(July 19, 1997)
Originally Published: July 19, 1997
Author: Liam Sheils
City Hall, Newcastle
Saturday July 5th
Tampasm singer Charllotte Honey drawls languidly on a ciggie and smirks at seats in front of her, "I bet this is the best school assembly you've ever been to."
The new disciples of Manson have stayed away in their droves tonight. This is an old-school Alice Cooper show, with a crowd to match. You might expect south-coast riot girls Tampasm to struggle with an audience of receding mullets, but they acquit themselves well enough, sounding tighter and feister than their ramshackle early recordings would have you believe.
So, you arrive tonight thinking nothing but bad things about old Alice. You wonder how the crowd will react to the absence of spectacle - no gallows, no guillotine - you remember sourly how he's shamelessly aligned himsellf to nearly every one of rock's recent flavours (Desmond Child phase, the GN'R phase, the grunge phase), and you recall all the mediocre albums he's put out. You don't expect a thing from Alice Cooper in 1997.
Then, suddenly, Alice is in the house and your doubts evaporate. Alice fucking Cooper. Living legend, stager of some of the greatest shows rock music has ever seen, and the writer of some of the greatest songs. And he's brought with him the best band he's worked with since the original line-up of Buxton, Bruce, Dunaway and Smith. Sure, a couple of them used to be in Winger, but they're so efficient it defies belief, making even stadium fodder like 'Lost In America' sound stunning and giving the old stuff a stout hoof up the arse. 'Under My Wheels', 'I'm Eighteen', 'Billion Dollar Babies', 'No More Me Nice Guy', More classics than sunday night on the BBC. Even the normally dire 'Poison' glitters amongst such exaulted company.
Mr Manson and Mr Zombie ought to be themselves right now. The King is back on the road, and from now on big boys rules apply. They might have the look and the cutting edge sounds, but the best tunes still belong to Alice.
Most Rocking Moment: 'Go To Hell' - pure magic.
Least rocking Moment: Would 'Hello Hooray' and 'Teenage Lament '74' have been too much to ask for?
Best Onstage Quote: "Hong Kong - who need's it?" - The ever-topical Coop.
Verdict: The beast at his best.