Originally Published: November 1972
It's been a long time since fans wrecked three rows of seats at Green's Playhouse in Glasgow, but they did on Friday when Alice Cooper took his show to the Highlands. When I entered the theatre I was told rather firmly that I stood no chance of getting to my seat as the place was in uproar so I was told to kneel behind the front circle and watch out for fan mania.
The audience seemed to be paying homage, rather than enjoying the band and I've never seen so many fists thrust out in salute. Musically the band fell short on a number of counts, but nobody can deny the incredible effect the sheer energy and excitement their power play had.
The gig was the opening of Alice's European tour which Is the last chance we will have of seeing the Killer act. Most of the set was taken from the Killer album, with the exception of Eighteen, Elected, Gutter Cat Versus The Jets and School's Out, and it was strange to hear the audience singing along with the band, knowing each number word for word.
Those who have seen the act before said it was much tighter than when Alice brought it to Britain before and the band broke the set down into sections, playing several numbers in each section. The lapses between the chunks were consequently more apparent and at one time the crowd started slow handclapping -- purely from frustration.
The act really began to buzz when Alice brought out his snake and twirled it around his legs. The run in to the superbly executed hanging sequence at the end of the act came in the form of Gutter Cat, a number which shows what imagination the band have -- musically -- and I hope is a pointer to what they will attempt in the future. Alice fights with his band, and the choreography for the number enhances the visual effect.
Kids were actually screaming "Don't kill him" as Alice was led to the gallows which dominated one side of the stage and the screams could have been heard miles away as our hero dangled lifeless from the end of a rope.
But like all good fairy stories, there was a happy ending and out he ran with his white top hat and tail coat on to lay on Elected and School's Out for an encore. It was all a little too much to take in, what with enormous balloons racing round the auditorium, smoke filling the stage and posters being thrown out to the audience after Alice had caressed his body with them.
Musically there are better bands, hut nevertheless Alice Cooper generates excitement. Visually they are a superb band. It's fun rock. Love it till death.
They'd had the hanging, and the knife-fight, and everyone was getting pretty excited as Alice Cooper swung into "Elected". Some kids had made these white top hats, like Alice wears on Top of the Pops in his election film, and a couple were thrown up on stage. Alice grabbed one, and looked inside it for a phone number; another fell at their feet.
They destroyed it -- stomped it into the ground, kicking it, stamping on it, jumping on it with both feet, until it was just another piece of the garbage on the stage. No treasuring love tokens from the fans in this group.
I won't bore you with the details of diverted flights, local trains, and Glasgow in the rain, but the state I was in by the time I got to Green's Playhouse on Saturday, it had to be a pretty good gig to get me going.
We got there late because of all the transport problems, and outside the theatre there were a few very be-draggled kids being shouted at by a harsh voiced and extremely unpleasant police woman. I'm not a violent man, but I felt a sudden desire to kick her.
Controlling this rash impulse, I shot through a deserted foyer, through a room full of policemen sitting at empty tables, and up into a part of the theatre called "divans", which in English is the circle. Flo and Eddie had been and gone, I'm afraid, and the people were in full cry for Alice.
It was beautiful, warm, and infectiously exciting inside the theatre, and I immediately understood why so many bands say audiences in Glasgow are among the best anywhere -- when you've got all that going on before you even get on stage, it must be hard to play badly, and easy to give out everything you feel.
Then the lights went down -- it's a cliche, but dimming lights in a packed theatre still give me a strange kind of thrill -- and the band took the stage, last-minute tuning, and then slowly building into the first number. Then came Alice, dancing into the spotlight to ear-splitting sereams of "Uh-layce"; you'd imagine a crowd chanting in any accent or even language would sound much the same, but the broad Glaswegian pronunciation of Alice was really marked.
I've seen Alice Cooper twice before -- the first time was the "Love It To Death" set at the Rainbow, and then the final performance of "Killer" at Wembley. Tonight it was "Killer" again, modified to exclude infanticide and replace it with a knife-fight, but Alice himself looked better than I've ever seen him. It's strange that with all this glitter and make-up around, the band don't strike you as strange at all -- in fact they mostly looked almost conventionally dressed -- but Alice's costume was masterly.
No tawdry, ripped tights this time, but gold glittering pants, a black leather lace-up top, kind of braces that strapped round his crotch for the cod-piece bit, and heavy, panda-eyed make-up streaking down to his jaw. Other times, his appearance created an effect; this time he looked great, the ultimate bi-sexual sex object, He stood there for a while, just letting everyone take it all in.
The gallows were shrouded in a black drape for the first half of the set, and the band rocked out, playing out the rock and roll star part of their performance. They do it well, rocking hard, and including "I'm Eighteen", which must rank as one of THE teenage rebellion songs.
Then Alice came on with a metal dustbin and tipped garbage all over the stage to set the scene for their adaptation of the West Side Story gang fight sequence. He pulled a knife and slouched around, singing and flicking the blade for a while, and then while tapes provided noise in the background, he took on the band in a hammy but nonetheless effectively staged fight -- people jumping off the drumkit, charging around the stage, collapsing on the ground; Alice staggering and biting on a capsule to make blood pour out the side of his mouth.
The audience cheered him on against impossible odds, gasping at every thrust, responding in a way that was half Victorian melodrama -- hissing the villain and cheering the hero -- but a little more for real. And tonight they were cheering for the villain, for Alice against the odds. So when he'd slain the other four, and they were asked to take up the chant "Hang Him". "Hang him", they didn't... not where I was in the audience anyway.
The execution took on a kind of crucifixion atmosphere; it wasn't a baby-murderer they were hanging this time, it was their Alice. There was very little cheering or shouting at all as they dragged him to the gallows, and the thunder and lightning effects as he dropped through the trap seemed like a scene from one of those giant scale Hollywood bible movies. I don't know what reaction I expected from the audience -- cheers or screams or what -- but the feeling of really heavy tension in the darkness was very impressive.
And then the lights came up on the stage, the band swung into "Elected", and Alice came dancing back, resurrected in white top-hat and tails. All through the set there'd been shouts of "Nixon out -- elect Alice", and I can't help feeling some of those people would vote for Alice if they got the chance.
There was enough energy left for an encore, and anyway they hadn't done "School's Out" yet, so back they came, chanting for release and playing the poster game. Every time Alice threw a poster out, there'd he a writhing scrum about 20 feet radius round where it landed. And so it was over -- there was very little shouting for a second encore and you felt that everyone had put so much into that night, that there really wasn't any desire left. You don't often feel that after a concert in London.