Sounds

Originally Published: November 18, 1972

Return of the Bi-Sexual Sex Object

Alice Cooper, Glasgow Report

Author: Steve Peacock

They 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 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 destory it - stomped it into the ground, kicking it, stamping 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.

Impulse

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 problems, and outside the theatre there were a few very de-draggled kids being shouted at by a harsh voice 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 England is the circle. Flo and Eddie had been and gone, I'm afraid, and the people were in full cry for Alice.

Exciting

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 the lights in a packed theatre still gives 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 screams of "Uh-layce"; you'd imagine a crowd chanting in any accent or even language would sound much the same, but the broad Glaswegian promunciation 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 crutch 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 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 of 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 villian and cheering the hero - but a little more for real. And tonight they were cheering for the villian, 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 of 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's 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. Everytime Alice threw a poster out, there'd be a writhing scrum about 20 feet radius around 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.