Review: Pandemonium Rocks @ Broadwater Parklands (Gold Coast)

Alice Cooper at Pandemonium Rocks @ Broadwater Parklands (Gold Coast) on 27 April, 2024 - image © Clea-marie Thorne
With an insatiable passion for live music and photography adventures, this mistress of gig chronicles loves the realms of metal and blues but wanders all musical frontiers and paints you vibrant landscapes through words and pics (@lilmissterror) that share the very essence of her sonic journeys with you.

Innovator of heavy-glam-metal-rock horror-themed musical performances, Alice Cooper (aka the Godfather of shock rock and ol' black eyes) in cahoots with legendary band Blondie, fronted by Debbie Harry (aka the Marilyn Munro of punk), led the stacked line-up, albeit reduced, at Broadwater Parklands (Gold Coast) last Saturday (27 April).

After Palaye Royale needed to pull out from the almost final line-up (due to personal reasons), Gold Coast locals The Silencio jumped at the chance to open the Gold Coast leg of the festival. They'll be warming us for Psychedelic Furs, Wheatus, Wolfmother and Cosmic Psychos.

I get a whiff of the food vans already dishing up tasty bites as I partake in the band t-shirt trade. Stopping to stash my new band tees, I get chatting with some punters from the 'so glad the festival went ahead' camp.

Four were VIPers going through the process of partial refunds, so it was great to see them here in great spirits and keen for it. Their enthusiasm is catching and resonating with my glass half-full motto.

The Silencio
The Silencio - image © Clea-marie Thorne

With no time to waste I head to the barrier for The Silencio to show us why they got the slot. Well, I'll be damned. I know they've been together for around ten years but not sure how solid – but solid is the word to describe the alternative rockers.

A few influences can be heard and they are rockin' it nice, bright and tight. Fans at the front along with new recruits are giving them raging applause after each song on their short set that included songs from their latest album.

Lead singer, Jan Nicholas Blom leaves a lasting impression as he makes his way to the barrier to sing amongst us towards the end of the set. You should jump on these guys and better still, get along to their next live gig.

A quick changeover has Cosmic Psychos before us. They too have more than a bunch of fans in the crowd. More people continue to arrive with some making their way closer to the stage.

The lads who have casually moseyed onto the stage are opening their set with 'Pub' which is also casual, just faster. After this, the drums signal another pub-themed song confirming it to be a 'Nice Day To Go To The Pub'! We can substitute 'festival' for 'pub' here. This one brings a groove that we bop along to with many cans held up high saluting the band.

Cosmic Psychos
Cosmic Psychos - image © Clea-marie Thorne

Cosmic Psychos continue punking it up with a short but killer set list. Fans are getting their fill of fan favourites 'F...wit City', 'Dead In A Ditch' and 'Lost Cause'.

These are all thrashed out with splintering solos, brutal bashing of the skins with an occasional high drumstick throw and twirl thrown in to wow the crowd. Dare I leave off discarded shirt and dropped daks revealing butt cracks?! Punters soak up this energising set ending with crusher track, 'David Lee Roth'.

After another well-oiled changeover, Wolfmother, who are always a festival treat, are up. The last time I saw them play the Gold Coast, it was a little farther south. That time, mad fans stormed the fence and the barrier in sheer excitable bliss and chaos unfolded. I don't feel security will have the same concern today.

The crowd here are buzzing with anticipation, but there is an underlying chill calm at the Pandemonium farm. Pulling out the fan favourites to the growing crowd, Wolfmother pound our ears with the grinding vintage feels of 'Dimension' followed by 'Victorious' before the one that tips the fans over the edge and into a signing hysteria. It is 'Woman'.

Personal fave 'Midnight Train' and 'Apple Tree' are among others that keep us in the groove. Andrew Stockdale's guitar chops are making it a memorable set for fans who are recording his solos on their phones when they are not taking selfie clips of themselves singing with mates.

Wolfmother - image © Clea-marie Thorne

As Wolfmother serve up the last of their nine-song set with 'Joker And The Thief', the beers and lyrics are flowing more freely while a merry mosh is happening close to the stage. I am caught up in the energy too as it starts to feel more and more like a huge outdoor party on the Goldie!

The crowd continues to pack into the festival site as Wheatus appear onstage. Responding to our booming cheers, 'Temporary Song' makes for the best breezy afternoon opener that has us feeling right at home rocking out under a blue, cloud-smattered sky.

