ALL PHOTOS CONTRIBUTED BY CASPER
BATTLE SCARS TRACKLISTING
Into The Fray
Coat Tail Rider
Last Day Alive
Reviewed by Casper of Rohan
With mere days to wait until Rose Carleo and her troupe of hard rockin’ troubadours release their much anticipated EP Battle Scars it is high time we batten down the hatches, bubble wrap the good china, cover the children’s ears and give this beauty a thorough lap or two around the aural track.
The band consist of Mick Adkins on guitars and backing vocals, Steve King on Bass Guitar, the mighty Mick O’Shea giving the kit a thorough pummelling and the voice that brings our rocking rabble into line and the tunes together, our rose clad Les Paul welding mistress of musical mayhem herself, Rose Carleo.
From the opening notes of Into the Fray, a hooky riff within twenty seconds and a screech of ‘c’mon’ from Rose, we are launched into what we are already assured will be a blues infused, rock sensation with a little smack on the ass of country appeal. The first element waving itself high and with all the ‘look at me’ of a topless shoulder surfer at a festival is the live show allure the band have managed to cram into this killer collection. With minimal outside production intervention the band have ‘bottled’ the elusive aural appeal of the in person performance, albeit with the finest sound system I’ve ever witnessed, but you get the idea.
With all band members wearing their aussie rock heritage out, tanned and proud just like…well…a…Faded Tattoo this track smacks me right in the chest. Having just spent a very emotive couple of hours with Angry Anderson and Mark Evans, coupled with my preparations to accompany the lads through a few shows of the Blood Brothers Tour, this dedication to the late greats Pete Wells and Mick Cocks will tug at the heart strings of any aussie rock aficionado, but is a solid performer in its own right. It’s entirely possible I’m biased but I thoroughly enjoy this Rose Tattoo esque number.
Battle Scars and Coat Tail Rider are both written by the entire band with the other offerings being penned by the traditional team of Rose and Mick. The former expands our exploration of the bands tremendous capability, skill and experience with every element and instrument, shining in equal measures. Alright Mick…maybe the killer riff edges ahead a little. Thoroughly rocking but with a slightly softer side to roses delivery. It is brilliantly constructed with the temptation for any element to run off unchecked resisted and a perfect balance is maintained.
But while highlighting band tremendous sound appeal, get your ears around Coat Tail Rider and try to pinpoint where you have heard the elements before. This is no copy of anything else, but its littered with elements of appeal that ranges from what sounds initially like Gary Glitter’s Rock n Roll on ‘roids to a soaring heavy blues classic with more hooks than Geoff himself. And all of this sensational sound on an EP? Damn.
Last Day Alive is fairly self-explanatory but the manner in which it is delivered actually lifts your spirits phenomenally and has you singing along, nodding to the sensational drum beat , swaying to the sensational rhythm and giving the ‘riffage’ all the air guitar you can muster. You’ll be rocking this like it’s your last day alive, but don’t do it at the red light like yours truly, lest ye too be met with inquiries as to your state of mental welfare.
This EP is an absolute cracker, crammed with rock appeal and oozing melodic magnetism, sequenced to perfection because you are looking for another ten tracks trying to will it into an album. Oh well…press play again and keep fingers crossed. Perhaps we will be blessed soon by a full length installment from this fantastic band.
Tonight is of very special significance to all members of Chocolate Starfish and a certain reverence in present and prominent for all in the know, because tonight is the official launch of the band’s latest offering in Spider.
The album is such a magnificent way to celebrate the life of Zoran ‘Spider’ Romic, who passed away in 2012 from after battling Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma and sadly succumbed to the illness. To those of us who enjoyed Spider’s years with Chocolate Starfish, take some comfort that Spider was able to see the reformation of the band prior to his passing. I simply find it more agreeable to think in those terms, rather than entertain the thought that Spider was tragically torn from the group as soon as they began their road back to success. Nevertheless, Zoran never really left the band from metaphysical perspective and front man Adam Thompson’s description of Zoran during this recent interview is moving to say the least.
Needless to repeat, but certainly strongly felt tonight, this is an extremely august and emotive occasion.
As the crowd are welcomed into the Memo Music Hall, a pleasant reminder of how professional the staff are within the walls of this establishment. Professionally attired crowd controllers welcome patrons as valued customers and set the atmosphere beautifully for the attentive service staff within the venue. From smiling, welcoming hosts, to friendly, professional and courteous bar staff, this is one of those stand out venues who understand that money is increasingly difficult to come by. For those patrons who choose to spend their hard earned on a night out in celebration of band and perhaps a few bevvies to achieve a suitable state of social refreshment, the staff here value their selection of venue above most and treat each and every customer with the respect they deserve. Even those few who have taken the liquefied merriment a little too far are treated with courtesy, respect and as someone who would probably not behave in such a manner in normal circumstances.
