Hordern Pavilion Saturday 21st October 2017
It was way back in 1977 when Alice Cooper first came to Australia and uttered these fateful words to his then captive audience – “Welcome to my nightmare”.
Fast forward 40 years to 2017 and the undisputed king of shock-rock let those of us that were brave enough to attend Sydney’s Hordern Pavilion know that the nightmare is still going.
At 9.15pm Alice appeared on stage spinning his cane like a possessed cheerleader for the duration of “Brutal Planet” before hurling the unwanted accessory into the audience with reckless abandon. Whilst sneering, he then told his minions that from now on, it’s “No more Mr nice guy”, and you are all “under my wheels”.
In typical Alice style the show consisted of many macabre props which included knives, a sword, syringes, electrocution, a 17th century French guillotine, deformed two headed baby dolls and a few other goodies that he never leaves home without.
Supported by his aggressive backing band, featuring long term guitarist Ryan Roxie (since 1996), as well as the heavily tattooed Chuck Garric on base (since 2002). More recent members (2011) drummer Glen Sobel & Tommy Henriksen on guitar were also joined by Nita Strauss, a “Woman of Mass Distraction” who replaced Orianthi in 2014. Alice performed a few of his more popular pieces including “Department of Youth”, “Pain” & “Billion dollar Babies” among other favorites to the wild applause from the crowd.
Alice took the applause from his minions as insubordination, pointing angrily at the throng and screamed we were all “Poison”. He then left the stage returning some moments later dressed in a blood splattered laboratory gown preparing to perform radical electro-shock therapy on himself, however the treatment went horribly wrong, causing him to transform into a 10 foot tall monster that prowled the stage menacing the band members until he was able to be restrained and taken away by a pair of sinister looking masked helpers.
A relatively normal looking Alice then returned to the stage for one of the many highlights of the show, whereupon he reached into his toy box, dragged “Cold Ethyl” out and proceeded to treat her like a rag doll. During “Only women bleed”, Ethyl pleaded for love, only to be stabbed in the heart by a cold and uncaring Alice. For that Alice was constrained in a strait jacket and placed in the care of Nurse Rozetta, who teased him mercilessly before plunging a syringe into his back in an attempt to sedate him.
Somehow Alice was able to loosen the restraints enough to break free of his bindings and then attempted to strangle Rozetta before being overcome again. Only this time he was shackled into a guillotine that was wheeled onto the stage for his execution. Rozetta took great joy in releasing the blade that would chop the head off her would-be attacker, grinning like a banshee as his head fell into the basket.
The tempo of the band slowed a little while a couple of creepy guys wheeled the guillotine with Alice’s body & severed head from the stage. Shortly after, Alice returned to the stage carrying his severed head aloft stating to all before him that “I love the dead” before discarding the severed appendage into his toy box. Something to play with later perhaps.
For an hour & a half Alice strutted the stage dodging death, inflicting pain, conducting his band and showing all the energy of an “eighteen” year old before bidding us goodnight and leaving the stage. Alice was then coaxed back some minutes later by the wildly excited audience for an encore.
Sensing that his people were in high spirits, Alice returned and declared that the lesson was over, “School’s out” and now it is time to party. While several giant confetti filled balloons were released by his goons for the audience to have a ball with, Alice stood there like a cat that patiently waits for a bird to fly within striking distance.
As those balloons got near Alice, he casually slashed at them with a knife causing the confetti, like feathers, to fly in all directions. When the destruction of all the oversized party props was complete, Alice simply took a bow and left the stage. When the lights came on the stunned audience was left wondering, was that real or just a bizarre nightmare shared by all who were present? Hmm…..
Mick “Chippy” Bettler