Thursday, November 16, 2017

Alice Cooper @ SSE Arena, Wembley, London - November 16th, 2017

At almost seventy, the man formerly known as Vincent Furnier has nothing left to prove. He doesn't need to release new records, and he could easily phone in his performances like some of his costumed contemporaries. But he is a song and dance man, an entertainer. For an hour and a half, the man formerly known as Vincent Furnier lets his creation take over. This Frankenstein's monster name is Alice Cooper, and he only exists on the stage.

Alice Cooper has been giving rock fans nightmares since the late sixties, and the character has evolved quite a bit since his inception. One thing has remained consistent however: the quality of his show. Even at the height of his addictions, Alice took pride in delivering the goods.

His latest record is called Paranormal and was released a little under four months ago. Naturally, he's embarked on a world tour to promote it and tonight that tour hits the English capital. As an added treat, it was announced that the remaining members of the original Alice Cooper Band would join him on that date to perform some of their classics. This was a date not to be missed.

The Tubes opened the show and played a fun set, they were very famous here in England and the audience embraced them warmly. The same came not be said for the following band: the Mission were just awful.

But after the curtain dropped to reveal Alice and his band playing Brutal Planet, nothing else mattered. What followed was 90 minutes of pure rock and roll. Fun, exciting, scary and funny. Alice's voice is incredibly strong, his band is impossibly talented and the setlist was perfect: all the classics of course, and some deep cuts to please the die-hards. The show is the tightest it's ever been: not an ounce of fat, one clever bit after the other.

But then after the Master gets decapitated, the stage turned black and the (almost) original Alice Cooper came out to play their first hit, I'm Eighteen. My section of the venue went ballistic. What a thrill to see these guys together again. No offence to any of the fantastic musicians that have been at Alice's side over the years, but these guys have something unique. Neal Smith's drums and Dennis Dunaway's bass have to be the most atypical rhythm section in hard rock.

After the mini-set by the veterans, both bands came together on stage to play the climactic School's Out. By the time the lights came back and the smell of pyro had dissipated, Alice was long gone. Vincent Furnier however was probably on his way back to the hotel. In a couple of days he will summon the beast again and unleash it upon another consenting audience. The show goes on, always.

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