Tag Archive: Alice Cooper

Alice Cooper + Ugly Kid Joe + Duff McKagan’s Loaded @Wolverhampton Civic Hall 25th October 2012

Review for Gig Junkies. Pictures: Bianca Barrett.

It’s All Hallows Eve (well nearly), the festival of the dead, and the rock god of shock horror macabre theatrics, Alice Cooper is in Wolves with his annual Hallowe’en Night of Fear tour. Promo says to dress up – so the audience should feature a few outrageous costumes, as there will be cash prizes for the winners!

And in support, kinda bizarrely, we have Duff McKagan’s Loaded and returning 80s Californian rock n’ roll surfers Ugly Kid Joe. Tonight doors at Wolves Civic are opened half and hour earlier to fit in all three acts with decently long sets.

I arrive as Duff McKagan’s Loaded are giving it some, rock wise, so to speak. Loaded are former Gunner and Velvet Revolver axe merchant McKagan, Mike Squires on lead guitar, Jeff Rouse on bass, Isaac Carpenter on drumming duties. Performing energetic punk rock, to a surprisingly full Civic, even though it’s just before 7.30pm. “I thought this was Wolverhampton not fuckin’ Birmingham…” as McKagan encourages a response from the crowd. Final song of the set the GnR classic: ‘It’s So Easy’. It’s got far more bass than the original (as you would expect from the former GnR bassist), it suits Loaded to play this – all full of attitude. “We are from Seattle, we will be back…we are Loaded.” A suitably good response, from a suitably good performance – they’re off after a 40 minute set.

Next up Ugly Kid Joe. They split in ’97 only to re-emerge in 2011. With new EP ‘Stairway to Hell’ released June 2012, they played a few festivals across Europe this year including Download. UKJ are Whitfield Crane on vocals, Klaus Eichstadt and Dave Fortman on guitar, Cordell Crockett on bass and drummer Shannon Larkin.

Now I may have seen then in their previous life – its vague I can’t quite remember. And I have to admit, I’m not quite sure what to expect. As the lights go down- the crowd scream – I’m guessing that’s for the vaguely good looking Crane. He’s dressed as I guess you would expect, in baggy three quarter surfer shorts, t-shirt, knee high socks and baseball cap on back to front.  He does the rock horns, the crowd cheer and give the horns back! He’s already winding them up –  live UKJ are far more rocky and slightly more screamy than their commercial hits and first song is reminiscent of the Crue’s ‘Dr Feelgood.’   Next up, I know the words to this, ‘Neighbourhood’ and I realise that somewhere on my shelves at home, I brought this CD!

Crane’s voice is still on song, ripping and shredding and screaming. He gets the crowd to “woohooo”, as he bows. “It’s real good to be here … how you all feeling? New song at end of set – jump when you see me jump.” After banter, singing away, Crane’s climbing up to the balcony, which is pretty high here at the Civic. He takes photo with someone’s phone – “Put your hands in the air and scream” He’s walking round the balcony (another reviewer here tonight gets to touch him, apparently he’s very sweaty but very muscular!) He walks right round the edge of the balcony; people stand to let him by and he sits on balcony edge of the opposite side to compete the song.

I have to say, I’m suitably surprised, he’s great with the crowd – he has everyone in the palm of his hand – like a maestro conducting an orchestra. “Everybody scream for me…..”  “aaaahhhh….” come the response. “How you doing motherf*****ers? Crane jumps and the audience jump!

Crane: “You guys are awesome…. twenty years… grateful to be standing here…fifteen years since we played here – this one is for everyone here…” And everyone sings along, come on readers you know the words “Cats in the Cradle….” Hands wave from side to side – this is a great feel-good factor gig! Puts a big grin on your face on a cold autumnal evening.

He’s still going – speaks to audience member Peter, “Say hi to Pete” – “Hi Pete” responds the audience. “Walk up towards me five steps – everyone…that’s all of you…I want to see you…. Everybody on the floor jump!” And they do, it’s UKJ’s new song!

Then it’s the final sing of their set – another one to sing along to: “Everything about you.” The last line is spoken on the song, the crowd: “Everything about…..” Crane stops us, and counts us in to the last word – hands in the air – “You!” Wowsers – I have to say, tonight, Ugly Kid Joe, your totally rocked Wolves Civic.

So to a break – and to catch our breath in preparation for Alice’s arrival.

