Gig Review by Hayley Clark with Photography by Bianca Barrett

When the announcement came through that Alice Cooper, the man, the myth, the legend was coming to the Birmingham Arena it was a moment similar to the classic scene in ‘Wayne’s World’ falling on the floor and shouting “We’re not worthy” so you could tell this was an electrifying moment.

Alice Cooper

As the crowds filtered into the arena San Francisco based rockers The Tubes entertained the crowd storming through a nine track set list with lead singer Fee Waybill leading an impromptu costume change on stage midset removing his boiler suit to reveal and black and white t-shirt underneath. The seventies rockers left the crowd warmed up playing favourites such as ‘Prime Time’ and ‘Amnesia’ before a finale of 1981 hit ‘Talk to ya later’ had the crowd bopping their heads to the music.

Alice Cooper

Alice Cooper

Outside the main arena area the merchandise stands were buzzing, fans eager to snap up everything from t-shirts, signed photos and bobbleheads to cute little panda bears in mini Alice Cooper tees. A fantastic range offered for the fans of all ages who attended.

As eighties Leeds goth rock stars The Mission came onto the stage the fully seated arena was now near full capacity, women in corsets and top hats, leather jackets a plenty and even a few Wayne and Garths complete with trucker hats thrown in for good measurement. Wayne Hussey’s band stormed through a seven song set list, members of the crowd dancing to their cover of Neil Young’s ‘Like A Hurricane’ and fan favourite ‘Butterfly On A wheel’ as the band bantered with the crowd about the local football teams stating that Walsall seem to be the top team in the midlands at the moment.

Alice Cooper

Alice Cooper

As the lights went down a disclaimer boomed over the arena PA system instructing the crowd not to look the megastar in the eye, or you will become one of his playthings, The anticipation built up further as the eye backdrop fell to the floor of the sold out show revealing a waterfall of pyrotechnics falling from the sky and the one and only Alice Cooper!

The crowd went wild for the 69 year old as he appeared leather clad with a cane in hand. Bursting immediately into tracks ‘Brutal Planet’ and ‘Under My Wheels’ and capturing his adoring audience in a trance as they chanting along as Alice strutted around the stage waving his cane and mimicking driving in the car.

Alice Cooper

Alice Cooper

As the show went on the covered sheets behind him revealed more parts to the set, having seen him headline Stone Free last year in London it’s not your ordinary concert when you come see Alice Cooper, he puts on one hell of a show. Even the simple set changes through the back drop sheets give the audience so much more than your average rock band and the ‘Paranormal’ tour was to be no different.

Prowling the stage with his raspy voice, a toy box is revealed behind as a sinister looking doll pops out to hand a new cane to him and help with jacket changes throughout the night. The band are as polished as ever with drummer Glen Sobel perched high above the stage on drums and the phenomenal Nita Strauss dazzling the audience with unbelievable guitar riffs in a number of different positions from stood up straight to lying on the floor it’s no wonder she was ranked first in Guitair worlds ‘top ten female guitar players’ article.

Alice Cooper

Alice Cooper

Clown masks hung from the stage, very similar to ones you’d see on this years American Horror Story show, but with the entire seated venue on their feet it didn’t matter to those with coulrophobia as the main focus was the showman ship unraveling before their eyes.

Undeniably the King of shock rock Alice Cooper had the audience eating out the palm of his hand, forget the introductionary disclosure all eyes were fixated on him as the audience became his playthings as he gyrated around the stage ‘Department Of Youth’ and ‘Woman Of Mass Destruction’ leaving them crying for more before the leading man left the stage and left the spotlight on Nita to perform a guitar solo.

Changing shirts and appearing to screams and cheers the recognisable beat of ‘Poison’ sparked an audience singalong raising the roof of the arena. For a man pushing nearly seventy his white shirt and tight leather pant ensemble looked as good as back in the day and had the ladies swooning as he blew the stage away.

Alice Cooper

Alice Cooper

The theatrical show moved up a gear as he plowed through favourites, ‘Feed My Frankenstein’ left the audience in awe as a giant electric chair was revealed, as Alice sat in it sparks and smoke started to fill the stage as he disappeared and reincarnated as a giant 20 foot or so Frankenstein causing havoc on the stage.

After all that excitement things slowed down with ‘Ballad of Dwight Fry’ and ‘Only Women Bleed’ before the men in the masks placed him in a straight jacket for Paranormal album favourite ‘Paranoiac Personality’. As the grand finale approached a giant guillotine appeared on stage for ‘I Love The Dead’, eager to shock, the audience cheered as the blade fell and chopped off the icons head. With the band parading the executed head around the stage the lights fell before the real treat was about to occur.

The lights rose to reveal a ‘Billion Dollar Baby’ backdrop. On stage the band seemed to have aged considerably. Fourty two years after an amicable split the fans were treated to the original Alice Cooper Band taking over the stage, Dennis Dunaway, Michael Bruce and Neal Smith leaving the audience spell bound with the spectacular encore.

Alice Cooper

Alice Cooper

Bright lights adorn the stage as they powered through the hits ‘I’m Eighteen’, ‘Billion Dolar Babies’,’No More Mr. Nice Guy’ and ‘Muscle of Love’. The audience erupted as giant inflatable balls were thrown into the audience with the headmaster Alice decked in tails and top hat appeared to the school bell to keep his congregation in order. As the current band members joined their predecessors for ‘School’s Out’ the electric atmosphere rocked the arena in the grand finale of one of the best rock anthems of our time.

Serenading and wowing the crowd as ever Alice Cooper is a living legend, even when he does pretend to be dead and ressurected he is an absolute treasure to watch perform, leaving the audience in a sea of ecstasy awaiting their next rock and roll fix.

The album Paranormal is now out and features recordings with the original band members as well as current.

See the full Alice Cooper photoset here.

Setlists:

The tubes: She’s a Beauty / TV Is King / Mr. Hate / Amnesia / What Do You Want From Life? / Prime Time / Love’s a Mystery (I Don’t Understand) / White Punks on Dope / Talk to Ya Later

The Mission: Tower of Strength / Beyond the Pale / Like a Hurricane (Neil Young cover) / Butterfly on a Wheel / Severina / Wasteland / Deliverance

Alice Cooper: Spend the Night intro / Brutal Planet / Under My Wheels / Lost in America / Pain / Department of Youth / The World Needs Guts / Woman of Mass Distraction / Guitar Solo (Nita Strauss) / Poison / Halo of Flies / Feed My Frankenstein / Cold Ethyl / Only Women Bleed / Paranoiac Personality / Ballad of Dwight Fry / I Love the Dead

Encore: I’m Eighteen / Billion Dollar Babies / No More Mr. Nice Guy / Hello Hooray (Judy Collins cover) (Intro only) / Muscle of Love / School’s Out

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