Gallery By Tracie Tee
Gallery By Tracie Tee
The queue to get in the door went two blocks, which was hardly surprising when you consider the caliber of the rock legends who were hitting that stage at the Tivoli on Saturday night. The KISS Army were here in full regalia, with shirts, tatts and even a bit of makeup in honour of their fandom. Heading inside, the crowd piled into any space they could, filling the venue to the rafts and beyond if that were possible. In the background, under the crowd ambiance, you could hear much of KISS’s contemporaries like Alice Cooper and AC/DC playing in the background.
The stage was lit in blue, house lights still on. The line to get in was still going causing the show to start a little late so everyone would have a better chance to enjoy the show together. But when it started, it felt sudden. Bells tolled, ringing in Ace “SpaceMan” Frehley onto the stage with the first track of the night, Parasite before playing into Hard Times with the audience clapping along.
Whilst he may not have donned the costume, there were nice references. Frehley sported a bedazzled NASA logo shirt (as a space nerd, I totally want one now) and a couple of his guitar straps were embezzled with metallic lightning bolts. Speaking to the audience about the tour, Frehley said that the audiences in Sydney and Melbourne “were good, but you might top them tonight.” He then played into a cover of the Rolling Stones’ song, 2000 Man which any KISS fan would know from the album Dynasty.
Frehley also mentioned how much he liked the acoustics in older buildings like The Tivoli better than new ones, before performing Rock Soldiers and ripping into Rip It Out. The Spaceman’s guitarwork still as out of this world as ever. He asked the audience if anyone would like to go to Tokyo with him as that’s where he’s heading tomorrow, then performing Love Gun. Throughout his set, Frehley constantly threw out picks to the crowded dance floor, many reaching out to catch the small souvenirs.
In dedication to all the pretty girls he said he was seeing in the crowd tonight, he performed Rocket Ride and Strange Ways. In true theatrical KISS style, Frehley changed guitars to a rad light up guitar for New York Groove, audience singing along and pulling out smartphones to record the moment. Talking about how scary the world can be today, led into Shock Me. The band then left the stage for a few moments, letting the Spaceman shine with some wicked guitar riffs and a literally smoking guitar proving the metal that made him famous. Audience chanting “Ace” in praise of his God-given talent.
With the band returned to stage, Ace rounded out his set with the KISS anthems Detroit Rock City and Cold Gin as his absolutely thundering finish, exclaiming “Thanks and Gene will kick your ass so get ready!”
Intermission time to grab some cold ones and chat with other fellow KISS fans. It’s one of the most passionate band fandoms you’ll ever come across and also quite friendly. I had a few chatting with me sharing great stories of gigs past, reminding you of how great this band’s legacy has resonated in so many peoples’ lives.
House lights cut off, dramatic orchestral violins overture building up. Gene Simmons walked on with the band (the same that performed with Frehley in his set) accompanied by crowd cheers. Breaking into Shout It Out Loud, audience going ballistic, shouting the words out loud before playing I. Simmons asked to turn on the house lights to see the people and asked to “give a hand to Ace”, not that we needed the encouragement coz he put on a great set. Frehley had apparently said to Gene backstage that the audience was rocking and that was an “absolute testament to you”. Jamming to Are You Ready but not before selling the Gene Simmons Vault in true Gene style. Simmons constantly joked throughout, even giving his own rendition of Mambo No 5 before breaking into Calling Dr. Love.
Much like Frehley, Simmons also dressed with a reference to his KISS alter-ego The Demon. His shirt black with silver studs along the shoulders, front and cuffs, although he was minus his sunglasses which he wears for most media interviews.
He asked the audience “whether it was fortune or fame? Money or personality?” but let’s face it we all know the real answer is Charisma. He asked about the colloquium “fair dinkum” before proposing a choice of “She’s So European” or “She’s So Australian”. Needless to say, She’s So Australian was the right choice and had a laugh with Simmons’ attempted Australian accent. After discussing whether there was a perfect age for a woman, performed Love Theme From Kiss along with Don’t Let Me Go.
Now for the time to start bringing on some special guests. The first of which, a chick (yes Gene, you can say “chick” I’m a chick and I’m saying it) called Chrissy from Tasmania who surprised all with her actually strong vocals on I Was Made For Lovin’ You while Simmons took to the back with his bass.
