“Ol’ black eyes is back!” – Alice Cooper live from the Manchester and Leeds Arenas
The original shock rocker is back in town. Or towns, as the master of the macabre brings his world touring circus of horrors back to the UK and, more specifically for me, to Manchester and Leeds.
The all-new show features the old ghoul’s over-the-top, gruesome theatrics, married to his trademark brand of thunderous, precision-tooled rock stylings.
With this in mind, much credit must go to his fantastic, largely very youthful band, who peeled off crushing riffs and sensational shreds and posted a rock-solid bassline throughout.
And the titanic team’s standout player was statuesque lead guitarist, the headbanging, the high-kicking dynamo that is Nita Strauss. This energetic descendant of classical composer, Richard Strauss, proved she had inherited the family forte for musical brilliance – although the old boy might have raised an eyebrow at her skintight leather catsuits, jiu-jitsu moves and guitar heroine poses.
The stage set was a gothic castle, haunted by dagger-wielding serial killers, grotesquely deformed guards, spontaneously combusting brides, guillotines and terrifying, predatory giant babies.
Throughout the show, the rapidly costume changing Mr Cooper conducted proceedings with the fervour of a demented ringmaster. Invariably top-hatted and swinging a sword or baton, he looked the part, too.
He moves a bit arthritically these days, does Vincent Furnier, but he remains very firmly the star of the show and master of all he surveys – which, on all dates of this trek, is thousands of fans who can’t get enough of what The Coopster is offering.
There is no doubting his staying power, while his voice – never classically brilliant – has weathered the ravages of time, drug abuse and alcoholism to serve well the now squeaky clean, gnarly old rocker as he tops up the pension with possibly his last world tour (another huge schlepp across the States will follow shortly).
Taking some choice picks from his mammoth back-catalogue, Alice surprisingly left out hits such as ‘Elected’, ‘Hey Stoopid’ and ‘Only Women Bleed’ in favour of lesser known tracks, such as ‘Man Behind The Mask’ and ‘Feed My Frankenstein’.
Thankfully, my favourite, the intricate ‘Billion Dollar Babies’, was given a pitch perfect airing and the show was brought to the inevitable raucous singalong conclusion that is a joyous ‘School’s Out’, which cleverly sampled Floyd’s ‘Another Brick In The Wall’.
“Wow, he really gives value for money,” an awe-struck eleven-year-old girl, dressed up as her hero, told her more conventionally attired father on the way to the exit at Leeds, surrounded by goths, punks, rockers and ‘straights’ of all ages.