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.”
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 Guy, Department 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.
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:
No More Mr Nice Guy
Under My Wheels
Department Of Youth
Billion Dollar Babies
The World Needs Guts
Woman Of Mass Distraction
Feed My Frankenstein
Only Women Bleed
Ballad Of Dwight Fry
School’s Out/Another Brick In The Wall