Bringing on more chicks (the VIPs that is) to sing along to Do You Love Me packed the stage. The VIPs attempting to selfie with Simmons and even to get some stuff signed. Simmons commenting, “If I only I weren’t gay” to the roar of laughter before introducing the band members Phil, Jeremy, Ryan and Christopher.
I should also take a moment too, to say how freaking amazing the band accompanying Simmons and Frehley really were. The boys all from Tennessee, rocked both sets tremendously and according to Simmons, “were all single for one night only”. They had the chops both vocally and instrumentally to match up well with Simmons and Frehley. They have the makings of Rock God status, which you would need to possess as a prerequisite, to accompany legendary Rock Gods like Simmons and Frehley.
Speaking of legends, Simmons surmised that he and KISS wouldn’t have been without legends like that of Chuck Berry and Little Richard, proving his point by performing Little Richard’s Long Tall Sally. He then moved on with Watching You and Radioactive.
It was time for some beef, a “sausage fest” as Simmons put it, with the VIP guys taking their turn on stage with I Love It Loud really getting into the spirit and probably have had a few spirits by this point. He headed into Plaster Caster before bringing his brother-in-arms Ace back on stage. Frehley taking the opportunity to thank Gene for inviting him to come along on this tour, celebrating the 40th anniversary of release of the KISS solo albums. Simmons telling the audience the story of the first time Paul Stanley and he had first heard Ace and how much they loved his sound, when he played the song, Deuce.
Heading to a big finish like only the kind these talented rock veterans can deliver, brought back all the VIPs on stage for a packed out finale of Rock’n’Roll All Nite with hands in the air, cold ones raised in the air in salute as Simmons announced that “KISS will come back in 2019!”
Review Contributed by Sarah Minazzo
Gallery Contributed By Tracie Tee
There are fewer names in today’s music world that hold as much weight as that of Gene Simmons.
Having a lifetime of success with the band KISS, which he co-founded in 1973, and has had continued success as a singer, record producer, TV personality, actor, and entrepreneur.
Fast forward over 40 years and he is still a name synonymous with not only the KISS franchise but a whole persona of his own.
In 1978 KISS made an unprecedented move of having all four members released solo albums on the same day. They were heavily marketed and had the same overall design which kept them under the KISS banner. In this, the 40th anniversary year of the solo albums it was an absolute delight to have Gene visit Australia once again, being supported by none other than one of his brothers in Ace Frehley.
The night was billed as being a blast from the past spectacular and from the opening note it certainly lived up to its expectations.
Opening proceedings for the night, Ace made his entry onto the stage and jumped head first into Parasite. The mostly older crowd was singing along, although in a much more subdued fashion than in yesteryear I’d imagine.
Pulling out some absolute classics such as Hard Times, 2000 Man, Rock Soldiers and Love Gun in typically Ace fashion, he made light of having to use a lead, as he usually is rigged up fully wirelessly.
Moving through favorites such as New York Groove and Shock Me before giving the crowd a taste of his guitar genius in a blistering solo run. Amongst the electric blue lights and smoke Ace cut a figure of a guitar legend impressing the very attentive crowd. He certainly has not lost that amazing talent at age 67. Closing his set with two of KISS monster tracks in Detroit Rock City and Cold Gin one could well be forgiven for feeling a little nostalgic.
A brief interval ensued and when the house lights went out the crowd let out an intense roar. Gene came forth on the stage, cutting a striking figure as he’s towering silhouette was bathed in light.
With a booming, “Good evening Melbourne!!” he and his band featuring bandmates Phil, Ryan, Jeremy and Christopher all from Nashville Tennessee, leapt straight into the dynamic Deuce followed by Shout It Out Loud.
With a bit of essential Gene humor, he gave a quick plug to the comprehensive collection called The Vault which is now available, before delivering Are You Ready.
What happened next was something I did not expect. Having spoken about the stage musical School of Rock, which will be playing in Melbourne in November, Gene then called up a 10-year-old boy named Zane to play guitar on stage with them during Calling Dr. Love. Not only was he as “rock and roll” as they come, but he played flawlessly, not missing a single note.
The crowd farewell Zane from the stage with a huge round of applause and Gene took the time to introduce the band and take some media photos.
Next up on the journey back through time, was Radioactive and one of my personal favs Charisma with Almost Human thrown in between.
