyse: bass
and a special guest…. on bass guitar…
The Nightmare Returns
Back to the Billion Dollar babies album for the track Raped and Freezin’ – a demented little tale of robbery and sexual assault down Mexico way. The song culminated with some red caped imaginary bull fighting moves involving Nita.
From the older material we were transported slap bang back up to date from the latest album from Alice, Paranormal, and the track we got was the massively infectious Fallen In Love, as Alice plays a mean harmonica section. The band did a fine job on this, the album version of the song features Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top. A Superb rendition. I would love to have seen American Girls on the set list as this displays Alice at his creative humorous best, ah well maybe next time! The title track from the last album by the original Alice Cooper Group was up next, Muscle of Love and saw Alice out shaking his maracas! The song ended as Alice beckoned us to watch…..
Two young girls tripping across the stage, taking selfies – don’t go deeper into the woods girls – go home…. One of the girls climbed the castle steps as the shadowy figure of Jason Vorhees appeared. Darn to late! Jason dispatches with a swift slice of his machete. He’s Back, The Man Behind The Mask (Friday The 13th part 6) was the song performed against the backdrop of the events on the balcony of the castle.
I’m Eighteen and Billion Dollar Babies survived the set list update. Alice grabbing a crutch to move about the stage for Eighteen. Babies saw a catapult wheeled onto the stage and as Alice waved his sabre the canon spat out, firing green fake dollars and a huge amount of green and yellow streamers over the heads of the audience.
Some fine fretwork from The Hurricane led into the drop for Poison, Alice’s last big UK hit. And it was fabulous “You’re all poison” he snarled as the lights died. Roses on White Lace, an odd choice for me from the album Raise Your Fist, saw a blood spattered bride gliding around the stage whilst Alice sang with all the menace of an escaped serial killer. Another rare live outing was set for My Stars from Schools Out, again an odd choice but totally enjoyable. We were then treated to a instrumental section comprising of a medley from Devils Food and a jaw droppingly good drum solo from Glen. His prowess from his early appearances has improved greatly and he has to be now up there in the top drummers in the world. The melodic section came from the song Steven, again great to see this one done live.
The Horror That He Brings…
We got it all tonight. A pinch of sex, a generous sprinkle of death and a facefull of horror all washed down with a copious amount of theatrical blood. Its all here for almost 90 minutes. Cooper doesn’t stop as he moves around the stage threatening the audience and members of the band. It is, in the main, Gaiman styled comic book scenes but there are gruesome segments still to come. Cooper, having been restrained by a straitjacket, breaks free as Mrs Cooper pushes a pram onto the stage.
He snatches the baby (its a doll!) and places it on the stage, he vanishes and returns with a cleaver. He attempts to attack the doll with said meat cleaver during Dead Babies, Alice proved he can still do it, the audience stood motionless, as this was for many, the most unsettling moment of the night.
Heads Will Roll
Alice doesn’t get away with it as he is grabbed, and to be met with a guillotine wheeled on stage. He is locked into position…
The drums roll and a scream of Die, Die, Die fills the auditorium. The blade drops and justice is served for his crimes as his head drops into the basket. The band break into the chorus of I love The Dead
Alice the villain is dead, and the band kick in with another instrumental break. A huge Billion Dollar Baby took to the stage, grabbing the freshly severed head and proceeded to dance around the stage clutching its prize.
And the villain of the night reappears to a crowd pleaser Escape as Alice shakes of his straight jacket and throws it to the floor. Guitars and drums fire at us again, this show is purely unstoppable as Teenage Frankenstein was delivered as a knock out punch to the end of the set.
What a treat tonight turned out to be. The mix of some of the very early 70’s material in the set and the inclusion of material from the mid-80’s works well together. Alice and the cast of players returned for an encore and first set off into Under My Wheels, a real growler of a tune and good to see it has remained in the set.
I vividly remembering seeing this song on Top Of The Pops for the first time. I have been lucky to meet the Coop twice and autographed photos are amongst my most prized music items. This was the last song of the night. The song again now pushed back to the finale spot, and Schools Out with the inclusion of the sample of Another Brick In The Wall is an unbeatable way to finish the show. The balloons drop after the school bell rings, he is back!
Dressed in white coat and top hat, suitably spattered with blood! Alice attacks the balloons with his sword and later with a switch-blade. The crowd also doing their best to puncture this monstrous orbs, each filled with copious amounts of confetti. If you were paying attention you might have caught a snippet of Cream’s Sunshine Of Your Love , a tribute to Ginger Baker who had passed away a few days before. Respect. A nice touch Mr Cooper, you aint all bad.
Cooper is still one of rock’s greatest theatrical showmen, and he had one final surprise for us. He introduced bass player Dennis Dunaway, yes the real DD. The original bass player for the Alice Cooper group. That was a thrill for me as DD had swapped with me a note by note bass tutorial for Gutter Cat a few years ago. But there he was, live on stage. A great sight.
A VIDEO: Alice Cooper – Live – Billion Dollar Babies
So good to see Alice back in Brighton. He gave us a lesson in how to put on and present a show. The crowd was huge and some great outfits on display, and blacked up eye make up was everywhere. I am not sure how many times Alice has died, but I sure hope he manages to come back to do it again in Brighton.
The lights and FX were top notch. A huge well done to the sound crew, tonight it was clear and punchy and nice and loud without being painful. The staff at the Brighton Center are brilliant, all of them are really focused on helping you have a great night out. Thank you guys.
Alice Cooper on the spiders web here
Thank you Cris Watkins for the use of one of your images, he has an online home here.
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