Originally Published: July 1998
Author: Essi Berelian
Roll up! Roll up! Witness the circus macabre - marvel at the slick showmanship, gasp at the cod theatrics and thrill at the unmitigated spectacle of one of rock's great drama queens playing demon ringmaster in a real rock and roll extravaganza.
Rumour had it that this sinister circus concept had actually little changed from last year's appearance at the Astoria, when the faithful turned up by the thousands to worship at the temple of Alice. According to various sources, however, those performances were positively minimalist compared to the excess on show now. Having missed that particular visitation, this incarnation of Alice Cooper phenomenon was, at least visually, a new one to me. And an immense amount of fun too.
One thing you can be sure of at an Alice Cooper show is some real entertainment - the schlock horror posturing is always intact and you're guaranteed of a tastelessly guady showcase of fantastic songs. And, let's face it, Alice has got some excellent material to choose from - 'Under My Wheels', 'Billion Dollar Babies', 'Schhol's Out' - the man is responsible for some of the defining cuts of the last 30 years.
He's also the pioneer of the first really sinister stage persona, the type of concept appropriated by the likes of Marilyn Manson, the difference being that Alice plays up the inherently comic and vaudevillian aspects rather than merely trying to shock. Thus he has his very own insane clown posse to harass and torment him throughout the show; they fire catapults at the band, they toy with constricting serpants and finally impale Alice on swords during a niftily gruesome stage illusion. It's tacky, it's cheesy, it's plain daft - but it's also prime time escapism parading as malevolent misanthropy, and no one else does it this brilliantly. (9/10)