After more comedic banter, Gene proceeds to introduce to the stage another performer from School of Rock named Amy, who would perform a red-hot rendition of I Was Made For Loving You. This young lady has some pipes on her!!! Next came what I am sure was a highlight for some female VIP fans, who were given the opportunity to get up on stage and sing Do You Love Me, with one young girl declaring her adoration for the rocker, probably old enough to be her father!!
I, Long Tall Sally, and Plaster Caster were in the next bracket, with way more fans knowing these songs than I had anticipated Especially as some rarely if ever have been played before.
Love Theme From KISS and War Machine followed before it was time to get the VIP guys on stage for their turn to sing along with I Love It Loud, and boy did it look like they were absolutely loving it.
Mixing up the lyrics to make it more location friendly, She’s So European soon became She’s So Australian and took on a whole new spin.
Next was Let Me Go Rock And Roll with Ace making a return to the stage, alongside his former bandmate. All of the VIP fans then got up together and joined by the band, and the whole crowd, belted out Rock And Roll All Nite, for a cracker of a finale to an amazing night. Gene made sure to say KISS would be back in 2019.
For someone like me who grew up with KISS as an ever-present icon in music, this was a night of most epic proportion. Churning out hit after hit in absolutely fine form, it was a real pleasure to watch. At ages is 67 and 69 respectively, Ace and Gene totally nailed it as they have for generations, and as I hope they continue to do for as long as possible.
Review Contributed by Jodi Maree
Gallery By Matt Allan
Not since Metallica’s ‘And Justice For All’ tour had I ventured into the Hordern Pavillion in Sydney, and prior to that it was only to purchase showbags at the Royal Easter Show as a young kid, back in the 70’s and long before the show moved to Homebush.
So, here I was at that historic venue to see both Alice Cooper and Ace Frehley for the first time, along with able support Strangers who originally hailed from Sydney, however now base themselves in Melbourne.
So it was rock outfit Strangers that kicked off proceedings which, given that it was only a very short set really only served as a warm up, although this band clearly are beginning to emerge as a force and well worth the effort to see them live when you can. Ben Britton’s vocals are very distinctive and a perfect blend with the other band members, particularly the always energetic guitarist Mark Barnes.
For mine it was the right amount of energy to begin the night. The band captured the attention of the already assembled crowd, and delivered a nice entrée to the main acts with their almost indie style of punchy and hard hitting rock, with plenty of very thought provoking lyrical content – be sure to catch them live, along with checking out their new album Mirrorland.
A relatively short break before Ace Frehley and band took to the stage – The Spaceman!
If you thought that the Strangers set was a warm up for the main acts, then Ace Frehley and band were clearly intent on really taking it up a notch and setting the tone for the rest of the entire show, because right from the first few songs it was evident that this was gonna be a kind of nostalgic run through the early KISS catalog, and you know that a lot of hand raising and singing from the crowd would ensue, and why not?!
Ace, both vocally and physically is in good shape, throw that in along with his guitar techniques and you have a performer that knows the business, and knows how to deliver the goods in big shows, and the crowd lapped it up.
Throughout the fifty or so minutes Ace and band tore through many KISS classics such as Hard Times, 2000 Man, Love Gun, Shock Me, and Detroit Rock City featuring that magnificent dual guitar harmony which gave me goosebumps, also thrown in were some of Ace’s most memorable solo songs such as New York Groove and Rip It Out.
To be honest there was not a lot of banter with the crowd, however it was seemingly not required as Ace and band instead chose to keep the momentum of the set pumping with one catchy and memorable groove after another – a real trip down memory lane of sorts, and I am super grateful to have been able to witness it – Ace Frehley still has what it takes, and he does not appear to be slowing down at all!
So here we are, the finale, the incomparable Alice Cooper!
There I was, in the photo pit along with many other photographers, in line with the center of the stage and staring up at the huge curtain adoring the Alice Cooper graphics with spiders and evil eye detailing, on the other side of that curtain was a show ready to loom larger than life!
The curtain falls and out strides Alice, cane in hand and heading for the platform centre stage, upon stepping onto the platform Alice extends his arms and is showered by sparks raining down from above – luckily we were pre-warned.
I am here to tell you that the noise coming from behind me was deafening, Alice Cooper was here, and this crowd was here to rock and be entertained as only Alice Cooper can!
