Alice Cooper brings pure rock theatre to Brighton

Posted On 09 Oct 2019 at 3:45 pm

Alice Cooper live at the Brighton Centre 08.10.19 (pic Cris Watkins Photography/PunkInFocus) (click on pic to enlarge!)

ALICE COOPER + THE STRANGLERS + MC50 – BRIGHTON CENTRE 08.10.19

The wayward son from Detroit, Alice Cooper was back in Brighton tonight as part of a select seven date ‘Ol Black Eyes Is Back’ UK tour, which has already called in at Manchester, Aberdeen and Leeds, before heading off to London, Birmingham and Cardiff.

Alice, (born Vincent Damon Furnier) is now 71 years young, has rightfully returned with his band of well versed musicians to the country that first embraced him, in the 50th year since the first Alice Cooper album release, namely ‘Pretties For You’, which hit an unsuspecting world back on 25th June 1969.

Alice is always the showman and the dearly beloved fans gathered here tonight to witness his all-new show were certainly not left disappointed! Considered by some as the greatest ringmaster in rock and deliverer of the best rock show in the world, Brighton music punters were certainly not going on their journey home in silence as there would be much to discuss about the evening’s portrayal of dark humour – what about this bit, what about that bit, did you see that etc etc.

Alice Cooper live at the Brighton Centre 08.10.19 (pics Cris Watkins Photography/PunkInFocus) (click on pics to enlarge!)

Alice surrounds himself with some of the most talented musicians on the planet and so indeed there was some degree of showmanship (or just plain showing off) by all and sundry gathered at certain points during the evening. The Alice Cooper shows are a well oiled machine and everything is so carefully choreographed with nothing really left to chance. But I suppose when you are dealing with (stage-prop) guillotines and a giant ‘Billion Dollar Baby’ to name just two props, then everything must be just so. Even the two bassists and two guitarists can wander freely around the stage as they have no leads plugged in. I suspect that a certain ballerina instructor and choreographer Sheryl Goddard, might have had a hand in this.

The quintet of musicians gathered here tonight in front of the Nightmare Castle backdrop who were offering their theatrical brand of hard rock were Glen Sobel who is consistently voted the world’s best rock drummer (no wonder by the way he was twiddling his stix tonight); Nita Strauss on lead and rhythm guitar (who was gifted her own guitar solo slot and showed us exactly why); Ryan Roxie (lead and rhythm guitar); Tommy Henriksen (rhythm and lead guitar); Chris Wyse (on bass, who is filling in for Chuck Garric on these UK shows); and special guest on the final number Dennis Dunaway (who was the original Alice Cooper band bass player).

The Brighton Centre was witness to Alice’s blend of horror film and vaudeville rock for around two hours and it was at time just like witnessing a play with loud music. Ever the showman, he indulged in several (expected) costume changes and even donning a straight-jacket for a majority of the unsettling track ‘Steven’ from the 1975 ‘Welcome to My Nightmare’ album. A number of compositions were lifted from his groundbreaking 1971 to 1975 era, these included Under My Wheels, ‘Billion Dollar Babies’, No More Mr Nice Guy and final number School’s Out’, where they unleashed several giant balloons filled with silver streamers (which many folk were still wearing on exiting the venue!).

Surprisingly for me there was no renditions of ‘Elected’ or ‘Only Women Bleed’, but I guess with a career spanning 55 years, then somethings gotta give musically.

Alice Cooper setlist:
‘Years Ago’ (intro tape) (found on 1975 ‘Welcome To My Nightmare’ album)
‘Nightmare Castle’ (intro tape)
‘Feed My Frankenstein’ (found on 1991 ‘Hey Stoopid’ album)
‘No More Mr. Nice Guy’ (found on 1973 ‘Billion Dollar Babies’ album)
‘Bed Of Nails’ (found on 1989 ‘Trash’ album)
‘Raped And Freezin’’ (found on 1973 ‘Billion Dollar Babies’ album)
‘Fallen In Love’ (found on 2017 ‘Paranormal’ album)
‘Muscle Of Love’ (found on 1973 ‘Muscle Of Love’ album)
‘He’s Back (The Man Behind The Mask)’ (found on 1986 ‘Constrictor’ album)
‘I’m Eighteen’ (found on 1971 ‘Love It To Death’ album)
‘Billion Dollar Babies’ (found on 1973 ‘Billion Dollar Babies’ album)
‘Poison’ (found on 1989 ‘Trash’ album)
“Guitar Solo” (Nita Strauss)
‘Roses On White Lace’ (found on 1987 ‘Raise Your Fist And Yell’ album)
‘My Stars’ (found on 1972 ‘School’s Out’ album)
‘Devil’s Food’ (band only jam) (found on 1975 ‘Welcome To My Nightmare’ album)
‘Black Widow Jam’ (with ‘Black Juju’ drum solo) (found on 1975 ‘Welcome To My Nightmare’ album + found on 1971 ‘Love It To Death’ album)
‘Steven’ (found on 1975 ‘Welcome To My Nightmare’ album)
‘Dead Babies’ (found on 1971 ‘Killer’ album)
‘I Love The Dead’ (found on 1973 ‘Billion Dollar Babies’ album)
‘Escape’ (found on 1975 ‘Welcome To My Nightmare’ album)
‘Teenage Frankenstein’ (found on 1986 ‘Constrictor’ album)
(encore)
‘Under My Wheels’ (found on 1971 ‘Killer’ album)
‘School’s Out’ (with ‘Another Brick In The Wall’ lyric and ‘Sunshine Of Your Love’ ending dedicated to Ginger Baker) (found on 1972 ‘School’s Out’ album)

More on Alice Cooper HERE.

The Stranglers live at the Brighton Centre 08.10.19 (pics Cris Watkins Photography/PunkInFocus) (click on pics to enlarge!)

