Project Description

ALICE COOPER

@ AIS Arena, Canberra

23 October 2017

(Live Review)

Reviewer – Benjamin Smith

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ALICE COOPER

ALICE COOPER . Photo – Nicky Carall

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There are performers and there are showmen. And then there’s Alice. In a category of one sits Alice Cooper, part rock star, part snake oil salesman; part freak show ringleader, part comedian.

There is, in truth, nothing like an Alice Cooper performance. The sets, the theatre, the props and the players all come together in such a way as to reinvent rock n roll’s preoccupation with the macabre night after night, whilst at the same time subtly satirising the whole thing.

Of course Cooper is generous with his back catalogue, treating the audience to all of his classics like Poison, I’m Eighteen, Only Women Bleed, Department of Youth and countless others. The crowd relishes every note. There are also tracks from the new record Paranormal and they’re just as well received.

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ALICE COOPER

ALICE COOPER . Photo – Nicky Carall

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ALICE COOPER

ALICE COOPER . Photo – Nicky Carall

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ALICE COOPER

ALICE COOPER . Photo – Nicky Carall

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It’s a mistake to think that the theatrics are the show though. Despite the spectacle of watching Cooper transform into Frankenstein’s monster, or shackled in psychiatric restraints, or beheaded and finally revived, these elements are not the defining feature of the performance, they are the accoutrements; the icing on the cake. The real reason Cooper and Co shows are so captivating is much more traditional: they’re great songs performed by a group of very talented musicians who give 100 percent from start to finish. Cooper’s guitarist Nita Strauss is a hurricane in black leather. Strauss is high energy to the point of being manic but like everything else in the Cooper universe she has the chops to justify her exuberance. There is no question about her abilities as a musician, as she makes clear at every possible minute throughout the show.

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ALICE COOPER

ALICE COOPER . Photo – Nicky Carall

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ALICE COOPER

ALICE COOPER . Photo – Nicky Carall

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ALICE COOPER

ALICE COOPER . Photo – Nicky Carall

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ALICE COOPER

ALICE COOPER . Photo – Nicky Carall

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The rest of the band too are perfectly on point and Cooper, despite his 69 years, does not appear to struggle with the energy of the show for even a minute. It is, in every way, a completely satisfying performance, finished with a rendition of School’s Out which segues into Pink Floyd’s The Wall and climaxes in a festival of exploding balloons and streamers and tickertape and a celebration of all the darkness that went before. As with anything so totally over the top and vaudevillian there is always the potential for the horrorshow to become a trainwreck and descend into pantomime. Throughout the AIS Arena show that never looked like happening. Not for a second.

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ALICE COOPER

ALICE COOPER . Photo – Nicky Carall

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ALICE COOPER

ALICE COOPER . Photo – Nicky Carall

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ALICE COOPER

ALICE COOPER . Photo – Nicky Carall

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ALICE COOPER

ALICE COOPER . Photo – Nicky Carall

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Opening the show for Cooper was the Ace Frehley band. It’s difficult to divorce Frehley from his tenure as axeman for Kiss having been so pivotal in defining their sound and look. Touring as he does now with a band of his own, the camp and glitter of the Kiss is gone from Frehley’s show. Frehley’s set really is just dirty riff-driven rock n’ roll played loud and hard.

The only issue is the usual complaint in relation to the AIS and that is that the sound is not well managed. Yes, it is designed as a basketball stadium and as such not built for acoustics but it feels like that excuse is running out of steam and can only hold for so much longer. Regardless, the show was killer and the performances otherwise flawless. Cooper and Frehley both proved why it is they’ve managed to go the distance for all these years.

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Ace Frehley

ACE FREHLEY . Photo – Nicky Carall

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Check out Nicky Carall’s gallery of this show HERE

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AMNPLIFY – DB

Connect with Alice Cooper

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