The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world
Alice Cooper 1sep09

Alice Cooper/ Electric Mary
Challenge Stadium
Perth, Western Australia

1 September 2009



They keep killing him… and he keeps coming back!


Electric Mary’s singer Rusty saunters onstage to a half filled Challenge Stadium, cowboy hat firmly in place, and a minute into Let Me Free we are reminded of Bon Scott - and the early AC/DC comparisons don’t stop there, the rhythm guitar and rock solid drumming especially take us back to classic Accadacca.


With only 30 minutes, Electric Mary don’t waste a lot of time on banter, they just jump from one high energy rock punch to another – No-one Does It Better, Love Song, Down To The Bone, Vaseline & Guns and Nobody’s Perfect are all honed and tight and the sound is huge enough to fill the cavernous stadium as the crowd slowly files in for tonight’s headline act.


I first heard about this Melbourne band in the pages of Classic Rock magazine, yet their music betrays a huge debt to the Aussie hard rock tradition, and I wonder why they haven’t toured this side of the country on their own yet.  In short:  Electric Mary rock!


The ‘Theatre of Death’ curtain dropped to the ground to reveal a-l-i-c-e spelt across the stage in huge letters hanging from the roof of Challenge Stadium and Alice Cooper – master of macabre shock rock theatre – and band, burst into 1973’s classic, School’s Out.


What followed was an hour and a half of hits, cabaret and murder – Alice impales a roadie with his mic stand after the fourth song, strangles his daughter, Calico, with her stocking, after she performs a strip tease behind a screen later, and is put down 4 times himself during the course of the show.


Alice performed most of his biggest hits – Department of Youth, I’m Eighteen, Go to Hell, Welcome To My Nightmare, eighties comeback Poison, No More Mister Nice Guy, and many more, as well as some relative obscurities such as Wicked Young Man, I Never Cry and Nurse Rosetta – where Calico Cooper takes an angle grinder to her metal underwear in a shower of sparks.  Throughout, the theatrical part of the show continued unabated.


Alice’s shows have long been presented as a light-hearted morality play – Alice kills a roadie therefore must be punished, but he always comes back to life for at least one more song!  For this tour, Alice suffers death by guillotine, hypodermic needle, hanging and iron maiden – coming back each time to leer and threaten and growl his way through more hits and commit more outrages.


Alice the man (known to his Mum as Vincent Furnier) has said that playing the Alice character is like inhabiting a villain, and he does it to perfection, with murder, retribution, deviance and necrophilia all making an appearance in this devout Christian’s performance. 


The story doesn’t matter so much to the music itself – these are solid gold hits for the most part – but even the most cynical amongst the crowd must admire the way he has woven the songs and storylines of a dozen very different concept albums together to construct a coherent and supremely entertaining 90 minute performance.  “I was expecting a bit of pantomime, but the music, the show, it was all excellent”, said my date of her debut Alice gig.


The band are great, rock solid and looking thrilled to be there, but lacking in personality and a little nondescript – members of previous incarnations of Alice’s backing band have shown more personal charisma.  Maybe after 40 years Alice has realised he doesn’t need guitar or drum heroes, he just needs solid players to serve the songs and their legacy, as well as play along with the pantomime going on around them.


Since the set-list is printed in the tour brochure, there’s no room for improvisation here, and with only Vengeance Is Mine and Dirty Diamonds appearing from recent albums, most of the songs date from his 70’s glory days.  It’s a shame none were played from The Eyes of Alice Cooper, his most recent best.

It’s not often you’re able to see 6 murders in one night and go home happy, but after finishing the main set with No More Mister Nice Guy and Under My Wheels, and returning for an encore of School’s Out dressed in a shiny silver suit, that’s exactly what the nearly sold out crowd did. Of course, Alice is cabaret nowadays and not the epitomy of shockingness he was in the Seventies, but he knows exactly how to play that role without ever becoming a farce.


The guy sitting next to me – Spud – travelled 600 kilometers to come to the show, and with devotion like that, I had to ask what he thought of it.  “Anyone can sing, mate, but this was so much more.  UNREAL!!”  Too true, Spud!