Alice Cooper @ The Entertainment Centre (Sydney), 24 August 09

Alice Cooper, still king of Shock Rock after 40 years.


Alive Cooper hit the stage of the Sydney Entertainment Centre with all the effervescence of a ‘teenage heavy metal elephant gun’, much to the delight of his baby boomer audience which were instantly transported back to 1972 by the opening guitar riff of School’s Out. This was followed by the teen anthem Department of Youth which, coincidently were the two closing songs of Alice’s 1975 Welcome to My Nightmare tour.


An accident? I think not. Throughout the night Alice revisited the Nightmare tour with legendry moments like the guitar duel from The Black Widow complements of guitarist Damon Johnson and Keir Kelli and even served up an extended and complete version of Devil's Food which contained a totally new and never heard before verse.


One things for sure, when it comes to an Alice Cooper show, not even the most ‘hard hearted’ of Alice fans knows quite what to expect, with almost every song having been re-arranged to some extent. Go To Hell flowed flawless into Guilty, Welcome to My Nightmare lasted for one verse and then stepped aside to make way for Cold Ethyl. Nurse Rosetta (played dramatically by Calico Cooper, Alice's daughter) made a sudden stop and lunged into Is It My Body. Killers (from the 1971 album Killers), even made a brief appearance before making way for I Love the Dead.


With such a nostalgic song line up, it’s not hard to see why Alice is credited with influencing more than three generations, not to mention classic bands such as Kiss, Marilyn Manson and the New York Dolls. I’m only glad that he dropped the whole ‘Side Show’ clown vibe from a back in 1996 (I still cringe to think of it).


Calico Cooper made several appearances throughout the night, her most memorial being a silhouetted strip tease performed behind a screen to the song Be My Lover before being strangled by Alice who then cradled her on his lap whilst crooning Only Women Bleed.


Alice’s band was nothing short of brilliant with his guitarist recapturing every ounce of energy from the 1975 lineup which featured the twin guitar assault of Steve Hunter and Dick Wagner, members of the then infamous Hollywood Vampires. My only complaint is that the guitars during Poison, just seemed, how should I put it, a little half-arsed. From the intro to the solo they just never seemed up to scratch.


Another disappointment was the complete absence of songs from the 1991 album Hey Stoopid, not to mention, 1974's Muscle of Love, 1977's Lace and Whiskey and six or so albums from 1980 to 1987. But then with 25 albums under his belt, even performing one song from each album would have taken over two hours.


The show itself contained more blood, gore and violence than a Rob Zombie movie. With all the pomp and pageantry that one would expect from Alice, guillotining, hanging, poisoning and even some kind of David Copperfieldish ‘many swords through the box trick’, from which Alice would always return undead. Even one of his hooded henchmen/roadies was impaled upon a microphone stand, compliments of AC.


The evening’s energy level was kept extremely high with the now 61 year old Alice never losing so much as a beat let alone his breath (those afternoon naps seem to work wonders). Anthem after anthem was delivered faultlessly, (with the exception of Poison) with the show finally finishing with the classic show stopper Under My Wheels which brought the crowd to its feet once more. No way were they going to let Alice leave with out at least one encore. And that encore was soon delivered with a reprise of School’s Out. Alice Cooper, still king of Shock Rock after 40 years.


Support for the Sydney show was Electric Mary: a Melbourne-based five piece made up of ex-members of Southern Sons. This powerhouse quintet blasted the Entertainment Centre with its brand of dirty blues based rock not unlike Bad Company would have performed back in the 70s. Although the band have had little exposure in Sydney, the crowd really seemed to love them, even singing along to songs and loudly applauding Irwin Thomas’s rather lengthy guitar solo. Over all their live sound was far superior to that of Alice Coopers’, which only goes to prove that louder is not always better.