"ACCA DACCA" get a tribute from Wheatus as we're spoilt with their cover of 'Rock 'n' Roll Damnation'. What a refreshing choice to lead us into 'Through' and 'Fourteen'.

Brendan B. Brown (BBB), the only OG member, has been frontman with the most dialogue at the festival so far. He gregarious recounts his previous experiences in Australia.

He tells how they were once mistaken as Smash Mouth on TV, then next minute they're in Australia which was not long after he got married but when he got back, married he was not!

With the last insight revealing the motivation for 'Lemonade' we get that followed by 'Valentine'. Wheatus mojo is alive and well with 'Leroy', a song BBB tells us had the video filmed at the Hi-Fi Bar in Melbourne and somehow they ended up in a lawsuit, which they won.

Well, I don't know about that, but this song is keeping the party vibe going. Punters are bopping and yelling out the chorus with hands going from waving in the air to clapping in time with the beat in no real coordinated fashion – it's the beers!

Finishing with a groovelicious (move on grammar nazis) double dose of old-school Wheatus' fake Quicksand song 'Hey, Mr Brown' and the big banger that made Australia fall in love with them, 'Teenage Dirtbag'. Punters all around me are losing their sh.t over this one. Me included. Yeah, baby!

Wheatus - image © Clea-marie Thorne

Moving from the easy tones of Wheatus' pop-rock to the post-punk, new wave of The Psychedelic Furs, new faces move into the crowd stacking up before the stage. More lights are added to the stage and the band all saunter onto the stage, looking dapper.

'Mr. Jones' kicks it off and moves punters to become "an army on the (outdoor) dance floor" getting lost in the hypnotic, nostalgic and melodic feels of 'Love My Way'.

I'm stoked that Richard Butler can still eloquently manipulate his vocal cords to meet the instrumental mood or lyrical vibes of a song. One minute he is channelling David Bowie, next it's Johnny Rotten. Better still, is his own, unique, prickly audio vibration that is delicious live and loud!

We are then swept away by the killer romantic hooks of 'Pretty In Pink' and gladly grooving to the lofty relentless rhythms of 'President Gas', which has lyrics still relevant today.

The melodious beats of 'Heartbreak Beat' are followed by yet another fan favourite 'Heaven' – hearing the Furs live has been a slice of heaven indeed. Eight crackers just weren't enough! Can you come back soon?

Well, the festival that could is jam packed as Blondie kick off their set with 'X Offender'. Punters go ballistic with a boisterous welcome as Debbie Harry fronts up with her perfectly platinum blonde hair, dark sunglasses, tarted up in yellow suit with black and white platform pumps. Diva!

'Hanging On The Telephone' (The Nerves cover) keeps the crowd's energy up and feet and lips loose before we dance ourselves into the chugging, shimmying beats of 'One Way Or Another'.

Instrumentally, the band are delivering on-point. An unstoppable and engaging Harry shows us just how strong her performance is moving through more hits, including 'Nothing Is Real But The Girl', 'Call Me', and 'Will Anything Happen'.

Blondie - image © Clea-marie Thorne

A green-lit stage and digital backdrop matches the vibe of their classic hit, 'Atomic'. I don't know about Harry and the rest of Blondie, but I am embracing these moments of shoegazing swing and dreamy tones of 'In The Flesh', acknowledged as the breakthrough hit for Blondie in Australia.

Mellow mood over. It's time for this black duck to lose it with 'Rapture' – I'm torn between being 'that' punter who records it or the one dancing like nobody is watching. Hell, I'll be a bit of both!

I ditch the video for 'The Tide Is High' (The Paragons cover) and keep dancing and singing. 'Long Time' then 'Maria' are before big banger 'Heart Of Glass'. Harry ensures we know who the rest of Blondie are before they conclude the 14-song set list with the second track from the 'Eat To The Beat' album, 'Dreaming'.

Blondie remain a solid and edgy act who bring the goods heavier live! Harry is still stylin' it up with an impeccable fashion sense and even changed it up a bit during the set. The familiar instrumentation and Harry's instantly recognisable voice are creating new memories with the same songs from the soundtracks of our youth.

