Live Review: Alice Cooper at Leeds Arena [1st June 2022]

By June 3, 2022 Leeds, Live, News, Reviews

Alice Cooper’s ‘Nightmare Castle’ UK Tour Ends In Leeds

Words and Photos by John Hayhurst

Alice Cooper now 74 but still the official Godfather of Shock Rock hits the stage promptly and gives us a 90 minute roller-coaster ride of the most full-on high-octane pantomime metal. Billed as “Alice Cooper’s Nightmare Castle”, the slapstick visual feast is camper than the Rocky Horror Picture Show but twice as fun.

The concert begins with metal-masked stage hands removing the curtain to reveal a two-story brick façade back-drop—essentially a mini-castle with skeleton accoutrements. Smoke spewed at floor level as Alice Cooper walked on stage holding a cane, sporting a top hat, and buccaneer-style garb. Cooper has more props than a high profile west-end musical; for a start there is a 15 foot tall Frankenstein monster roaming around the stage for opener ‘Feed My Frankenstein’.

From the straight-jacket during ‘Steven’, the guillotine in ‘I Love the Dead’, the breaking out of the coffin during ‘Escape’, to the giant inflatable walking baby in ‘Billion Dollar Babies’, the concert is a tongue-in-cheek rock & roll horror show, perfectly scripted and performed as ‘entertainment’ rather than a trad concert, and the fans here lap it all up, like they have been doing for the last 45 years.

In what seemed like a rock opera of classic hits, Cooper displayed thespian agility as he raised the mic stand, swung a riding crop, sword, or pointed at the audience with his cane. The people in the seats at the front stood to attention throughout the concert, pounding fists in the air, and mouthing the lyrics to each favorite like ‘Eighteen, ‘Under My Wheels’, and ‘No More Mr Nice Guy’. With no banter between the songs, each one segued into another, as fluid as a rock opera.

The 19 track set spans his entire career but it’s probably his 1989 hit Poison that gets the biggest reaction of the night. Cooper’s voice holds up well throughout and the backing band consisting of drummer (Glen Sobel) plus four guitarists (Ryan Roxie, Nita Strauss, Chuck Garrick and Tommy Henriksen) are polished and tight. The guitarists’ synchronised head-banging is a spectacle in itself and a massive shout out has to go to lead guitarist Nita Strauss who displayed her virtuosity on electric guitar throughout and fills the stage with her demonic shredding riffs and gymnastic moves. There are plenty of instrumental solos (including a short drum solo – yawn), proving again, that Cooper has the best musicians from both a technical and theatrical standpoint. This also cleverly allowing for numerous costume changes, and for Cooper to take a break.

‘School’s Out’ brings the night to a close and enormous bouncing balloons are released to mark the band’s departure, with Cooper using his sword to pierce any within range. As he approaches his mid 70’s Cooper shows no sign of slowing down and I fully expect him to be back here in another couple of years, and I’ll be there in a heartbeat too!

Alice Cooper Setlist:

  • Feed My Frankenstein

  • No More Mr Nice Guy

  • Bed of Nails

  • Hey Stoopid

  • Fallen in Love

  • Be My Lover

  • Go Man Go

  • Under My Wheels

  • Roses on White Lace

  • I’m Eighteen

  • Poison

  • Billion Dollar Babies

  • Black Widow Jam

  • Steven

  • Dead Babies

  • I Love the Dead

  • Escape

  • Teenage Frankenstein

Encore:

  • Schools Out

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