Alice Cooper, Friday September 5, 1997

Perth Entertainment Centre

The tendency for withering rockers to beef up their shows with awesome explosions, technological diversions and improbably large inflatable farm animals is the norm in this age. The fact that we see none of it on this tour simply reiterates that this was Alice Cooper’s nightmarish gag twenty four years ago and he would now rather let the Marilyn Mansons of the world set the pace in cheesy theatrics.

The master of shock that the world has known since 1969 travels light these days. No noose, no public beheading, just a lot of flippant taunting from a group of clowns and his small, young and versatile band.

As Alice rose majestically from his dumper bin to banish the mischievous clowns from his stage and acknowledge the hog calls of his fans, the divide between the guy wearing a Spinal Tap shirt to my right and the one wearing an Alice moniker to my left seemed too broad for both of them to be occupying the same mind space. They weren’t. Herein lies the great Alice Cooper ability to combine mirth with misguided mysticism for his audience, albeit manifest as a revisitation of early 70s prog rock and a couple of hits in the late 80s when glam was again the thang.

No More Mr Nice Guy, from his most visited album of the night, Billion Dollar Babies (1973), received the first huge cheer of the eve as Cooper croaked out the melody with unerring support from his vinyl clad backing band. Lost in America, From the Inside, Poison, Cold Ethyl, School’s Out and yes, animal lovers, the boa constrictor supposedly held up in customs, all made welcome appearances on the Perth stage. Especially ‘touching’ was the inclusion, to much giggling, of a plastic snake moments before the real one emerged. Let us hope he did that one especially for Australian audiences so we can talk about it endlessly for years to come.

Alleycat Alice sitting on his dustbin for Only Women Bleed, alter-ego Alice for Unfinished Sweet and Eagles’ guernsey Alice for the encore of Department of Youth and Under My Wheels were the range of guises that Cooper commands in 1997. Beyond this toss, Alice Cooper’s grand prog rock symphonies actually warranted pulling on the old tight black shirt for a night of grimace and giggle. Something for the music fans, not the wowsers.