fri 19/07/2024

Alice Cooper & The Cult, Resorts World Arena, Birmingham review - rock’n’roll veterans bring it on | reviews, news & interviews

Alice Cooper & The Cult, Resorts World Arena, Birmingham review - rock’n’roll veterans bring it on

Alice Cooper & The Cult, Resorts World Arena, Birmingham review - rock’n’roll veterans bring it on

More proof that rock’n’roll is the best anti-aging supplement available

Alice Cooper: he used to be such a sweet, sweet thingJenny Risher

Rock’n’roll has been credited with incredible powers of rejuvenation many times before, but if there are two men who seem to have seriously benefitted from its mystical power, it’s Alice Cooper (74 years old) and Ian Astbury (60 years old). These are two men who would be eligible for free bus passes in the UK but who can still get down with the best of them – and are still in miraculously fine voice.

The Cult were the first of the main acts to hit the stage in Birmingham this week and, despite whispers of a new album being on the horizon, restricted their set to the band’s '80s purple patch. In fact, the whole of their show was drawn from the Sonic Temple, Electric and Love albums. Somewhat surprisingly, this reinforced not only how good tunes such as “Lil’ Devil” and “She Sells Sanctuary” sound over 30 years after the event, but also how lumpen the likes of “Sun King” and “Soul Asylum” feel these days.

Still, Astbury and guitarist Billy Duffy brought it on in no uncertain terms, with Astbury especially bouncing around the stage with a tambourine, bandana, man-bun and the slim figure of a long-distance runner. “This is for all you trippers,” he announced as the band kicked into “Aphrodisiac Jacket”. “Microdosing is big now and it’s way better than beer.” So, maybe that explained the lack of middle-age spread, at least.

Alice Cooper’s show was everything that the audience, who almost all looked like they aren’t going to be seeing 50 again, expected and hoped to see. Backed by his long-term guitarist Nita Strauss and a band of hair rockers that looked like a reanimated Hanoi Rocks – with the obligatory leather trousers, bandanas and preposterous rock-star posing – the sound was more '80s pop metal than the garage glam of his '70s band. Nevertheless, the set took in classic tunes of his heyday as America’s Rock’n’Roll Bogey Man, from “No More Mr Nice Guy” to “I’m Eighteen” and “Billion Dollar Babies” but also more recent fare like “Poison”, “Shut Up and Rock” and “Go Man Go”.

Needless to say, there were also the famous props, such as a straightjacket for “Steven”, giant Frankenstein for “Feed My Frankenstein”, butcher’s cleaver for “Dead Babies”, ghostly bride for “Roses on White Lace” and the infamous guillotine to give the monster his comeuppance. However Alice, slippery creature that he is, managed to rise from the dead to close the show with the evergreen “School’s Out”, which was also given a dash of Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall”.

Shows in huge barns like the Resorts World Arena can be performance marmite to fans of live music but Alice’s set really demanded a stage of this size. In fact, over 50 years since his first appearance before a shockable public, it was more than apparent that he is probably the last man standing who can put on a performance that takes rock’n’roll as close to showbiz as possible without slipping into naffness, but that still retains real integrity while providing grade-A entertainment.

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