Raw

Originally Published: October 16, 1991

Wembley '91

Author: Matt Silk

Alice Cooper
Wembley Arena, London

30 September 1991
Verdict: The Stuff Of Legends

Set list: 'Under My Wheels', 'Trash', 'No More Mr Nice Guy', 'Billion Dollar Babies', 'Love's A Loaded Gun', 'Bed Of Nails', 'Eighteen', 'Sick Things', 'Feed My Frankenstein', 'Cold Ethyl', 'Only Women Bleed', 'Wind-Up Toy', 'The Ballad Of Dwight Fry', 'Poison', 'Dirty Dreams', 'Snakebite', 'Go To hell', 'School's Out'

Encores: 'Hey Stoopid', 'Elected'

Back at his favourite hunting ground, Alice is happy.

The lights have faded to reveal a basic (by Alice standards) stage set featuring a huge 'Hey Stoopid' skull. Skeletal hands contain Keyboardist Derek Sherinian and ex-Black Sabbath/Badlands drummer Eric Singer. Meanwhile, Alice finally bursts through the skull's face for 'Under My Wheels' before dragging us screaming back into the '90s with 'Trash'.

Alice's dependable backing musicians - completed on this occasion by guitarists Pete Freezin' and Stef Burns (the latter once of Y&T) and bassist Greg Smith - stick faithfully to the original styles of the older material. Thankfully, the days of the 'metalized' versions of the oldies are long gone. And the man himself? I'm pleased to report that he's never sounded better.

Musically, the long show is so strong that you don't really notice the lack of onstage dramatics until it all starts happening later on. 'Eighteen' sees the ol' snake with bowler hat and cane before our hero stalks off to become the real Alice character.

The grotesque 'Sick Things' introduces the snake, while 'Feed My Frankenstein' sees Alice getting rather tetchy as a photographer hogs the stage. The tried 'n' tested run-'em-through-with- the-mic-stand gag again? Not this time.... Instead, the unsuspecting female snapper is seized by Alice's henchman and strapped into a torture rack. After being winched to the ceiling she returns as the 'Cold Ethyl' dummy which also provides the foil for 'Only Women Bleed'.

Of course, it goes without saying that Alice must be punished for his foul deeds and the men in white coats lock him into a barbed-wire play pen for 'Wind-up Toy', a modern classic from the recent 'Hey Stoopid' (s)platter. An exploding teddy bear (splosh) livens up an already powerful 'Ballad Of Dwight Fry'.

But the real show-stopper arrives with 'Go To Hell' as Alice utilises his 'Magic screen' technique first seen back in the '70s. The onstage action literally mingled with projected images (Alice slips through the screen and struts off to hell, skeletons run up to the camera and leap through the screen) and the effect is amazing.

Cooper ultimately meets his own doom when swallowed by his own cranium, eventually bursting out for a rousing rendition of 'Skull's Out' (sorry!)

Nevertheless, despite the (admittedly toned-down) theatrics, the music is once again the real highlight. And that, my friends, is why the countless pretenders never come close.