Before joining Motley Crue on their final tour of the UK, Alice Cooper plays a few headline Halloween shows, including one at Swindon’s leisure centre.
The sold-out Oasis is normally a leisure centre, not normally used to hundreds of people turning up at once, some in Halloween fancy dress, for the visit of a rock legend. However, the hall is full by the time the spoken word introduction to “Black Widow” fills the room. The curtain drops with a shower of fireworks to reveal the band, made up of Nita Strauss, Ryan Roxie and Tommy Henriksen on guitar, Chuck Garric on bass and Glen Sobel on drums. Alice is stood in a long black hooded cloak, which he removes to reveal a red and black striped suit (the first of many costumes!).
“House of Fire” follows, with the crowd singing along already, setting the scene for a hit-filled night. “No More Mr Nice Guy” and “Under My Wheels” follow, with all three guitarists trading solos and running around the stage. Nita Strauss is a great shredder, and has some tricks up her sleeve too, as she spins the guitar around her neck during a fierce solo on the front of the stage. She can sing too, as she joins in with “I’ll Bite Your Face Off” while interacting with Alice.
“Billion Dollar Babies” brings Alice to the front of the stage wielding a sword with bundles of money pierced on it, which he shakes off showering the front rows of the audience. “Be My Lover”, “Lost in America”, and “Hey Stupid” keep the hits coming and the audience singing. Great solos from all 3 guitarists seem to serve up a competition, but with no clear winner. Well ok, maybe Nita!
“Dirty Diamonds” sees Alice throwing fake necklaces into the crowd, before exiting the stage to leave Glen to play the obligatory drum solo. The double bass drums are worked well, and it ends with flames coming from the end of the sticks! The band come back, and Nita gives us another solo, before forming a 4-guitar line at the front of the stage to rock the song out!
Alice is back, this time in black leather, with his snake wrapped around his neck, to give us “Go to Hell”.
The theatrics are really building up, as we expect, and the snake is swapped for a whip with which Alice proceeds to scare audience and band alike! Another costume change for “Wicked Young Man” sees Alice eventually spearing a paparazzi photographer that has been stalking him around the stage!
Stepping it up again, “Feed My Frankenstein” sees Alice in a white, blood-drenched robe, and being strapped to a box with smoke billowing and sparks flying. A giant Frankenstein’s Monster then comes on to finish the song while lurching around the stage!
The ultimate is left to last, with the expected guillotine wheeled out during “The Ballad of Dwight Fry”. A henchman waves Alice’s head around the stage, before he comes back on, to the graveyard of the Hollywood vampires. Four covers ensue, including “Break on Through”, “Cold Turkey”, “Manic Depression” and “My Generation”, dedicated to his dead rock-star friends, as their gravestones appear one by one on the stage.
“Eighteen” and “Poison” finish off a great show, with Alice speaking to the crowd for the first and only time to introduce the great band. With streamers, ticker-tape and fireworks emitting from the stage, the band leave the audience wanting more.
“School’s Out” is the encore, with Mike Monroe getting up to sing along, before slipping in to “Another Brick in the Wall” as the song ends. The crowd leave happy, having had a great night with Alice.
An amazing set, full of hits, and full of the Alice Cooper theatrics we expect, know and love. Happy Halloween!
Photos by R-O-C-K Photography