Alice Cooper is undisputedly the king of shock-rock. His discography is full of anthemic hits and his history of headlines are controversial, but it’s always come back to the music and the high octane show he continues to deliver as a performer.
Over the past 10 years his live show hasn’t changed too drastically since his ‘No More Mr. Nice Guy Tour’ in 2011, so his last three visits to Australia have seen a very similar live show making the rounds. But for his ‘Ol’ Black Eyes Is Back Tour’ he’s revamped the entire show to give fans a real rock n roll experience with some new thrills and live rarities.
After an evil-toned voiceover welcomed the audience to “Alice Cooper’s nightmare castle”, the curtain dropped to reveal a huge and highly detailed castle on the stage with four chandeliers hanging from the roof. With the doors of the castle opening to reveal Cooper, he launched straight into ‘Feed My Frankenstein’ with his high energy clad band who were already running around the stage and doing show-tricks on their guitars.
The 90 minute show was ultimately a celebration of his long and impressive career with hits like ‘No More Mr. Nice Guy’, Under My Wheels’, ‘I’m Eighteen’, ’Billion Dollar Babies’ and ‘Poison’ scattered around the first half of the set. But he also took the opportunity to play live rarities that fans wanted to hear like ‘Bed Of Nails’, ‘Raped And Freezin’, ‘Muscle Of Love’, ‘He’s Back (The Man Behind The Mask) as well as one of his newer tracks ‘Fallen In Love’ which he played on the harmonica.
And he kept that trend of old fan favourites trickling through the second half of the set with ‘Roses On White Lace’, ‘Steven’, ‘Dead Babies’, ‘Escape’ and ‘Teenage Frankenstein’ making their impactful appearance.
It wouldn’t be an Alice Cooper show without some theatrics, but for this tour he left out the “some” part and just gave the audience ALL of the theatrics.
Every song seemed to have their own little theatrical moment built into it, whether it was just a jacket or a costume change, a big band solo or a specially curated theatrical moment.
A giant frankenstein puppet stormed across the stage during ‘Feed My Frankenstein’ and ‘Teenage Frankenstein’, while a giant baby tore down one of the castle’s towers and ran across the stage during ‘Dead Babies’. You then had dollar bill confetti shot over the audience on a catapult during ‘Billion Dollar Babies’ and even had Cooper wearing a straightjacket for ‘Steven’.
Things also got a little bloody throughout the show with a fan getting “murdered” on stage during ‘He’s Back (Man Behind The Mask), his wife getting thrown off the castle during ‘Roses On White Lace’ and Cooper also did his infamous decapitation via guillotine during ‘Dead Babies’
And that’s only some of the theatrical moments.
The theatrical nature of the show saw Cooper not formally addressing the crowd by talking to them until the encore because it would break the realism flow of the torture and horror elements that he had built the set around.
So the first time they heard his speaking voice was when he introduced his electrifying band during the appropriate closer ‘Schools Out’.
With giant balloons of glitter bouncing across the crowd and confetti falling from the ceiling, Cooper stood at the edge of the stage with a sword and playfully started popping the balloons. After all the balloons were popped he thanked the crowd for coming out and closing this Australia tour with him, and did one final bow.
From start to finish, this show was an entertaining display of shock-rock with an array of theatrical elements that constantly surprised the crowd. But when you strip away all the theatrics, Cooper was still very much on top of his game as a performer and a vocalist. And his accompanying live band were some of the best musicians I’ve seen in a very long time. He may have wanted the show to feel like a sadistic nightmare, but it ended up feeling like a rock-n-roll dream.
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Photos by Zac Montgomery