Man, right from the start Alice was conducting his band with relative authority and clearly there was harmony and a flow and transition from one move and riff to another, perfectly in sync and capable of delivering real effect. The show was basically a large selection of old classics, with one track from the new album Paranormal being Paranoiac Personality, however the man has a huge catalog of material and you can’t have Alice Cooper shows without many of the classics.
And how about this damn band that Alice has assembled – three guitarists being Ryan Roxie, the raunchy Nita Strauss and Sydney native Tommy Henriksen, along with Chuck Garric on bass and Glen Sobel on drums – superb, these people can play!
We didn’t have to wait too long for classics such as Billion Dollar Babies, where Alice preceded to flick note currency into crowd from his cane, typical of an Alice Cooper show, you don’t just play that song – you throw currency into the crowd, unreal!
Department Of Youth was another classic, as well as Woman Of Destruction which featured some stunning guitar work by Nita Strauss, which led so beautifully into the opening riff of Poison – they worked that transition majestically and the crowd went berserk! I don’t know about you but that opening riff to Poison destroys me, it somehow gives me a chill every time I hear it, even better during a live show though eh?
You want more detail regarding the theatrical stuff? Well how about the transition from Alice being thrust into a machine which ultimately has a large electrical current exploding through it, to re-appearing as a, I’m gonna say six metre tall monster during Feed My Frankenstein which preceded to storm around the stage between performers – oh, and also the beheading of Alice by a guillotine during The Ballad Of Dwight Fry which was for me the standout song and theatrical performance of the night – the energy from both the band and crowd in those instances was breathtaking, simply bloody breathtaking!
Consistently throughout the show Alice would conduct the performers, often actually conducting the guitarists with his cane, as if he were some type of puppet master, because in many ways that is exactly what he is!
On and on the classics came, one after another, each accompanied by magnificently choreographed and performed theatrics and random guitar moves and grooves that helps to make Alice Cooper shows a rock/metal extravaganza filled with heavy riffs, interplay on stage and a real and honest salute to the old vaudeville era – I freakin’ love this stuff!
Other notables (the whole show was notable but you get the idea) were Cold Ethel where Alice dragged around a large doll on stage, and also I Love The Dead with those haunting verses, as well as I’m Eighteen and School’s Out which are both anthemic and obviously pumped the crowd, especially the latter with that magnificent trademark riff!
You know when you exit a music gig or even a movie theatre and you have been totally blown away by the performance, whether it was expected or not? Well that happened to me last night, and judging by the crowd’s reaction during the show, and also post show where I overheard several discussions about the way people felt about the performance, it would appear as though all were thoroughly entertained and gasping for breath, figuratively speaking.
Thank you Alice, thank you Ace and thank you Strangers for giving the punters a real experience – very real!
|Tue 24 Oct – Newcastle Entertainment Centre, NSW|
|Wed 25 Oct – Brisbane Entertainment Centre, QLD|
Review Contributed by Roger Brooks
GALLERY CONTRIBUTED BY ROGER BROOKS
The clothing is black…check, the t-shirt from a prior Vegas show is donned…check. Shortness of breath, thumping of heart and a little bit of wee coming out…check check CHECK. (Sorry about the last one but we wanted horror, right?) Ready to spend the night with Alice Cooper. Really Sheryl? Was he compelled to seek special permission to use that tour title?
Visual reminders adorned by crowd members remind that a good percentage of this vast horde are loyal Ace Frehley fans, here to watch the space man take flight. With significantly less regalia and fanfare than a headline gig, Ace and the band provide a solid performance more akin to casual mid tour sideline show than a stadium. This was entirely appropriate and afforded their performance a tremendously enjoyable and distinctly grass roots rock n roll atmosphere.
But then who wouldn’t sit wherever to enjoy the talents of performers like Chris Wyse, whose vocal ability needs no selling to fans of Owl, but to watch a man who has played with the likes of The Cult, Ozzy, Mick Jagger, and see the percussive prowess that earned those gigs is of special significance.
As is the opportunity to watch Scot Coogan, who has been a personal favourite kit killer of mine since 2004 when he took to the stool for Brides Of Destruction and, besides having played with a myriad of performers, is certainly well established with Ace, having first joined his band 10 years ago. To watch his skill tonight was very special to me personally, reminding me of previous shows in the on US soil and I sincerely hope he was appreciated by all present.
