The original godfather of shock rock, Ol’ Black Eyes himself, Alice Cooper is back in town. The often-imitated-but-never-bettered singer and self-proclaimed “vaudeville performer” is the embodiment of a musical living legend and, last night, he returned to Adelaide for the second show of his Aussie ‘Ol’ Black Eyes Is Back’ tour. Once feared for his wild and crazy antics yet also a performer on The Muppet Show, Alice’s performances are always a blueprint for what a rock show should be: pure entertainment.
Entertainment is what we get, opening with MC50, Wayne Kramer’s continuation of the classic MC5, which is a blast of rock showmanship. While you would consider this a supergroup, featuring members of Soundgarden and Faith No More, it is Kramer who oversees this rock space station as they ‘Kick Out The Jams’ to an already quickly filling theatre.
Aussie larrikins Airbourne are a nod to the old-school barroom boogie that has made so many of this country’s rock bands iconic. They are energetic and lively with their anthemic choruses such as ‘Stand Up for Rock N Roll’ and ‘Boneshaker.’ Meanwhile, leader Joel O‘Keefe’s penchant for running through the crowd while riffing away delivers more entertainment than you can headbang your wavy hair to.
The ringmaster of last night’s horror circus, though, is the man affectionately known as The Coop. Opening with the Wayne’s World classic ‘Feed My Frankenstein,’ the three-guitar attack is as gargantuan and celebrated as Frankenalice, a 12-foot-tall Alice Cooper Frankenstein monster that appears throughout the set.
‘No More Mr Nice Guy’ had never sounded so alive while bringing out some of the more obscure tracks. ‘Raped And Freezin’’ and ‘Fallen In Love’ are greeted like long-lost friends as Cooper leads the crowd the way a bullfighter leads his partner in their game of danger. He goes to every part of the stage and connects with as many faces as he can, never once stopping to catch his breath.
The stage design is the ‘Nightmare Castle’ set, which allows band members to play atop the turrets with stage lights disguised as chandeliers. The sensory overload of sounds, feels and visuals reaches high voltage as notorious silver screen serial killer Jason Vorhees of Friday the 13th appears to slay a selfie-loving teenager, met with a raucous cheer from the audience.
The composing guitar styles of blues-lover Ryan Roxie and shredder Nita Strauss add texture to classic tracks such as ‘I’m Eighteen’ and ‘Under My Wheels,’ making the performance as vibrant as ever.
Any casual observer of Alice Cooper knows that the show’s main protagonist will be beheaded after committing a dastardly act. Despite having now witnessed this scene multiple times, the audience still thinks of this as one of rock’s most iconic moments.
There is still time for Frankenalice to cause more mayhem on stage again before ‘Schools Out,’ with Alice finishing the show wearing a Port Power shirt under his Australian flag-adorned white suit.
Amidst the giant balloons bouncing around the arena, the streamers and loose ‘Billion Dollar Babies’ banknotes, it’s easy to forget that ‘The Man Behind The Mask’ is a 72-year-old family man. Last night, however, the performer who told a captivating story through music, drama, tears and laughter is Alice Cooper; the original and best shock horror master of musical vaudeville entertainment.
Friday, 14 February 2020 – MELBOURNE, Rod Laver Arena
Saturday, 15 February 2020 – SYDNEY, Qudos Bank Arena
Tuesday, 18 February 2020 – BRISBANE, Brisbane Entertainment Centre
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Photos: Peter Pap