Metal Hammer

Metal Hammer - January 1987

Metal Hammer
(January 1987)

Originally Published: January 1987

Live On Stage

Alice Cooper

Author: Dave Ling

Wembley Arena

A massive hoarding outside the arena boldly advertised 'The Legendary Alice Cooper', but such a description is no idle boast. No siree, the seminal figure that inspired a generation has risen from the grave to remind us just what real shock rock is all about.

He's spawned more than his fair share of imitators over the years - some a lot better than others, of course - but there's only one Alice, and what we witnessed this evening was a show to make the young pretenders tremble in their stackheeled booties.

Buckets of blood, execution, mutilation, termination and a sick imagination are all the ingredients required to do it properly.

Picture the scene. There's a rowdy, jam-packed crowd with more on their minds than the usual form of Sunday worship. It's 8:50....that time of night when Vincent Furnier makes his fabled metamorphosis into his crazed alter ego.

The lights go down, a sea of hands go up and with a thunderous roar the most spectacular show of the year begins.

An eerie green light bathes the stage in its flourescent glow and 'Welcome To My Nightmare' is upon us. It's a devastating opening number, with Alice making a dramatic appearance and looking leaner, slimmer and far more healthy than I'd anticipated. Alice (as opposed to Vince) isn't the kind of bloke you'd relish meeting in an alleyway after dark, especially if he's in possession of a large silver sabre, and on this occasion Alice is. There's also a rather cute little pram too, which he swiftly overturns. Out falls a little baby and in time honoured tradition Alice kisses it on the head. Altogether, Aaaaahhh....

Then suddenly the baby is turned into a human shish kebab as the sabre neatly skewers its skull. Alice waves his delicacy triumphantly over his head and then boots it high into the air and the welcoming arms of a member of the crowd.

Alice Cooper, 1986 style, is a lot more metal than in the past. He's been fortunate to link up with guitarist Cain Roberts, a man built like a brick slaughterhouse, and who works well as a back-up to Cooper's outrageousness. There's always something important to look at with these boys around, and it's a tribute to the awesomeness of the show that I still had an untouched pint of beer at my feet at the end of the performance, it's that enthralling.

Meanwhile, back onstage Alice and his boize are whipping up a storm with a brace of Seventies classics. 'Billion Dollar Babies' is dusted down with supreme elegance, with 'No More Mr Nice Guy' continuing the stroll down memory lane. Old songs played with fresh vitality, it's an experience akin to meeting a friend you've not seen in years.

'Eighteen' sounded great too, with Alice singing the line 'I'm a boy but I'm a man' with tongue firmly in cheek. He's quite right though, as correct as a thirty-eight year old teenager can be.

He unveiled three numbers from his new 'Constrictor' LP, and mighty fine they were too. 'Hey you!' he hollers during the chorus of 'The World Needs Guts' and it's almost as though he's addressing each member of the crowd individually. The song's pure Vaudeville, with Cooper advising us to 'terminate the mutha' with a manical grin on his face.

The next number's another newie, the more commercial 'Give It Up', during which Alice brings on a lifesize dummy which he proceeds to swing around by it's hair and perform various perverse acts with. Finally the dummy ends up on the ground, covered in a veil of dry ice. When it dissipates the dummy's vanished and Alice sings a mournful 'Only Women Bleed', with a crescendo of keyboards backing him up all the way. Truly dramatic stuff, and placed at the perfect point in the set to achieve maximum impact. Things burst back into life with the tastefully entitled 'Go To Hell'. A scantily-clad exotic dancer appears and brandishes a whip in Alice's direction. Needless to say, the man is ready for this intrusion and deals with her in the only way he knows how; a good whipping back, and away with you wench.

From here on in, the visuals really start going over the top. A phony photographer appears from the wings and gets his comeuppance as the evil Mr Cooper impales him with a mikestand.

These dark theatrics persist through the chilling 'I Love The Dead'. A guillotine is dragged stage centre and it's obvious what's gonna happen next. Alice is forced to put his head beneath the blade, but not before he's spat in the executioners face. The greenie is soon wiped away, and an unusual silence descends upon the crowd. Cooper's voice suits the dramatics of the situation, and the intense combination of keyboards and melodic guitar tie down the musical side of things. Suddenly everything goes quiet, the blade drops and Mottram gets another drenching in rhesus negative plasma. The executioner holds aloft the dismembered head, while the crowd equally divides between nausea and amusement.

Before the hullaballoo can die down though, Cain Roberts launches into THAT RIFF and pandemonium ensues as the band start the one they've all been waiting for, 'School's Out'. How can they follow that? Well, by playing 'Elected' and 'Under My Wheels' for a start. Simply breathtaking in their magnitude, these two songs took the crowd over the edge. Chugging guitars, pounding drums and Cooper's growling vocals, plus a liberal helping of synthesizer all helped to make this diamond duo a highlight of the show.

The world needs Alice, and that's very good news indeed.