Times

Originally Published: 1987

Concert Review

Alice Cooper
Wembley Arena

Before the excesses of W.A.S.P., Iron Maiden, The Damned, The Tubes, Kiss and even The Rocky Horror Show there was Alice Cooper, the man most singularly responsible for the catalogue of miscreant entertainment that has become so pronounced since his fall from prominence. But Cooper has not been forgotten, and his malign pantomime routines now seem more than ever an apposite representation of fantasy horror at a time when video nasties and "splatter" movies have become something of the norm.

The magnificent stage set was a Gothic cross between Frankenstein's junkyard and the wreck of the Hesperus, and Cooper, wielding a variety of whips, swords and canes, strode like Billy Smart in a circus of terrors through a litter of diembodied model legs and heads, pausing to fondle his phyton during "Be My Lover", engage in a whipping duel with a leather-clad dominatrix during "Go To Hell" and impale baby dolls on the end of a sword while singing "Billion Dollar Babies". Lest this should sound alarming, such antics are probably best explained as the behaviour which once inspired Salvador Dali to make a cream-cake sculpture of the singer's brain.

The music, most of it as old as the routines, also had an unlikely heavy metal contemporaneity and although the man singing "I'm Eighteen" was such bravado was in fact 38, the majority of those in the audience punching the air in response were probably not far off that magical age.

While the notorious guillotine climax of "I Love The Dead" was the highlight for most people, my favourite moments appearance of a sweet tufty-haired monster during "Teenage Frankenstein" and the unexpected pathos of "The Ballad Of Dwight Fry" when bound in a straightjacket, Cooper sang plaintively "See my lonely life unfold".

Poor Cooper. The papier mache villian has found a new generation of trash-rock lovers to send him raving all the way to the bank.