Review: Alice Cooper @ Brisbane Entertainment Centre

  • Written by 
  • Thursday, 20 February 2020 18:13
Alice Cooper played Brisbane Entertainment Centre 18 February, 2020. Alice Cooper played Brisbane Entertainment Centre 18 February, 2020. Image © Clea-marie Thorne

What’s black, white and dead all over? Alice Cooper, keeping nightmare rock fully alive.

MC50 ('60s American music scene stablemates with Alice) and our very own Airbourne all the way from Warrnambool have joined the ‘Ol’ Black Eyes Is Back’ tour.

Airbourne worked super hard to get the crowd excited (it was a seated Brisbane Entertainment Centre on 18 February) and eventually got a decent response, after their intense stage antics that included frontman Joel O’Keeffe playing on the auditorium floor, on chairs and on speaker stacks. Not so Chuck Berry, but a little Chuck ‘Very’.

Joel and Airbourne also made a huge point of letting us know how hard the road crew worked. #thankyouroadcrew

Ol’ Black Eyes steps out and a couple of tracks in, he has an incitement to decree. “As long as you are alive, as long as we are alive, rock & roll will never die.” At 72, he sure is living that mantra.

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Image © Clea-marie Thorne

The show isn’t as slick-sticky-gloss as you might think it could be. It’s smooth and sinewy, like that part of the chicken bone you’re not completely sure you’re meant to eat but it feels good anyway. Hearing it live is a good reminder that part of what you hear in vintage recordings is the technology – live, these pieces of art-music-history are brought right into now.

Click here for more photos.

On stage there’s a low rise across the front of the stage (someone say ‘catwalk’?) that is perfect for Mr Cooper to parade along in front of and schmooze with the guitarists, and for them to put one foot up on for some particular shreddage. Sounds dainty, but it is defensibly dirty good.

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Image © Clea-marie Thorne

A giant pop-art Alice puppet wanders out as well as other characters: a henchman, a ‘Jason from Friday the 13th’, a tourist that gets fake-murdered (it’s just a show, people – the man himself gets decapitated as well), a couple of overall-clad men with fat, baby faces, a gothic bride in white and mother in black, both played by The Mrs Sheryl Cooper.

The set is a cross between a dungeon, a pirate ship and a medieval fortress. So many levels and spotlighting opportunities make for an engaging visual on a physical, not just concept, level.

The pirate vibe kicked in especially when Alice and his sparkle-sleeved guitarist, Tommy Henriksen, were duelling - guitar with harmonica - at the front of stage.

‘Fallen in Love’ is a particularly timeless banger. I guess they all are when you are the undead. “I used to be a stud, now I’m a powder puff ‘cause I’ve fallen in love and I can’t get up.”

It dawns on me during the show, thanks to its absolute obviousness here, how the style of many rockers is actually quite pirate-esque (certainly this band has a lot to do with Hollywood Vampires; search that to read about Johnny Depp’s music career). Is music a buried treasure? Are pirates just vampires? #thinkingemoji

“I’ve got you under my wheels, my Brisbane wheels,” croons Cooper with his charismatic croak.

This stage show spectacular was gritty, meaty, so-chunky-you-can-carve-it coffin rock but be assured he’s not dead yet. “Raise your hands if you’re poison!” he summons. . . and we all oblige, confusing and hilarious as that notion is.

“You’ve had your chance to be all alone, but you’re not alone. He’s back - the man behind the mask.” All three guitarists and the bassist stand staggered behind one another early on in ‘He’s Back’, bopping like leather-clad minions under Daddy Vampire’s spell.

Nita Strauss (or ‘Hurricane Nita’, a nickname she calibrates by spinning around the stage and rapid-fire fingers) is atop the fortress, a glittery executioner’s hood over her face as she tears strips off the riffs. The only woman on stage all night who wasn’t getting pretend-murdered or taking photos of it, or already dead.

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Image © Clea-marie Thorne

Speaking of paranormal weather events and/ or climate change, we need to take a minute to honour the drum solo. The drum solo was incredibly epic. Out of this world and inducing multiple cowbell-isms.

With all due seriousness, bow your head to your keyboard and type in ‘Glen Sobel’. You’re welcome.

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Image © Clea-marie Thorne

The bass player, Chuck Garric, rejoins Glen and Alice Cooper is led out onstage in a straitjacket, followed by a blow-up Billion Dollar Baby that is too kooky to describe.

The four-piece harmonies the band adds are phenomenal, including Nita, Chuck and the other two fantastic guitarists Ryan Roxie and Tommy Henriksen. It really felt like a family of talented individuals working for a common cause. Certainly they played at the Fire Fight Australia benefit concert while they were in Sydney.

For a further contribution to Australia’s landscape they even segued in a little AC/DC ‘Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap’ at the start of the first encore track, ‘Department Of Youth’, then sent us home with ‘School’s Out’ including a snippet from Pink Floyd’s ‘Another Brick In The Wall Pt 2’.

“May your nightmares be horrifying,” was the final blessing he bestowed. Thanks, Mr Cooper, yours too.


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