Gig review: Alice Cooper at First Direct Arena, Leeds
To enter an Alice Cooper gig, is to enter into the cult of Cooper, with fans caked in panda eye make-up completing the image with top-hat and canes a-plenty. The night is one for theatrics.
Supporting act, The Tubes are an inspired choice of opening act. US punk-legends who have raided the fancy dress box with tongue firmly in cheek, all cheaply painted cardboard boxes for headgear and platform boots, the band raced through an incredible and amusing set including What Do You Want From Life? and She’s A Beauty.
Leeds goth post-punks The Mission, now 30 years into their career, took their moment on the biggest stage in their home-town. A more stripped-back affair to the mayhem of The Tubes, the band competently presided over a career-spanning set that the Leeds faithful welcomed.
Alice Cooper is a pure pantomime puppet master. Every string that pulls a backdrop curtain, every rope that drops a guillotine blade has Alice’s spider fingerprints all over them. There is never a ghoul or guitar out of place.
This well-rehearsed and well-trodden circus show, is an absolute masterclass in stage show craft. Alice Cooper is the vaudevillian conductor of ceremonies, the night manager of nightmares and the ultimate showman of shock.
The stage was filled with beheaded clowns and dolls, 30ft Frankenstein monsters and medieval torture devices. Cooper confidently corralled his musician’s like an ogre’s orchestra, using walking canes and swords as conducting batons, keeping his tightly choreographed set in check.
Cooper’s discography was dug up and re-animated for 2017, with a new track Paranoiac Personality from recent album Paranormal getting an airing alongside absolute killer cuts Brutal Planet, Lost In America, Poison and Feed My Frankenstein.
An Alice Cooper concert is a pure carnival thrill-ride, at times sending chills of excitement and breath-taking terror, whilst hammering out the hardest rock and roll music played with such passion and precision you would be forgiven for thinking they had actually sold their souls for the opportunity.
The evenings black topped cap was doffed towards Cooper’s original line-up who took to the stage for a blistering encore including No More Mr Nice Guy, Billion Dollar Babies and a huge glittery rendition of School’s Out complete with fireworks, cannons and knife throwing.
Alice Cooper has had many copy-cat shock-rock goth imposters, but no one does theatre and performance to this standard night after night with a razor-sharp grin and a knowing salacious wink. We’re not worthy, and long live the nightmare.