Alice Cooper Brings His Nightmare World to Perth Arena

“You have been chosen to spend the night with Alice Cooper in his nightmare world. It’s too late for you, he’s coming…”

This week our city fell victim to the king of shock-rock, one of the most frightening and intense performers to ever terrify and audience- the iconic Alice Cooper. Since 1968, Alice Cooper has travelled the world playing dark, theatrical rock concerts, amassing a cult following of loyal fans. Cooper is credited with changing the look and sound of heavy metal, being a pioneer of bringing horror themes into rock music in the early 70’s and becoming a household name after his epic concert appearance in Wayne’s World. In 2017, Alice Cooper has embarked on a world tour supporting his characteristically creepy new album Paranormal. The band took over Perth Arena last Tuesday, with some high profile special guests joining them on stage. The events that unfolded were gruesome and deranged, and the show one difficult to forget.

Supporting Alice on this lap of planet was the legendary guitarist Ace Frehley, who burned through the best of his work with Kiss. Ace was a founding member of the legendary band, and has made a surprise comeback in recent years, releasing two albums in less than 24 months. 2017’s Anomaly is a return to the New York bar-room heavy metal that rocketed him into superstardom in the mid-70’s. Songs about girls, cars and black leather backed by Marshall stacks and big choruses – a traditional, but undeniably successful combination.

Frehley’s live set in Perth mixed his raucous new material with Kiss hits like ‘Heaven’s On Fire’ and ‘Detroit Rock City’. Despite recruiting a flawless live band for the tour, Ace was clearly showing signs of his 66 years of age. Session drummer Scoot Coogan handled most of the vocal duties, and rhythm guitarist Ritchie Scarlett easily matched Ace’s skills. He lacked the chops and stage energy that originally rose Kiss to stardom, and struggled to entertain the lukewarm Perth crowd. The set closed with his signature smoke effect in a long drawn out solo, tiny flares sent sparks and smog spewing from his fingers as he fiercely teared into the strings, bowed, and left the stage. Ace Frehley didn’t own the stage like a great performer can, but deserves plenty of respect as a famous and talented musician who’s been on the road for over 40 years. He simply never was, nor ever will be a frontman.

As the lights go down on Alice Cooper, a black curtain obscures the stage. Cracks of thunder, rattling chains and the low hum of amps rises with the roar of the crowd. The curtain drops to exhibit a shadowy yet elaborate set resembling an abandoned graveyard, riddled with smoke, metal chains and human bones. A 5 piece backing band of veteran Rockers burst onto stage in worn leather and animal furs all chugging at the heavy riff of ‘Brutal Planet’.

“You have been chosen to spend the night with Alice Cooper in his nightmare world. It’s too late for you, he’s coming…”

From the depths of the stage, a tall black figure appears wearing a long vampire cloak. Alice Cooper struts to the forward stage, casting off the huge cloak to reveal a spiked leather jacket, brandishing his signature black cane on one side and a microphone in a pistol holster on the other.

The seasoned performer commands the crowd from his first step onstage. The man is in great shape for is age and still wields timeless allure, swinging his hips as he struts about the stage and winking through thick black eyeliner. At the end of almost every song, the band miraculously change outfits and instruments in a matter of seconds. Alice himself being passed various blood-soaked victorian jackets, waistcoats coats and top hats from an evil minion in a rainbow coloured box.

The crowd erupts at the opening riff of ‘Poison’ and continues to applause through a drown out solo from wickedly talented female guitarist Nita Struass, who proceeds to trade licks with the 2 other masterful slingers.

“I know you’re hungry, and here comes dinner…”

‘Feed My Frankenstein’ is undoubtably the musical highlight of the night. Three skeleton henchmen wearing gas masks storm on stage to kidnap Alice and fasten him to an electric chair, the chair erupts in electrical sparks and smoke obscuring the stage and Alice disappears without a trace. Moments later, a 10 foot tall Frankenstein puppet storms onto the stage attempting to eat the various band members.

Alice’s showmanship is still shocking to this day. During ‘Woman of Mass Distraction’ he pulls a life-size marionette doll of a young woman from his mysterious box, dragging her by the hair down stage and kissing her neck before plunging a knife into her back. His intensity onstage is captivating- combined with his grim lyrical topics and finely finessed outfits he maintains the ability to frighten almost anyone out of their seat.

In the final song of the set, a rendition of ‘Pain’, Alice is met by a sultry skeleton nurse on stage, who sedates him with a giant syringe and executes him by guillotine. In the wailing applause and detonating pyrotechnics, the legendary Rocker emerges to bow to the audience, holding a prosthetic of his own severed head!

To conclude this memorable spectacle in over the top rock ’n’ roll excess, Alice Cooper and his band returned to the stage to the sound of a ringing school bell and the opening chords of “Schools Out”. Partway into the 3 part harmonised guitar solos, smoke cannons and full blown fireworks the bombastic encore jam morphs into a overdriven rendition of Pink Floyd’s ‘The Wall’. Almost unbelievably, rock legend Bob Geldoff strolls on stage unannounced to join in singing the chorus, and the crowd almost lose their minds. Suddenly, dozens of giant balloons rain from the ceiling and confetti cannons fire into the crowd as Alice, truly in his chaotic element, stands on a monitor downstage and slashes balloons open with a Samurai sword. The band rocket into a high energy outro and the music comes to a halt. The extensive cast emerge and bow, then the king of shock-rock raises a leather-gloved hand to wave goodbye to an adoring audience.

Going to watch an Alice Cooper gig is more than watching a Rock Concert, its a full fledged theatrical experience. Every moment is rehearsed and choreographed to perfection, every band member assumes a character on stage that they emerge from the moment they step off. Alice Cooper is a role inspired by grim horror movies. The seductive villain, the woman killer, the monster. The songs are anthems, but they are merely background music for the spectacular costumes, elaborate set and nightmarish narrative of antics Cooper weaves through during the show. Some may have been disappointed by the lack of connection with the keen audience on the night, but the polished showmanship of his live experience is why Alice Cooper has become the most enduring and beloved Heavy Metal entertainer of all time. 49 years after Alice Cooper first rose to fame, he still wreaks havoc on audiences at every corner of the globe. It’s only a matter of time before he next descends on Perth. Until then, the King wishes you horrible dreams and nightmares until he chooses us again.