ALICE COOPER, THE CULT, CREEPER

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Alice Cooper is one of those few true legends

ALICE COOPER, THE CULT, CREEPER
Leeds Arena - 1st June 2022

The sad part about the days we are now living in is that true legends are becoming few and far between. Alice Cooper is one of those few true legends, still actively making music, and remarkably still playing live. Homage must therefore be paid by attending when the master of Shock Rock performs anywhere that you can possibly get to. And there was a full bill of fare on tonight, the last leg of the UK dates before continuing abroad, and I have to mention that the last three tours that Alice has done over here have all finished at this venue. So the first band up was Creeper, who I remember seeing for the first time at Download in 2015. They were pretty good then, but they have certainly streamlined their act since. Vocalist Will Gould has polished his moves and on-stage poses, including a rather weird one where he was “dominated” by one of the guitarists during ‘Thorns Of Love’, while Hannah Greenwood on keyboards has certainly become more noticeable. They couldn’t throw much out to us as they only had twenty-five minutes on stage, but the five songs they gave us were seemingly well appreciated.

Set List:- Cyanide, Thorns of Love, Down Below, Midnight, Annabelle.

Second band up was The Cult, a band I (as far as I am aware) had never seen before. I was aware of some of their music, (one in particular), but generally speaking a bit lacking in knowledge here. But then, as often happens on such occasions, I started to recognise some of their music, although I couldn’t have told you the song titles, apart from “the one”. It was a bit of a pain, only being allowed to photograph them from the side, and then from outside the barriers that separated the pit from the audience, and this was made even more tricky when vocalist Ian Astbury started berating the crowd, demanding that they “got off their arses” as “nobody stays sat down at a Cult concert”, or something to that effect. There were actually a lot of people wearing The Cult t-shirts and jackets in the hall, and people did heed him, but generally only those down on the floor. To be fair, they did get the crowd going after a bit more encouragement, and I thought guitarist Billy Duffy was still pretty nifty on guitar. Astbury showed particular disdain for his tambourine throughout, throwing it down after use, standing on it, and a particularly neat trick where he flipped it up with his heel, onto his foot, kicking it behind him where it then rolled to rest at the foot of his microphone stand (which he also knocked around a bit) just in the right place for when he next needed it. He actually threw it to someone in the crowd later. Following ‘Rain’ they played the one I did know very well, namely ‘She Sells Sanctuary’, by which time most people had got into them. Astbury actually made a comment like “This will be the last time you get to see The Cult and Alice Cooper on the same stage, or maybe not, who knows?” Who indeed?

Set List:- Sun King, Automatic Blues, Sweet Soul Sister, Soul Asylum, Edie (Ciao Baby), Aphrodisiac Jacket, Lil' Devil, Wild Flower, Fire Woman, Revolution, Rain, She Sells Sanctuary, Love Removal Machine.

And so, to the main deal. Alice Cooper was returning to Leeds Arena again, after over a two and a half year hiatus. I had thought, maybe, that the attendance would be slightly less than pre-Covid; a lot of Alice fans, me included, are not as young as we were, but I was wrong and the arena was very well attended. I do sometimes forget that Alice appeals to the younger fans also, and so it was tonight. Before the curtain dropped, a strange hunch-backed character came out carrying a lamp and did what I can only describe as what a safety car would do on a runway before the aircraft take off, checking the floor half way across before scuttling back. We got the recorded “welcome” message and the curtain dropped, Alice appearing with his tails and very tall top hat with ‘Feed My Frankenstein’. He went back to the seventies with ‘No More Mr Nice Guy’, chasing the hunch-back off the stage after not having his stick thrown to him correctly. Anyone familiar with Alice’s music will have been happy to hear old and new favourites, and ‘Fallen in Love’ was the first one to catch me out as I failed to recognise the song from ‘Paranormal’, possibly because only he and Tommy Hendrickson started it off, with Alice playing harmonica.

All Cooper shows are as much about spectacle as they are the music, with costume changes and dangerous women (Alice’s wife Cheryl) coming on during ‘Roses On White Lace’ and pushing a pram in ‘Steven’. This led into ‘Dead Babies’ where Alice ended up under the guillotine, followed by a truncated version of ‘I Love The Dead’ after which Alice returned triumphant for ‘Escape’ which was another one that caught me out, and I don’t think I have ever seen him play that song live before. We had a new piece of equipment in ‘Billion Dollar Babies’ that shot Dollar bills and metallic streamers into the crowd, while the giant “baby” again romped around, and finally the big ugly guy turned up again for ‘Teenage Frankenstein’.

It wasn’t long before they returned with ‘School’s Out/Another Brick In The Wall’ with bubbles and the big balloons, two of which seemed to be flying around for ages. The band was introduced, but we knew who they all were already, and that was it for another tour. Bands “progress” and alter over the years; generally they have to to survive, and it’s very rare to see someone today who has been around so long but still does roughly the same thing as when they gained their original notoriety. Alice does this. No-one is quite sure how, and who knows how much longer we will be able to partake in such forms of entertainment. Things unfortunately don’t last forever, and I would encourage you, if and when you still can, to make sure you see this guy, before you can’t. You have been warned.

Set List:- Feed My Frankenstein, No More Mr. Nice Guy, Bed Of Nails, Hey Stoopid, Fallen In Love, Be My Lover, Go Man Go, Under My Wheels, Guitar Solo, Roses On White Lace, I'm Eighteen, Poison, Billion Dollar Babies, Black Widow Jam, Drum Solo, Steven, Dead Babies, I Love The Dead, Escape, Teenage Frankenstein.
Encore: School's Out.

P.S. We decided to go to a bar for a drink after the show, rather than sit in the car park for ages waiting to get out. While I was at the bar, this American guy came up and started enthusing about the show he had just seen. “Wow man, that Alice Cooper show, the guy is incredible, unbelievable. And he is how old? Seventy four, and he can still do that. Fantastic. I am only forty eight and I couldn’t do that”. Seriously enthusing! (Probably not exactly verbatim, but you get the idea). I asked if it was his first time seeing Cooper, to which he answered yes, but I had already guessed that, and I said Alice is like that in every show, to which he then asked how many times I had seen him. I told him I couldn’t remember, but quite a few as I wrote for Fireworks/Rocktopia (got to get the names out at every opportunity) and would be reviewing the show and had been taking photographs that evening. He then grabbed my hand saying “Thank you for your service”, before speaking to the barmaid and scurrying off. That’s something I would never have expected an American to say to me, and I was amused by the fact that, as an American, the first place he saw Alice was in Leeds. Music’s a funny old thing isn’t it?

Andy B & Lou C. Pictures Andy B.

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