Richie Scarlet is extremely well known to Ace Frehley fans the world over and that tremendous lifetime of experience in providing the Ace show rhythm guitar, shone brightly tonight. The Emperor of Rock n Roll in Richie, not only rocked with Mountain for the better part of sixteen years, but was also part of the original Ace Frehley post Kiss plan, having been present for inception before Frehley’s Comet even had a name. Now as a partial glimpse at his vast experience and considering his contributions, its little wonder his string caresses prompt guitar to sing so very sweetly and if that sort of skill doesn’t thrill, I don’t know what will. Beautiful stuff Richie.
And so to Ace himself, and what really can be said that you would not already know or reasonably presume from this seasoned rock legend. As skillful as ever and in casual mode as appropriate to the show, but lacking not one ounce of those sensational skills. Fan favourites like Love Gun and Talk To Me pleased the eager crowd and New York Groove had the entire stadium bouncing to the beat. Strange Ways was a particular favourite of mine tonight and watching Ace perform Detroit Rock City will always bring chills for yours truly. The smoking guitar is surely appreciated as a band member in its own right and, as so deserves special mention to appease its demanding nature, lest it breathe its fury in my direction.
This tour is a tremendous opportunity to enjoy these musicians in the aforementioned style. The Ace Frehley section of the show was an absolute treat and I hope Australian audiences avail themselves of the opportunity to attend the remaining shows and watch in awe of the skill, experience and heritage before them this entire group of rock giants.
While the crowd refresh drinks either exhausted by consumption or spilled in neighborly benevolence over others (and no doubt relieve bursting bladders) the fantastic road crew skilfully manage a brilliantly executed stage renovation. Only the finest stage operators will do for Alice Cooper because, in exactly the same surgical precision as every other Alice Cooper show I have ever witnessed, the band commence proceedings at exactly the planned start time. I mean to the second. What professionals and yes, I do extract a personal thrill for myself by staring at my watch at the beginning Alice gigs. I’m certain its boring and bordering on OCD in the eyes of others but I find it a hoot to appreciate how refined, professional and precise this entire entourage are.
The band lurch forth from the contemporary stage of horror which is adorned with trinkets and revulsion’s to appall and disgust in brilliant Alice style. Clowns straight from your nightmarish imaginings, huge deformed babies bursting with malevolent intent and other assorted horrors, sufficient refined, so as to be fresh fanfare without altering the Alice Cooper show atmosphere.
After one last warning with a “well, well, well, what have we here…” and a brief reflection that there may yet be a chance of escape from the nightmare, we are informed that it is indeed “too late now” and we are destined to be his broken toys…forever. The man of the moment, every malevolent moment, cloaked and magnificent, walks into view amid a shower of sparks and air of evil intent. Some of the young amid the crowd realise that mummy’s reassurance that monsters are not real, reach the horrifying realisation that mummy was lying. He is here and he is real. The horrifying legend, near half a century in the making, become an unforgettable reality. All commanding and all powerful, more powerful than ever before…ALICE COOPER. He gazes out, scanning left and right and appears appeased that sufficient souls are assembled for the begging of our end.
With a shedding of the cloak, and a spinning of the cane Alice signals his musical minions to join in with the tormenting, as Melbourne falls helpless into the web of his nightmare.
I first clap eyes on the unmistakable and slightly sinister figure of Chuck Garrick emerging from the shadows, as though he is manifesting into our reality from a demonic dimension.
This prompts the most brilliant feeling of tremendous excitement because this is the first time we will see Chuck on an Australian stage since, along Tim Husung, Jan LeGrow, Chris Latham, and Calico Cooper they released their soaring and sensational sophomore album as Beasto Blanco. What a thrill is about to be bestowed upon us as this beast, who is the epitome of everything heavy rock and brilliant guy to boot, becomes larger than life from the sinister veil of the shadows. Seldom do you see a percussive protagonist grasp and command a crowd like Chuck, so much so that he is the envy of performers all over the world. Only a lucky and select group have had the privilege of shared the stage with this sensational behemoth of the bass. Cheap Trick, Billy Bob Thornton, the late, great Ronnie James Dio, L.A. Guns, Ted Nugent are but a few of the famous who have watched their music rhythmically launched beyond their imaginations and their stage shows enhanced immeasurably by his skill and very presence. Hell, this is the man (term used as descriptive only and does not allege that he is mere mortal) who took over bass duties from Karl Cochran, joined on stage with the brilliant John Corabi, Bruce Kulick and Eric Singer together as the Eric Singer Project, providing a hefty helping of oomph to their live work. And here he appears, live before our very eyes.