At 7:59pm the‘Waltz In Black’ intro tape starts to play and ‘The Men In Black’ have arrived to perform a cracking 51 minute eleven song set – yes it’s The Stranglers.

The quartet are back in Brighton as main support for Alice Cooper, having recently performed a great set at the Brighton Dome on 26th March this year – read our review HERE.

I was rather pleased that Alice had got The Stranglers on the bill, as it would almost feel like a double-bill to me. These days The Stranglers personnel are founder members Jean-Jacques Burnel on bass and Brighton born Dave Greenfield on keyboards along with Jim Macaulay (formerly touring drummer and now a fully fledged Strangler) and ‘new boy’ vocalist Barry “Baz” Warne. Well our Sunderland born ex-Toy Doll friend likes a ‘bita banta’ and he’s only been in The Stranglers for 19 years – lightweight!

These days the groups vocal duties are roughly equally shared by Baz and ‘JJ’ and tonight is certainly no exception. The band’s set went down a treat with the fans and you would (at that stage in proceedings) think that they were the headline act by the way they were being applauded. Thankfully we had three tracks from 1977, and four from 1978, so seven early numbers from their 11 track set. Highlights being Greenfield’s meaty keyboard work on the intro of ‘5 Minutes’ accompanied by JJ’s vocals, which were also rather enjoyable on ‘Freedom Is Insane’; ‘Relentless’ from 2006 which does somehow remind me of Ultravox; JJ banging his bass at the start of ‘No More Heroes’ to arguably create the loudest noise all evening; and finally they absolutely nailed ‘Walk On By’. 8:50pm and it was all over.

The Stranglers setlist:
‘Waltz In Black’ (intro tape) (found on 1981 ‘The Gospel According To The Meninblack’ album)
‘Toiler On The Sea’ (found on 1978 ‘Black And White’ album)
‘(Get A) Grip (On Yourself)’ (found on 1977 ‘Rattus Norvegicus’ album)
‘Nice ‘n’ Sleazy’ (found on 1978 ‘Black And White’ album)
‘5 Minutes’ (found on 1978 ‘5 Minutes’ single and 1986 ‘Off The Beaten Track’ compilation album)
‘Golden Brown’ (found on 1981 ‘La Folie’ album)
‘Peaches’ (found on 1977 ‘Rattus Norvegicus’ album)
‘Freedom Is Insane’ (found on 2012 ‘Giants’ album)
‘Walk On By’ (Dionne Warwick cover) (found on limited free 7” white vinyl single with 1978 ‘Black And White’ album and 2001 CD version, plus 1982 ‘The Collection 1977–1982’ compilation album)
‘Relentless’ (found on 2006 ‘Suite XVI’ album)
‘Hanging Around’ (found on 1977 ‘Rattus Norvegicus’ album)
‘No More Heroes’ (found on 1977 ‘No More Heroes’ album)

For further info on The Stranglers, visit www.thestranglers.co.uk

MC50 live at the Brighton Centre 08.10.19 (pics Cris Watkins Photography/PunkInFocus) (click on pics to enlarge!)

The evening was kicked off at 6:56pm when the MC50 took to the large stage in order to perform a 46 minute nine song set of MC5 (Motor City 5 – a Detroit reference) numbers. The quintet are headed by the original MC5 guitarist frontman Wayne Kramer and is his celebration of 50 years of the MC5’sKick Out The Jams, album as well as other material from that time.

Kramer has assembled a new line-up featuring the Joey Ramone-esque 6ft 7” vocalist Marcus Durant (formerly of Zen Guerrilla), Faith No More’s bassist Billy Gould, Soundgarden’s guitarist, Kim Thayil, and Fugazi’s drummer Brendan Canty.

The MC5 (who formed in 1964) and Alice Cooper have history. Alice was a Detroit native and returned there in 1970 to make his name in the city while The MC5, The Stooges and Bob Seger, among others, were tearing up the city. Harder, faster, stronger and darker than the hippies on the west coast, they changed music forever.

Tonight, the MC50’s raw heavy R’n’B fuzzy rock certainly got the packed crowd in the right frame of mind. It was great to finally see ‘Kick Out The Jams’ live, especially the intro which has been much sampled down the years by The KLF, Scooter and the likes. ‘I Can Only Give You Everything’ I particularly enjoyed because of its retro mid-60’s guitarwork sound (a tad Rolling Stones me thinks), but I reckon their finale ‘Looking At You’ was the best, as I have spent decades listening to The Damned’s version.

MC50 setlist:
(Intro tape)
‘Ramblin’ Rose’ (found on 1969 ‘Kick Out The Jams’ MC5 album)
‘Kick Out The Jams’ (found on 1969 ‘Kick Out The Jams’ MC5 album)
‘Come Together’ (found on 1969 ‘Kick Out The Jams’ MC5 album)
‘Motor City Is Burning’ (found on 1969 ‘Kick Out The Jams’ MC5 album)
‘Borderline’ (found on 1969 ‘Kick Out The Jams’ MC5 album)
‘I Can Only Give You Everything’ (debut single from 1966 & found on 1983 ‘Babes In Arms’ compilation album)
‘Sister Anne’ (found on 1971 ‘High Time’ MC5 album)
‘Call Me Animal’ (found on 1970 ‘Back In The USA’ MC5 album)
‘Looking At You’ (found on 1970 ‘Back In The USA’ MC5 album)

For further details head to www.mc50th.com

Right then, that’s written. I’m off to play ‘Alice Cooper’s Nightmare Castle’ pinball game…..

Gig ticket and photo pass

Gig flyer

Alice Cooper band live at the Brighton Centre 08.10.19 (pics Cris Watkins Photography/PunkInFocus) (click on pics to enlarge!)

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