The crowd is quite a mixture – the rockers, a lot of them enjoyed Duff. Then we have peeps of a slightly older age, clearly into Alice in his hey-day. And there is a few younger ones – come to check out the shock horror that is Cooper, and some little people. I’ve always been amazed at the numbers of small kids that frequent Alice Cooper gigs, given that they are, in general, pretty bloodthirsty.

And then we have the ones who have gone to town in fancy dress – from faked up Goth, to blood splattered faces. Oh and a devil. Horns included. And a witch. And a white zombie blood soaked man. Man with creepy baby on shoulder (not a real one I hasten to add).

As we wait for Alice we have the competition for fancy ghoulish dress – several individuals on stage for which the audience vote for by the loudest cheer. The Mad Jester just about defeats the Shining Twins into second place.

And the lights drop; the stage is a backdrop with a canopy where two red eyes beam down onto the crowd below. To ‘The Underture’ we have a curtain of fireworks right across the stage (I bet the Civics’ health & safety team took a sharp intake of breath) and through the veil of fireworks Alice appears, in full garb, red and black-stripped jacket and full war paint.

The set and the band are typically over the top. Alice’s band doesn’t just feature one, or two, but a trio of guitarists – Orianthi, Ryan Roxie and Tommy Henricksen plus bassist Chuck Garric and drummer Glen Sobel, with a kit Tommy Lee would be proud of. (Although they are visually very reminiscent of 80s rock glam rockers Cinderella). Tonight’s set will feature the old and classic, plus songs from his latest album ‘Welcome 2 My Nightmare’ – and a few cover versions.

‘Hello Hurray!’ Alice is pacing the stage, baton in hand, twirling it round and around. Tonight he is the ringmeister. Into ‘House of Fire’ – Alice is master of this genre, he slaps his baton on his legs and he is the one in command. He poses, in classic Alice pose – the crowd cheer.  Jacket off – now he’s ‘No More Mr. Nice Guy.’

And if you were thinking of a title of a song, in true Alice style – next up we have ‘I’ll Bite Your Face Off.’ As you do. Okay we’ve had fireworks, you and your band are truly professional, tight, amazing, your voice is still menacing – where’s the blood? Now I don’t usually ask such a question at a gig, it is indeed, something in general I do not want to see. But this is Alice. I’ve seen you before, ripping heads of teddy bears and guts spewing everywhere; decapitations, guillotines, a 101 ways to kill yourself on stage…..

‘Billion Dollar Babies’ – the trio of guitarists open this track up phenomenally well. Alice is back, studded jacket on. He’s got a sword, stabbed onto it are dollar notes, as he sings he struts the stage, shaking the notes off over the audience. Maybe he’ll stab a guitarist? Decapitate one? Er. No. Clearly tonight’s set is ‘straight’ Alice, less theatrics, not quite as gruesome. In saying that, Vincent Furnier himself, is totally ensconced in being Alice – and it’s a great theatrical performance.

“Hey….Hey…Hey… Hey…” ‘Hey Stoopid’ goes down well. ‘Dirty Diamonds’ he’s chucking diamond necklaces into the audience, and we have a bloody….. erm, drum solo, then the bassist, then the guitarists – clearly a musical interlude for Alice to catch his breath.

Light’s flicker, thunder comes through the speakers, a single spotlight is on Alice. ‘Welcome to my Nightmare’ – he makes Freddie Kruger look soft and cuddly. He scowls his way through the track, two minions appear and tie him into a straight jacket, from which he dutifully escapes by the end of the song. ‘The Man Behind The Mask’: a fake paparazzi cameraman gets escorted off the stage. By Frankenstein

Alice is indeed class. He’s been doing this so long, he knows how to deliver it to exact perfection. And blows all those wannabes off stage. If you’ve not seen him, he’s well worth it, not doubt next Hallowe’en he will rise and appear to scare us once more. I had to leave before the end of the gig (it wasn’t local gig for me, train beckoned), so there may have been more theatrics at the end. It’s Alice and my expectation was for blood, guts and gore, especially at Halowe’en…

But all in all, what a cracking night! Great venue (if you’ve never visited Wolves Civic for a gig before, it is indeed, one of the best live venues in the Midlands). And for 36 nicker, this Halowe’en, Duff got us Loaded, Ugly Kid Joe were a revelation, and as for Alice, you didn’t have to ask him what was the matter. He’d have ‘bitten your face off.’