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ALICE COOPER @ RAC Arena gets 7.5/10

Alice Cooper @ RAC Arena

w/ Airbourne, MC50
Saturday, February 8, 2020


Perth was treated to two Detroit legends Saturday night in the guise of The Shock-Father Alice Cooper and psychedelic rabble-rouser Wayne Kramer and his MC50. Sandwiched between the two were East Coast bogans Airbourne.

MC50 | Photo by Damien Crocker

MC50 kicked things off, that is Wayne Kramer of the legendary MC5 joined by Kim Thayil of Soundgarden fame on rhythm guitar, Brendan Canty (Fugazi) on drums, the one and only Billy Gould (Faith No More) on bass and Marcus Durant (Zen Guerilla) on vocals. Coming onstage to the intro of their seminal live album Kick Out The Jams, former manager and counterculture poet John Sinclair’s voice implored us to decide to be part of the problem or part of the solution. It’s an idea that seems both naff outside of the 60s ideals of revolution, yet also fitting given the problems we as a nation and world face. The band launched straight into Ramblin’ Rose with Kramer taking lead vocal duties.

MC50 | Photo by Damien Crocker

Kick Out The Jams followed with Kramer stepping away from the mic to give up vox to Durant. Oozing New York cool, he clapped, knee jerked and swung his big haired, sunglass clad head through the classic, whilst Kramer’s guitar wailed in the solos. And so the set continued that way. The rhythm section keeping things tight, whilst Kramer kept his solos loose. Motor City’s Burning was a highlight, allowing Durant’s soulful voice to shine and offering a slight reprieve from the relentless energy of the rest of the set.

Five songs in and Kramer announced that they had one song left, correctly stating how criminally short their set was. Although their show would have been better suited to a more intimate venue, MC50 rocked hard and seemed to win over those who arrived early enough to catch their set.

Airbourne | Photo by Damien Crocker

Next up were Warrnambool boys Airbourne. Bounding on stage to a backdrop of Marshall stacks and a vintage Boxing Kangaroo esky they launched into Ready To Rock serving coordinated, cock rock moves, exaggerated solos and classic metal lyrics about thunder and the devil. They were all 80s hair machismo without the excess, plucking water from the willow as opposed to swigging jacks.

Girls in Black was a standout, seeing Joel O’Keefe run bare-chested to the audience and play his guitar over the barrier as women in black head-banged and fist pumped. Joel asked if any of us were from Kalgoorlie or Freo, mentioning they hadn’t been here for 15 years and hyping the crowd for Alice Cooper in a speech laden with more ‘motherfuckers’ than a Samuel L Jackson scene. Given the crowd response and the amount of Airbourne shirts in the Arena we wouldn’t be surprised to see the band on the West Coast again soon.

Alice Cooper

A curtain was draped in front of the stage and the image of Ol’ Black Eyes stared out as anticipation was building. The creepy jangle of Years Ago signalled the start of the show with Alice Cooper announcing “Welcome to my Nightmare Castle”. The curtain dropped and the band launched into Feed My Frankenstein. Alice stepped out and delivered the goods theatrically, with an oversized Frankenstein, but sounded a bit shakey vocally. Thankfully that changed with No More Mr. Nice Guy, Cooper sounding on point and the crowd helping him through the chorus with much enthusiasm.

Barely taking a break, the band moved through the hits with the crowd eating it all up. The theatrics started with He’s Back (The Man Behind The Mask), taking a modern day approach with women posing and taking selfies on the Nightmare Castle before one was killed by a Freddy type character. This kicked off a killer bracket that moved through I’m Eighteen, Billion Dollar Babies and finishing with the classic metal hit, Poison.

Alice Cooper & Nita Strauss

Gun guitarist Nita Strauss then featured for a blistering solo. Apart from Alice, Strauss was the star of the show. Running around the stage throughout, shredding and pulling rock moves, and adding a powerful female presence to a show that can sometimes see women portrayed as victims. Alice and the band returned for Roses on White Lace, with Nita fittingly catching the brides bouquet. My Stars followed, the two songs surprising choices given they’ve not appeared live for decades.

Alice Cooper

The theatrics continued, Madame Guillotine making an appearance with baby Steven and Alice receiving his nightly decapitation followed by his head being paraded around by a giant inflatable baby, who’d previously busted out of the Nightmare Castle. The main set wrapped with Frankenstein making one more appearance, his chains draped over Alice for Young Frankenstein.

Alice Cooper

After a few minutes the band came back for an encore of Department of Youth, which had the audience singing “We have the power”, ironic given that many in the crowd would have been carrying senior citizen cards. The set finished with School’s Out, with a diversion into Another Brick In The Wall pt. 2 mid song. Oversized balloons filled with confetti bounced around the audience, getting popped by Alice whenever they approached his realm.

A celebratory ending to a masterclass in performance, at 72 and with many decades in the game, Alice may no longer shock, but proved he can still captivate an audience and put on a great show.


Photos by Paul Dowd

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