There is much buzz about the last set that I didn't notice black curtains raised to drape the front of the stage. Speakers spring to life with the banging sounds of a gavel as two sinister figures in Medico della Peste masks cross the stage ringing handbells. Executioners, perhaps?

The curtains give way to a huge banner of a front page of a newspaper. The headline reads 'Banned in Australia! Alice Cooper'. This screams in jest at the title of their shortened opener, 'Lock Me Up'. Yells and screams come from fans in the crowd as Pandemonium is unleashed!

A single spotlight illuminates the newspaper drop, as the familiar silhouette of Alice Cooper in his top hat slices through the banner while an invisible judge is demanding "Alice Cooper! How do you plead?" Cooper retorts in a proud and gravelly tone "Guilty!" at the same time revealing himself to us.

Joining his entourage of exemplary musicians – Chuck Garric (bass), Glen Sobel (drums), Ryan Roxie (guitar), Tommy Henriksen (guitar) and to my utter glee guitarist Nita Strauss who returned to the fold last year after a short absence for an ongoing side project.

Alice Cooper.2
Alice Cooper - image © Clea-marie Thorne

Fans are nuts for Alice Cooper and his squad who have our attention and imagination after such a grand entrance. They give us a rocking 'Welcome To The Show' and we love it. Next is the familiar intro to 'No More Mr Nice Guy', the version that raises the middle finger to nasty souls. 'I'm Eighteen' has mosh karaoke fully fledged ahead of 'Under My Wheels', 'Billion Dollar Babies' and the scream-along song 'Hey Stoopid'.

A huge white boa constrictor drapes the shoulders of Alice Cooper during 'Snakebite' to mixed squeals of delight and fright from the crowd. 'Feed My Frankenstein' is met with roars from our lips, gyrations from our hips and our libidos rising.

During the triple-treat shred-fest happening mid-stage an enormous Frankenstein appears to have broken its chains to come blundering around the stage. Not to let the mood wane, the guitar solo intro to 'Poison' drives us even wilder as the audible vibrations run through our music-loving veins.

I get goose-pimples from the voice of Vincent Price. A video clip of the great narrator appears on the framed digital backdrop as he introduces 'Black Widow': "...and here, my prize, the black widow. Isn't she lovely?"

"Hey! Cooper stole my jacket said a woman passing me by!" I chuckle as Alice Cooper changes into a straight jacket to give us the lament of the 'Ballad Of Dwight Fry', before a 19th Century powder-wigged Marie Antoideath (his wife Sheryl) kisses him then has his head chopped off under a guillotine! It's all make believe of course!

The band showcase more of their collective chops without their Master with 'Killer' and 'I Love The Dead'. Now we see why. An elevated podium draped in flags appears. It has to be 'Elected' that is next invading our ear holes. Theatrics unfolds with Alice acting as Uncle Sam for the song.

This master of rocking shock-horror-metal must have made a shady deal with the devil for rock immortality so it seems – his voice, stamina, drive and conviction to continue to give the best performance every damn time has to supernatural. Right?

Alice Cooper.3
Alice Cooper - image © Clea-marie Thorne

Roxie is once again joined by Strauss and Henriksen to give us licks, tricks and commanding stances – their shoulder hugs and playful antics between them have been fun to witness. Roxie even tosses picks like drums sticks teasing the crowd, then throws one their way.

The gods and the goddess of the axes have oozed confidence all set long. Now out in front, all four are giving it up as good as it can get. This can't be it? We call for more. Yes! An encore.

We are audibly hit hard, like from a nun with a ruler! Never mind though, 'School's Out'! Giant colour balloons float off the stage. The band gives us a snippet of 'Another Brick In The Wall Pt. 2' as the digital display turns to a brick wall. Cooper pops any balloon that comes his way, releasing confetti hidden inside.

We sing, dance, scream and cheer to the very end. "School's out foooreeeeverrr!" It was over too soon! Alice Cooper and his killer squad are now standing close together and giving bows for our wild cheers of gratitude.

We received one hell of a festival today. Alice Cooper ensured we experienced a show that was tight and polished, bulging with horror-themed chills and thrills set to hard rock and glam metal music at its finest. One could say he put the boa on the Gold Coast's first Pandemonium.

More photos from the festival.

Let's Socialise

Facebook pink circle    Instagram pink circle    YouTube pink circle    YouTube pink circle

 OG    NAT

Twitter pink circle    Twitter pink circle