Flanking the opposite side of our host of horrors is the utterly sensational Hurricane Nita Strauss and the realisation again strikes me, like a Godzilla to the face courtesy of Nita’s signature guitar sling, that its really her… live on stage.
Nita has performed her unique style as part of The Iron Maidens and Femme Fatale, but took over guitar duties with Alice Cooper from Orianthi Panagaris in 2014. Since that time she has been the darling of Alice Cooper show fans all over the world, but it is her sensational guitar work and theatrical engagement that is on show for us tonight. And what a show she provides. Skillful, engaging and somehow enchanting in a rock and roll manner. All the young who would aspire to the ultimate contemporary ‘rock chick’ archetype need look no further for inspiration and aspirations. But with that moniker cast aside, Nita is a wailing sensation in my top picks of theatrically thrilling rock guitarists of all time and I don’t have gender categories.
How many performers would have the skill and intestinal fortitude to be suffering pain and persevere with performing so brilliantly regardless. I don’t think anyone else noticed Nita but all hats off to you anyway. Magnificent.
To the left of Nita is the one and only Tommy Henriksen. No matter whether you’re a fan of War and Peace, Warlock, Big Trouble, POL, Boink (with Glen Sobel) Hollywood Vampires, or any others from the distinguished list, DiS ViciOuS one is THE man. In fact, anything great in contemporary rock, anywhere in the world, ever, probably had Tommy’s masterful contribution at some critical point. The list of his accomplishments and contributions is too long for a review, too long for an article and too important to make up anything other than a Henriksen Historica reference book Volume One. All one can do is sit back in awe of his unbelievable skill.
At the kit we enjoy the drum dominance of Glen Sobel. The man who Alice Cooper describes as the best drummer in the world, and who is going to argue with Alice, right? Watching his skills during his solo’s, you know Alice Cooper is on the money with his assessment. The secret weapon in Glen Sobel’s quiver of skills is diversity. Picking up the sticks at eleven years old, Glen obviously possessed a wisdom that belied his youth, because he worked, studied and developed until he became recognised as a master drummer in any genre of music and in any environment. Glen is so accomplished, and celebrated by others accomplished that he is sought after all over the globe for his percussive prowess. From Kesha to Weird Al and everything in between (and everything outside those to be honest) the mastery of Glen would be on many fan favourite tracks, without many of those present even being aware that he was at the kit. Its arguably one of the enjoyable aspects of any Alice Cooper show that he selects such distinguished people to make up his ensemble. You could attend twenty Alice Cooper shows over an equal number of nights, and enjoy them all equally by concentrating your attention on one of these sensational musicians, their history, their dominance and their skills all culminating into one show. Perhaps I’m biased, but one Alice show is never enough for me to thoroughly appreciate who is performing and the standard they display each show.
But let’s not forget Chuck’s stage right wing man in the charismatic Ryan Roxie, who burst onto the Alice Cooper scene in 1996. Yet again, vastly accomplished in his own right and my personal favourite performances form the veritable plethora of tunes that make up his musical curriculum vitae, would have to be his contribution to Inhale by James Michael and Ain’t Life Grand from Slash’s Snakepit. But it is in the live performance that Ryan oozes charisma and sensational performance appeal. Yet again, it is a huge privilege to watch a musician who has performed so much with so many, to be classed and a legend and he alone on stage would thrill a crowd to the point of exhaustion.
With all elements and protagonists briefly represented above, I hope to have been successful in portraying the rock and roll reverence owed to each before us in this spectacle, and the sheer magnitude of the magnificent display they together impart.
And as for Alice, this is Forty years since on since the very first Australian headline shows of 1977 and Alice Cooper has never been more engaging, thrilling, commanding and thoroughly brilliant. With each decade performing (yes, decade) he has become increasingly compelling and talented and I don’t make this claim lightly because he was incredible to start with in the band named Alice Cooper in 1968. But, it is said that practice makes perfect and Alice Cooper has set the standard of perfect against which others are measured, and for such a long time. What is most remarkable is that he knows exactly where he fits in the grand scheme of his existence among us mere mortals. In person he is a thorough gentleman who is genuinely interested in each, and everyone he meets. A true megastar with the gift of longevity, and the nature that one feels fortunate to have occupied the same space, at the same time and enjoyed a conversation.
