Alice Cooper is a living legend of Rock. His music has stood the test of time and the signature macabre theatrical stage show, which on this tour is based on a “Nightmare Castle”. There’s a considerable back catalogue of music to choose from stretching back 50 years, so there was something for everyone in the audience. Hailing from Detroit “Rock” City, Alice brought his “Ol Black Eyes is Back” tour to the “Granite” city of Aberdeen. It was the inaugural major music show for the newly opened T.E.C.A. venue in Aberdeen and there was an air of anticipation as the crowd tentatively entered the venue, not quite knowing what to expect, either from the venue or the bands on show. The two “support” bands have recently completed their own headline tours of the UK so it was unusual to see them in supporting slots. The new venue, recently name “P&J Live” can accommodate 5,000 to 15,000 so it was a daunting task for any band to create an atmosphere but as there were three incredible live acts on show they certainly rose to the task.
MC5 had the dubious honour of opening the new venue and they did so drawing some spirited applause from the crowd. Being a seated arena venue, and brand new, “the rules of engagement” had not yet been realised. The crowd were mainly seated with only a few dozen standing at the barrier. As I found out later, the first two rows are granted “access” to the barrier to improve their view. It didn’t take long for Wayne Kramer to shout out those iconic words “Kick Out The Jam’s Mutherfuckers” as the band launched into their earliest hit. MC5’sbackdrop signified their 50yrs as a band, so MC50 was a clever way of stating that milestone. MC5 is like a rock supergroup as it’s member have played for other famous American bands, namely Kim Thayil (Guitarist ex-Soundgarden), Billy Gould (Bass – Faith No More), Brendan Canty (Drums – Fugazi) and Marcus Durant(Vocal – Zen Guerrilla). It was a solid performance and the final song “Looking at You” saw the band finish their set to a larger crowd than they started playing to.
The Stranglers were the “youngest” of the three bands having formed in 1974. The signature intro music “Waltzinblack” was welcomed by the fans in the crowd that had come to see the band and benefit from also catching MC5 and Alice Cooper. Having a fairly hard core dedicated fan base, this was always to be expected. It was a relatively curtailed set from the “meninblack” but it still ticked all the boxes of the fans and the onlookers. There were still a few gaps in the seating but the crowd numbers had swelled to see Jean Jacques Burnel play the bass intro to “Toiler on The Sea”. The bands first single “Grip” preceded “Nice N Sleazy” which saw Burneland Baz Warne do their customary synchronised assault to the centre stage and loom over the heads of the security. The banter from Baz Warnewas on show when he changed the lyrics in “Peaches” to “I can think of a lot worse places to be like Pittodrie on a Saturday afternoon”, a tongue in cheek dig at Aberdeen F.C’s football stadium. The largest cheer of the night went to “Golden Brown” but it was “No More Heroes” that nearly brought the house down, literally, as JJ battered his bass until it reverberated through every particle in the new building.
The new arena was now packed to see the huge curtain drop as Alice Cooper’s Nightmare Castle was finally unleashed on the unsuspecting audience. The scene was set and “Feed My Frankenstein” was the perfect opener. The ironic “No More Mr. Nice Guy” was next as the menace may have faded from Alicethrough the years but his entertainment value has not wained. Possibly one of the nicest men in rock (certainly according to Baz Warne who had met Alice back stage). The theatrics kicked in to life (and death) as “Man Behind the Mask” saw the “Jason” like figure stalk his victim before he slayed her by slitting her throat. The first single release from Alice, “18” and “Billion Dollar Babies” brought out the rock n roll in Cooper and his band before the big 80’s hit “Poison” showed the move into his hair metal period. If it wasn’t already obvious that the musicianship on show from Alice’s band was impressive, then the solo’s throughout “My Stars, Devils Food, Black Widow” left everyone in the building in awe of what was on display. The crowd were fully engaged and enthralled by “Dead Babies” as the threat of Cooper killing the baby doll he held in his arms before he was wrestled into his straight jacket and fatally punished my Madame Guillotine and the archaic torture weapon beheaded Alice and saw his head paraded around the stage by a 20ft monster baby. There’s no room in the set for some of the big hits like “Elected” or “Only Women Bleed” but “Teenage Frankenstein” saw the main set draw to a close with the huge Frankenstein monster charge around the stage to some riotous applause. Apart from the theatrics and goulish behaviour, the band seriously rocked out the entire evening. Nita Strauss was at the fore front of a great number of the solo’s but that didn’t detract from the rest of the band as their supreme talents were there to behold.
After a brief break, Alice Cooper reappeared on stage sporting a Scotland football shirt, nice touch, and the crowd had a huge cheer for him as he strode out to command the stage once again. The band fired into “Under My Wheels” as huge inflatable balloons were ejected into the crowd from the stage and bounced across their heads as they rocked out. Nearing the end of the song, Cooper started to burst the balloons with his cane and the ticker tape contained within created a blizzard over the heads of the audience. The ringing of the school bell signified the last song, what else but “School’s Out” with a clever integration of Pink Floyd’s“Another Brick in the Wall” mid song. As the song progressed, Alice Cooperfinally spoke to the crowd as he introduced his band. On Lead Guitar, “the ridiculously handsome Ryan Roxie”,on Bass, from the band American supergroup Hollywood Vampires,“the mysterious Chris Wyse”. Next up “the number one drummer in the world Glen Sobel”, followed by the producer, songwriter and singer also from Hollywood Vampires “from Aberdeen, Scotland Tommy Herikson”. Alice Cooper used his artistic licence in his descriptions much to the amusement of the fans, as Tommy was actually born in New York! Alice finished off introducing the band. “Number one female singer and guitarist in the world, Hurricane Nita Strauss”, got a huge cheers from everyone in the crowd. The band continued on as Alicefinally introduced his wife, “she’s devious, she’s dangerous, she’s delicious Madame Guillotine…. Sheryl Goddard”. Of course, there was room for one more name, “playing the part of Alice Cooper tonight…… ME!!!!!” As Cooper screamed his own name the band rallied with a final chorus and “schools out completely” finished off the night.
What an incredible concert as an opener to the impressive new arena. Alice Cooper will be a hard act to follow.
Alice Cooper’s World Tour continues all over the planet, check below for dates and tickets