Melody Maker

Originally Published: November 13, 1971

Caught In The Act

Author: Chris Welch

Alice Cooper gave a most moving performance at London's Rainbow Theatre on Sunday night. She made me want to move right out of the theatre; out of the rock business; out of the country.

But I only got as far as the conveniently placed fountain in the foyer, where it was better to vomit than over the packed, wildly cheering audience.

It has to be said that Cooper achieves its objectives. Audience reaction. Arthur Brown would give his right dragon's teeth to induce the mixed emotions. Mine were uninformly unpleasant. Faint interest grew into crucifying boredom, which burgeoned to cold resentment.

It's just unfortunate if you don't like snakes or straitjackets. Too bad if you like rock music sufficiently to be dragged by its public executing.

The Alice Cooper band's performance was like seeing someone pretend to be blind to beg for money. Among the targets of their leering mockery were rock music, mental illness and sex.

There was a point, when the excellent light show and the energy of their playing began to convince me this was the archetypal all-American rock band. "This is what rock is all about, I suppose," I thought. "Isn't it great? That hypnotic beat. Wow."

But the truth emerged when somebody said: "What's the matter? Don't you like it?" Watching Cooper writhing in a strait jacket, mouthing incoherent lyrics, I couldn't believe it was a matter of enjoyment. I just wanted the cretin to take his arms out.

The strangely flat atmosphere of the Rainbow was dispelled at least. Lots ran down to the front and danced. More clapped and wet " 'ooray." And it's no good telling the leader what to do with his snake. That's part of the act.

The show began with Roger Spear with his Kinetic Wardrobe as a warm-up to Arthur Brown's new group, Kingdom Come, whose set I enjoyed, and seemed both funny and inventive. The band were much better than expected with a good drummer and lead guitarist. With the aid of Joe's Lights and Roger's line in giant mobile brains, they assembled a battery of props and ideas which predictably had nil effect on the audience.

America's greatest industry is packaging and its finest culture is advertising. Alice Cooper is crescendo and finale in gift-wrapped emptiness. Buy now. But your values cannot be refunded.