As for this particular Melbourne show, a new experience for all to enjoy, because there is nothing else on this earth that is akin to the particular excitement of an Alice Cooper performance. As the set-list unveils, I watch my young son visibly bursting with the excitement I felt the very first time I met Alice. The same experience I have somewhere in the memory banks when I first heard his tracks performed live, and an odd pride encapsulates me as I watch him singing No More Mr Nice Guy word for word. With fans younger than he in attendance and in equal celebration of Alice Cooper, the unique nature of he and his concerts becomes clear. The memories he has, and continues to provide. The memories his music prompts, having been lifelong and loyal companions in providing the soundtrack to our existence. The rock and roll majesty and relevance that he now conveys to the next generation, but still at the fore performing as strongly as ever.
As would be expected, Poison delights the crowd sending them into a frenzy before Ryan and Nita’s guitars decide that it is time for a brief and amorous interlude atop the fold-backs. A guess when a guitar decides its naughty time, there’s no getting in the way and they don’t care who’s watching. Ten points each for the dismount, by the way. Awesome.
Rather than replicating the entire set-list here, I chose to concentrate of the individual performers who are likely just feeling at work, doing their thing, but to us, they are thrilling us with the show of a lifetime. If they ever have an off night, their commitment to the crowd is of paramount importance, and it would still be a lifelong benchmark for the audience. From Chuck Garrick stalking the stage like a demon, permissively luring potential prey, to Glen’s incredible theatrical skills at every, EVERY beat, culminating in a solo duel between the pair that pounds against your chest throughout, this is rock ‘n’ roll at its finest. Nurse Sheryl integrates into the show in superb fashion, killing off her number one man, yet again, but with the promise of his return after his alter ego has its stage time allotment. My wife is so jealous.
The guillotine takes the head of Alice, yet again but it feels like it’s for the first time. Everything in this contemporary show fits as brilliantly as ever before and, somehow, never gets old. Just as an encore of Schools Out could never be replaced as the show finale, and its appeal is just as fresh as in 1972.
Melbourne is dismissed, but we long for detention as the realisation takes hold that the show is at an end. One of the few shows of all time where you wish would just start again. The show that you want to go back the next night and enjoy it all over again. The one that has me considering that Alice will always be, but will we? I can’t wait for his next return. Where’s my car keys? Because I have to head north for more of this Australian Tour.
|Mon 23 Oct – AIS Arena, Canberra, ACT|
|Tue 24 Oct – Newcastle Entertainment Centre, NSW|
|Wed 25 Oct – Brisbane Entertainment Centre, QLD|
Review Contributed by Casper
ACE FREHLEY – ORIGINS VOL 1 (2016)
Release Date: 15 April 2016
℗ 2016 Entertainment One
Following the success of his 2014 release Space Invader, and subsequently gracing stages the world over for fans to make the pilgrimage and pay homage to one of the most iconic rockers in history, Ace Frehley takes us aboard the starship, backward in time to celebrate his influences. The release of Vol 1 certainly is suggestive of the possibility of future releases, but keep the mystery say I, and let’s just enjoy the first for a while. And enjoy you will.
This is one of those rare releases that consists of significant multidirectional appeal. Aging rockers can sit back and enjoy a rock icon celebrating the hits of yesteryear sprinkled with the freshness of his own unique edge. Guitarists the world over can spin the endless riffs again and again drawing influence from a master. This album is one you can put on at a party and let the familiarity of tunes accompany the social intercourse typical of gatherings. You can revel in the marvellous contributions of guests during selected serenades. One can simply soak up the latest release of a fan favourite and simply enjoy the superb work of a rock archetype. Hell, you can also get dressed to the nines in sparkling rock apparel, paint your face in ceremonial reverence to your favourite Kiss character, wield air guitar aloft and scream with glee in accompaniment to the first recording featuring Ace and Paul Stanley in almost two decades. The applications of this work seem so limitless that it fast appears essential to a rock music collection.
