Twisted Sister & Alice Cooper rock the M.E.N....

Alice Cooper - Dirty DiamondsAlice Cooper
Dirty Diamonds

I arrived at the M.E.N. expecting to see vast hordes of people queuing on the steps, like they were back in February for Rammstein, but as it was an all-seater show there was no need to get there early to get to the front. I’d read in Kerrang! magazine that Viking Skull, who were going to be the first band on the bill, were kicked off before the U.K. tour started. According to the news article Twisted Sister wanted the same playing time as Alice Cooper. But who was the headliner and who was the support act? Who has been making albums since the seventies and who split up years ago then decided to jump on the reunion bandwagon with Motley Crue? Anyway, 7:00pm was supposed to be show-time but the place was only about a quarter full. Of course it’s always interesting seeing what kind of people show-up at concerts. There must have been the full age range at this show. I’ve never seen so many people with grey hair, bald patches and beer guts… and the men weren’t in the greatest shape either. It’s the only concert that I’ve been to this year where I’ve felt quite young!

The lights went out and the intro tape of AC/DC’s It’s A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘N’ Roll) started to play. Twisted Sister then took to the stage and… no one stood up. I had seen bands at the Apollo in Manchester, which was all-seated then, and as soon as the lights went out everyone stood up and started cheering. Even halfway through the first song the great majority of people were still sat down, including me. Just before the guitar solo Dee Snider, the singer, disappeared behind a curtain at the right of the stage. I honestly thought that he’d thrown a strop and that he wasn’t going to come back until the audience were on their feet. But, then this is the job of the SUPPORT ACT to warm the crowd up before the main event. He came back on in time for the last chorus. But he kept on doing this little disappearing act all through the show. I can only think that with the amount of running around that he was doing, and singing as well, he was having to breathe oxygen from at tank at the back of the stage.

All the way through their set Dee was taking the mickey out of, most of the people, in the block of seats at the front. As he was ranting I kept thinking, “Who does he sound like?”. Henry Rollins? No. Bill Hicks? No. Then I figured out who it was. He has the same kind of spoken delivery as Denis Leary! Maybe they’re both from the same part of New York?

They played really well and rolled out all the hits and don’t take themselves too seriously. Dee even managed to get everyone on their feet by the end of their set, even though he possibly busted a few blood vessels doing it.

I remember being a Twisted Sister fan back when I am (I’m me) was a big hit. I bought the 12 inch single, then the You Can’t Stop Rock and Roll and Under The Blade albums. But I’ve been a fan of Alice Cooper for much longer. I was a KISS fanatic during my school days, and had collected all their albums, on vinyl naturally, and was looking for another band to listen to. School’s Out had been a big hit back in 1977 and I had always flicked through all the Alice Cooper records at the record stores in town. One day I took the plunge and bought Alice Coopers Greatest Hits, the one with them all dressed as gangsters on the cover. I can’t honestly say that I immediately fell in love with it. It just didn’t seem to click with me, even thought I played it quite a bit. The next Alice Cooper album that I purchased was the turning point… From The Inside. I thought the cover looked great, even through the plastic sleeve in the store. When I listened to it at home I just thought that it was brilliant. The songs were incredible and the artwork and the sleeve design were just a joy to behold. To this day it is still an album that I can sing along to from start to finish. Since then I’ve collected videos, DVDs and CDs but only really as far back as Welcome to my Nightmare.

Set List
Department Of Youth
No More Mr Nice Guy
Dirty Diamonds
Billion Dollar Babies
Be My Lover
Lost In America
I Never Cry
Woman Of Mass Destraction
I'm Eighteen
Between High School & Old School
Sunset Babies (All Got Rabies)
Is It My Body
Go To Hell
Black Widow
Eric Singer Drum Solo
Gimme
Feed My Frankenstein
Welcome To My Nightmare
Steven Intro
Only Women Bleed - Steven Outro
Ballad Of Dwight Fry
Desperado / I Love The Dead
School's Out
Encore
Poison
I Wish I Was Born In Beverly Hills
Under My Wheels

The lights went out and everyone finally managed to get to their feet before the stage lights came on. Alice appeared next to the drum set wearing a long black coat and twirling a cane. He wandered down the steps and sang the first couple of songs from the edge of the stage whipping his cane over the heads of the crowd. All the songs seemed to whizz by in a blur. Old classics and new songs from the latest album. Even when I found the set-list on the internet I couldn’t believe that they played so many songs.

All the usual theatrical devices were in evidence and a few new ones. Alice threw diamond necklaces into the audience during Dirty Diamonds; used a sword spiked with money during Billion Dollar Babies; and sang with a snake during… well I can’t quite recall the song as I was too busy watching the snake. It must have been well over six feet long, possibly a Burmese Python. I always thought that he could never use a snake during shows in England because of some RSPCA rule or regulation.

Much as I like Eric Singer as a drummer, having played in both Badlands and KISS, I can’t help feeling that the time would have been better spent with another song. It did give some members of the audience a chance to rest their artificial hips and also give the band themselves a chance to change.

Alice put on a Boris Karloff t-shirt for the song Feed My Frankenstein and assembled his very own monster from body parts littered about the stage. Well, all except a head. Calico Cooper, his daughter as if you hadn’t guessed, was killed by Alice during Only Women Bleed. But, like all morality plays, Alice must be punished and is secured, for his own safety you understand, in a strait-jacket and sings the Ballad of Dwight Fry. He manages to escape but is caught again.

“Should we burn him?”. “No!”. “Should we hang him?”. “No!”. “Should we introduce him to Madam Guillotine?”. “Yes!”.

Alice is placed in the guillotine and his own flesh and blood, Calico, lets go of the rope and the blade comes slicing down. She then lifts the head out of the basket, by the hair, and parades around the stage with it before adding it to the collection of body parts to complete the monster. The lights go out, there’s a flash of light and a crackle of electricity and Alice, resplendent in white tails and top hat, appears where the monster once was.

The highlight of the show for me was of course I Wish I Was Born In Beverly Hills with Calico, who seemed to be parodying Britney, but I have since found out that it was Paris Hilton, complete with a stuffed toy dog in a bag.

It was a great show but, maybe it’s my age, it was very loud. So much so that Alice’s vocals were quite distorted. Maybe that’s the price you pay for playing such a large venue. I had a wonderful time. It was great to see Alice in the flesh, so to speak, even though he didn’t play one of my favourite songs of all time… Cold Ethyl.

  • Posted on Thursday, 10 November 2005
  • Tagged with gigs music