The Nightmare Returns to Glasgow

Alice Cooper brings the nightmare back to Glasgow with The Cult and Creeper for good measure

Finally, the nightmare returned and he continued to do what he does best, perform. Alice Cooper has been a household name for a very long time and has continued to endear himself to his fans and the rest of the rock world with his DJ stints on Planet Rock. The Detroit rocker has teamed up with the 80’s rock icons The Cult. With Ian Astbury and Billy Duffy still rocking hard, the tour promised to be a special one with Creeper opening for both bands just to put the icing on the cake.

Creeper were on stage at 7pm. An early slot for any band but it didn’t put them off their stride. The horror/punk/goth rock band from the south coast were full of swagger as they were in full flow from the off. Having already opened at some of the countries largest venues, Glasgow was another stepping stone on the bands road to success. Yes, there were a number of empty seats as the band opened with the anthemic “Cyanide” but Will Gould owned the stage. The lean rocker bounced throughout the 25mins set and did his best to ignite the crowd. It was only a five song set and the band saved the best to last as they belted out a storming version of “Annabelle”.

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The Cult need no introduction to any audience as the unmistakable sight of Ian Astbury, kitted out in leather and his trademark bandana is ably backed up by the iconic Billy Duffy. The pair of rockers, who have been responsible for the seminal song “She Sells Sanctuary” which has featured on many top 10 rock lists since it was first played way back in 1985. Astbury’s first incarnation of the band was Southern Death Cult before Duffy joined and they became Death Cult. The commercial success came when they became The Cult and they never looked back. Like many of their peers, their biggest hits maybe behind them, but they are still a major live draw and with strength in depth, their back catalogue can stir up some serious nostalgia even in the most ardent rock fan. The band drew upon three albums for the set in Glasgow. The first five songs of the night were from the 1989 commercially successful album, “Sonic Temple”. They opened with “Sun King” but their third song “Sweet Soul Sister” saw the crowd spring to life as Astbury made references to local areas in Glasgow as he ad-libbed. “Pissed up in Paisley”“Ejected from East Kilbride”, shouted the energetic rocker just before he mentioned he was think about his brother, Big Brian, currently in hospital in London. The energy ramped up as the band moved onto material from “Electric” as they regressed the setlist to 1987. “Lil’ Devil” and “Wildflower”epitomised the band at their blistering best. Duffy’s guitar playing was at its most sublime during this period as he stamped his authority on the rock scene paving the way for a return to guitar driven music. Astbury endeared himself to the local audience by recounting memories of his formative years and his family connections with Glasgow. Astbury shouted “Ma people” as the set neared it’s climax, Astbury beckoned the crowd to move forward but the house security kept them at bay. The fully seated venue meant there were only a few VIP fans at the barrier.

The final salvo of hits came from “Love” the album that kickstarted it all in 1985. “Rain” and “Revolution” had the crowd fully engaged before the signature guitar intro of “She Sells Sanctuary”. This trio of songs saw Billy Duffy break out the Gretsch White Falcon. A fantastic sight to behold and he looked masterful as he held it upright during the solo’s. “Love Removal Machine” closed out the set as the 75mins flew by so quickly. The joint headline tour with Alice Cooper has seen both bands cut their set lengths to accommodate but it was enough to fulfil the hunger of the eager crowd. It was refreshing to see The Cult can still rock hard but the seated venue definitely took the edge off the evening for the crowd.

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There’s nothing quite like an Alice Cooper performance. His legendary theatrics are backed up by some of the best musicians on the planet. Not only that, the band seem to do a “Ctrl,Alt,Delete” and give the same full on show everynight. Considering the average age of the band, it’s no mean feat! Of course, at 74, Alice Cooper may not tour for much longer but he still gives everything on the night and leaves nothing left behind in the dressing room apart from mascara. The Nightmare Castle was the scene for the evenings frolics and the well worn script was played out over the next 90mins. If you’ve ever been to an Alice Cooper gig, then you’ll realise it’s more of a production than a mere concert. The songs provide the soundtrack to the visuals and tailored to the persona Cooper has created for the song. Drawing from such a diverse set of songs, Cooper mixed up old and new. The soft rock songs like “Hey Stoopid” and “Poison” were offset by the crowd favourites of “Eighteen” and “No More Mr Nice Guy”. Cooper’s latest recorded offering “Detroit Stories”featured two tracks “Shut Up and Rock” and “Go Man Go” but it was the old standards that still stole the show. “Under My Wheels”, so often left to the encore had an early slot right ahead of a timely guitar solo by ‘Hurricane’ Nita Strauss but she’s far from the main attraction as the band took it in turns to shine through out the night. 

Cooper described Glen Sobel as the best drummer in the world and he provides the perfect back drop for the rest of the band. With Chuck Garrick back on bass duties, he beamed throughout the show. His solid rock bass work underpinned the flare of the front three guitarists. The insane talents of Tommy Hendrikson, Ryan Roxie and Nita Strauss were on show throughout the night. The guitar solos looked effortless but sounded incredible. The traditional rock n roll solos of Roxie and Hendrikson were supplemented by the dazzling new school guitar work of the “Hurricane”. Sobel stole the limelight as he soloed during “Black Widow Jam”. There was a continuous barrage of plectrums aimed at the punters as the gifted guitarists showered their fans with the sought after mementos. The theatrics were played out during “Steven”, as Alice adorned his straight jacket and it lead into “Dead Babies”. The carnage commenced with “I Love the Dead” as the guillotine was wheeled out for the customary beheading. Of course, Cooper was resurrected and ripped through the set closer “Teenage Frankenstein” which saw the 12ft monster stumbling about the stage. The nightmare is never over until we get “Schools Out” with the a bit of “Another Brick in the Wall” thrown in. It’s a well worn format but you get what you pay for and there’s still an audience for the master of macabre.