REVIEW: Alice Cooper & Ace Frehley, Newcastle Entertainment Centre, Tuesday October 24

THERE’S no performer like Alice Cooper. No one combines the theatrical, the macabre and the humour with the perfect dose of rock’n’roll brilliance to prevent the spectacle becoming cheesy.

Much of that success can be contributed to Cooper’s marvelous backing band. Almost 50 years in the business has taught the 69-year-old you need to surround yourself with first-class professionals.

On Tuesday night the Newcastle Entertainment Centre was treated to a masterclass in rock’n’roll showmanship.

Cooper acted like a veteran conductor, weaving his cane or wand while guitarists Ryan Roxie and Nita Strauss shredded their fret boards. The 30-year-old Strauss was particularly mesmerising. Little wonder Guitar World magazine ranked her No.1 on the list of “10 Female Guitar Players You Should Know.”

GIG: Paul Carter and Sam Carter from Newcastle.

GIG: Paul Carter and Sam Carter from Newcastle.

Strauss was given her opportunity in the spotlight with a blistering solo, following Woman Of Mass Distraction. It quite frankly blew away the guitar theatrics Ace Frehley and his band tossed up earlier in the evening.

The first half of the show was basically a standard rock peformance. Cooper twirled and pointed his cane, while he gave the audience renditions of No More Mr Nice GuyDepartment Of Youth and Billion Dollar Babies.

Cooper’s voice may lack the strength of yesteryear, but he has maintained his superb timing and stage presence.

Following the crowd favourite Poison and drummer Glen Sobel’s devilish solo, the set took a more theatrical turn.

Cooper was turned into a giant Frankenstein monster during Feed My Frankenstein, then he danced with a human-sized doll for Cold Ethyl

Later, after the skeleton roadies bound Cooper in a straight jacket, Ethyl came to life and had the prince of darkness’ head chopped off by a guillotine during the dramatic Ballad Of Dwight Fry. It was humorous rather than grisly.

Then it was I’m Eighteen and School’s Out – including a Another Brick In The Wall off-shoot - in the anthemic encore.

SUN'S OUT, TONGUES OUT: Dave McNeill and B.B, from Cessnock.

SUN'S OUT, TONGUES OUT: Dave McNeill and B.B, from Cessnock.

Cooper was light on banter. Instead he focused on playing his role as the ringmaster of rock’n’roll mayhem. However, he did leave Newcastle with a characteristic farewell, “you’re all paranormal and I hope you have good nightmares. Happy Halloween.”

Earlier in the evening, Frehley’s set was dominated by songs from his former band KISS like Rocket Ride and Detroit Rock City and plenty of classic rock cliches. 

Frehley is not a natural frontman. Many of the songs felt forced and Frehley seemed more at home when drummer Scott Coogan took over the vocals.

In contrast to Cooper’s black humour, Frehley’s attempt at theatrics when his Gibson started smoking during a solo, felt like a Spinal Tap skit.

Alice Cooper setlist:

Brutal Planet​

No More Mr Nice Guy

Under My Wheels

Department Of Youth

Pain

Billion Dollar Babies

The World Needs Guts

Woman Of Mass Distraction

Poison

Feed My Frankenstein

Cold Ethyl

Only Women Bleed

Paranoiac Personality

Ballad Of Dwight Fry

I’m Eighteen

Encore:

School’s Out/Another Brick In The Wall