Having spent a little time with the man, I am content to simply continue on with our conversations as regards rock history and influences by means of the medium of communication in which Ace is most fluent, powerful, compelling and articulate. The language of guitar. Needless to say, but I anticipate the gems adorning this article of rock regalia will have more than its fair share of airtime from my speakers.
Ace launches us into this album with a sensational, and somehow uplifting rendition of White Room, originally purveyed by Cream. Brilliantly true to the original protagonists but with all the majesty of any Ace Frehley performance, it oozes reference to the former. The solos send you soaring with overtones of rock reminiscence.
Now could the Rolling Stones possibly be omitted from a rockers list of influences? Ace says ‘nay’ with a truly blistering version of Street Fighting Man and if the Jagger-esque vocals don’t hook you the solos certainly will. In the same spirit, Ace resurrects the brilliance of Jimi Hendrix with Spanish Castle Magic. Epic, just epic. No! Fucking sensational. One can visualise the pair on stage together in celebration of one another’s finery, with an assembled stage front mass going nuts in bewildered awe. The worship continues with a visit back to British rock royalty Free and a truly astounding performance of Fire And Water. Just an amazing performance and unmistakably historic with Paul Stanley and Ace together again. It genuinely finds one reflecting upon how much media beat up of bad blood is based upon accuracy, and considering the quality that is invented fantasy an alternate agenda. This may be a moderate hop from that typical of a Kiss form character, but the vocals delivered will give traditional fans an absolute treat. A visit straight back to any number of past classics demonstrative of vocal finery, albeit to something a little different. Sorry, just repeating for the Kiss fans… Now brace yourselves for a historical moment indeed as we hear Paul Stanley and Ace Frehley together again on one track.
Now, I must throw hands skyward and be perfectly sincere in my feelings of trepidation as we approach one of the finest creations of my beloved Thin Lizzy. I was fearful that this may not sit well with my uncompromising, yet steadfast dedication to Thin Lizzy and irrational, jealous guardianship of Phil’s Lynott’s memory. And really, who am I to feel this way? I should not have been concerned in the slightest, as the first three notes and vocal dedication to the original characters find harmony in my aural canals and weighty heart. The burden is lifted. Reverence to Thin Lizzy and the track, but moreover a magical and scarcely believable homage to the story line and historical content made manifest in song. How a mere mortal can replicate the grandeur with a guitar, escapes belief. Oh yes, a momentary lapse in concentration. This is a Spaceman after all. Little wonder. But the realisation takes the heights of unbridled excitement to new heights as you realise this is not the work of one man. The monumental glory of this track is further enhanced by the unmistakable skill afforded by the one and the only Slash. What a sensational treat. Bravura gentlemen.
The sensational delivery continues with Bring It On Home sure to bring the goosebumps to the surface. Amazing stuff and the track sequence as a mid-album change of pace is simply superb.
A further hallmark of this incredible collection is the appearance of the archetypical Wild Thing herself, Lita Ford. This is just perfect. Legendary rockers jamming to an absolute classic by The Troggs. Makes you feel like a fly on the wall of one of the rare rock moments as a couple of rockers just do their thing. Not too polished and not too perfect. Just jamming. Just perfect.
John 5 brings his magic to fold with a tremendous delivery of Parasite, I suspect finally delivered true to the vision when originally penned. Blistering solos bring this track into something larger than life.
Steppenwolf are fittingly represented as we are blessed with a Magic Carpet Ride that will knock your socks off, and send them floating back earthward. This is just before Ace belts out a sensational reclamation of Cold Gin. Simply amazing and vastly significant. The very first recording of Ace providing the vocals for both Cold Gin and Parasite, both of which he co-wrote back in the day, but now performs in brilliant style.
Till The End Of The Day is modernised marginally and freshened up, but still true to the unique style of The Kinks, before a tremendous rendition of Rock And Roll Hell brings this remarkable collection to a close. And all too soon.
This amazing collection with sensational contributions from characters like Mike McCready, Slash, Lita Ford, Rob Zombie and John 5 adds to the already vast appeal. Will there be a Volume 2, 3 or 4? Who knows? What I can assure you of is that after a listen to this gargantuan behemoth of inspirational appeal, you too will want more. I absolutely love this collection for a vast range of reasons, but primarily because the contents make up a component of that essential to Ace’s development and career. Simply put, that alone makes it essential listening. Its sheer magnificence is a bonus that will keep just on delivering for your pleasure.