The Theatre of Death Tour 2009
6th December 2009
A couple of years ago I did an interview with Alice Cooper when he was touring the UK promoting an autobiographical volume “Golf Monster” which taught me more about that game with the stick, the little ball and the hole than I’ll ever need to know. As a consequence, I was invited to write a little promotional material for his SPV release “Along Came A Spider” which is for my money the best album he has made for several years and one of the best of his career. After that there was talk of touring the album which came to nothing and in its place, Alice has been touring a show called “Theatre of Death” which finally reached London this weekend.
“Theatre of Death” is essentially a Greatest Hits show with the added visual attraction that Alice dies five times during the course of the show. Support for the tour is Manraze. Manraze feature Phil Collen from Def Leppard and Paul Cook from the Sex Pistols and certainly have the fire and panache to carry off a great visual show but on this evidence, they just don’t have the songs. If you were going to return home after the show with memories of any of the choruses, they were certainly going to come from Alice’s portion of the night and not from Manraze.
Alice’s set was being filmed for a prospective future DVD release and he showed that, like him or hate him, he is still the consummate showman. Tonight he was given a lethal injection from a huge comedy syringe, he was hung by the neck until dead, he was executed by guillotine and died in a magician’s sword trick or two but still came back to thrill the audience with a full-blooded encore of “Schools Out”.
The songs ran the whole gamut of his career from his first group of albums through his commercial rebirth with “Poison” to “Vengeance is Mine” from the recent “Along Came A Spider” record I mentioned.
However, that song aside the set was light on songs from his most recent albums and this is the downside of playing the hits. The commercial market for singles from someone like Alice is dead and so while the albums continue to sell well you’re unlikely to see him locking horns with Lady GaGa in the UK Top 40 singles chart anytime soon. If I was selecting Alice’s set I would choose more material from the new album, from “Last Temptation”, from “Brutal Planet” but it is a small complaint when we have just a rich smorgasbord in front of us.
And it is the visuals with Alice that will keep you coming back for more. He goes through more costume changes than anyone in the rock world this side of Stevie Nicks. He waves a sabre at the crowd, unloads “Alice” dollars in their direction and throws out necklaces of “Dirty Diamonds”. That he manages to do all this without hardly missing a beat is truly a feat of energy and stagecraft. Alice is not going to see 50 again but he is lean and has enough momentum to carry him for the beginning of the show to the end and then some.
Vincent Furnier with his golf club and his Bible has, thankfully, cleaned up his act, but Alice is still the reprobate villain of the stage we know and love and long may he run.