12 October 2019

Alice Cooper with guests The Stranglers, MC50s. Birmingham 11th October 2019

It is an early time for Wayne Kramer and company to hit the stage at Birmingham’s Resorts World arena but 7 o’clock has never seemed so good. Now named the MC50’s, 50 years after the MC5’s debut album, see what they did there, and with the esteemed company of Kim Thayil from Soundgarden, Brendan Canty from Fugazi and Billy Gould from Faith No More together with Marcus Durant, as opening bands go I don’t know if you can get better. 40 minutes of fast-paced songs featuring ‘Sister Annie’ about a nymphomaniac nun, ‘Kick out the Jams’ and ‘Looking at You’  dedicated to the ‘orange’ man “let’s kick him out of the white house to the big-house”. It’s great to see the political edge is still a vital part of this super group. A great performance.

If only Arsenal could  play a solid  50 minutes straight as well as The Stranglers could they may be in the Champions League. Clad in black, the foursome mix carefully, catering for a different audience, old and new material, including their big hits such as ‘Golden Brown’ which the audience find their collective voice. ‘Walk on By’ and ‘No More Heroes’ sound fabulous also. Many people in the crowd would not have necessarily attended a Stranglers gig but after their set many would have been converted. A job done well!

The time is approaching 9:30 and the backdrop drops revealing a medieval castle is the set for tonight’s main show. This, as it always is with Alice Cooper, is pure theatre. ‘Feed my Frankenstein’ begins the show, which includes a large Frankenstein attempting to get onto the stage, Strauss, Roxie and Henriksen using every inch of the platform and Uncle Alice himself, clad in leather trousers, a white top and a cane – which is thrown to some lucky person in the crowd within minutes. Levels, lighting and props are used cleverly and to the maximum effect but don’t be fooled in thinking an Alice Cooper gig is more about style than substance. ‘Feed my Frankenstein’ is followed by ‘No more Mr Nice Guy’ which is followed by ‘Bed of Nails’. Three songs in which any rock band would give their right arm to have in their back catalogue. The giant inflatable evil baby isn’t something you see everyday in Birmingham, one hopes,  and together with monsters, confetti cannons, audience interactions and vast amount of falling balloons, this 71 year old yet again gives the audience every penny,s worth. ‘Poison’, ‘I’m Eighteen’ , ‘Billion Dollar Babies’ ‘Muscle of Love’ are all played, as well as ‘I love the Dead’, ‘Escape’ and ‘Fallen in Love’ and ‘He’s Back’, whereas a murder happens and the masked killer prowls the stage.

In wouldn’t be an Alice Cooper show if he wasn’t decapitated by a guillotine and he did not disappoint.

The set is well paced, the stage-craft from Mr Cooper and his extraordinary band is top drawer and the theatrics are second to none. The encore of  ‘Under my Wheels’, my favourite ever Cooper song, then ‘Schools Out’ completes the evening, the whole auditorium alive with balloons, cheers and joy.

It sounds strange that all this blood, gore and horror-show theatrics can bring joy and happiness but Alice Cooper and his band together with a tremendous back catalogue and an audience that were loving every minute did just that. Alice, or his fans do not take themselves too seriously. This is pantomime – albeit it with unbelievable riffs.

Alice Cooper for Prime Minister. Yes please.

Photo credit Damien John Photo, see full gallery