As Mr Paul Woseen prepares to demonstrate that his skills on stage, far exceed his usual bass contributions within the ranks of The Screaming Jets, the audience settle for a night of enjoyment and celebration. Paul is a celebrated song writer and musician so to some who have not experienced his solo performances, this was a genuine treat. From his own works that have been floating around since his very first bands to supremely impressive covers such as Freefallin’ written by the late, great Tom Petty, Paul provided a tremendous opening set to warm the crowd for the main event.
Before Chocolate Starfish take to the stage, I will seize opportunity set the scene a little further. Right back to the days of Circus Charlie or for those who remember the magical days, Show Of Hands supporting the mighty Motorhead at the Prince Of Wales Hotel in St,Kilda, Melbourne, Adam Thompson has carved his mark upon the memories of audiences an all thrills, no holds barred and magnificent all round entertainer. From extensive visits to see this band performs in the early to mid 90’s, I can attest to the fact that Adam in particular, has never truly aligned the measure of his commitment to performance, with the numbers at the door count. You get 100% and not one ounce less, every show, every time. After chatting a little further with the wonderful Mel and admiring the blending of the Chocolate Starfish logo into the Spider album design, it’s time to see the group let loose on this impressive Melbourne assembly and celebrate like Spider is right there with them.
Tim Henwood performed guitar for Spider and is frequently on stage with the band, but as the front man for and mastermind behind the sensational band Palace Of The King, is off in Europe taking rock to adoring masses. Fortunately the skilful Zakk Zedras steps into the breech to provide the licks, riffs and shredding for the evening. Having enjoyed his work with the band during some performances on the Red Hot Summer Tour, I am thrilled to have the opportunity to watch his remarkable rock style yet again.
At the keyboard we enjoy another founding member of Chocolate Starfish in Norman Falvo, who is not only a skilled musician, but also a thorough gentleman. His musical contributions have been at the heart of Chocolate Starfish since they were merely The Hodads, and his skills are crucial to the bands unique style and sound.
John “Stone” Nixon on bass guitar and Darren Danielson on drums are long serving members of Chocolate Starfish. They both committed to the band in early 1993, and probably a little before that as well (shhh…don’t tell Juno) after the disbanding of Roxus at the same time. The two were already more than familiar to providing the rhythmic and percussive backbone to music, working together as far back as Windsor Jamm, and have been essential elements of Chocolate Starfish ever since.
From the first notes of the fantastic song Farmer Loretta, the audience is reminded of how magnificent this band truly is and why it is such a sensational privilege it is that we can enjoy their music, both old and new, and all over again. All Over Me followed by Ten Feet Tall in sequence, just as they appeared on the 1994 debut album satisfied the ‘old school’ fan within but then an air of reverence swept over as Heavyweight, a track co-written by Zoran and Adam, provides timely reminder of what tonight is all about.
Mountain, Mother Lover, Accidentally Cool, Head all provide a sensational blend of past hits and modern fan favourites, and if only the entire world could see what this crowd are witnessing tonight, we would see Chocolate Starfish touring the world with music celebrated across every continent and in every country. Their modern offerings lack none of their signature sound and past appeal but a contemporary edge is afforded to each, providing all the hooks required to hold our enthusiasm.
Four Letter Word, Sin City, Bad Dog and You’re So Vain round off what has been a stellar performance from a magnificent modern rock show, but the crowd are not quite as spent as Adam would prefer, so its back on stage to give them a little more. Ballroom Blitz by The Sweet, a little Bohemian Rhapsody from Queen will slap us silly but New Sensation by INXS is offered with the announcement the Chocolate Starfish will perform the classic INXS album Kick on Saturday 14 July 2018. With sweat dripping from every brow and a wide smile across every dial, thoroughly exhausted from the fabulous rocking we have all enjoyed, I firmly believe that although wonderfully battered and beaten, every member of the audience would have gladly headed strain for The Palms at Crown to see this show right away. Certainly all those who have witnessed the successful string of Meat Loaf’s ‘Bat Out of Hell’ album shows, know how brilliant is the Chocolate Starfish Classic Albums Series and none here have any intention of missing out.
But for those who have failed to relive the finest of ‘90’s Chocolate Starfish, mixed with their magnificent contemporary works, you still have opportunity at:-
FRI 13 APR, 8PM – Adelaide Spider Showcase, The Gov Hindmarsh, SA
TUE 24 APR – Mornington Spider Showcase, The Grand Hotel, Mornington, VIC
FRI 4 MAY, 6PM – Chocolate Starfish at the Leadbelly, Newtown
Chocolate Starfish remain a band that Melbourne is fiercely proud of and their music is a staple for so many the world over, but to see them all performing tonight, at least as brilliantly as ever before, taking a crowd to the brink of melodic ecstasy, and a few far beyond, is an opportunity all fine music aficionados should seize with both hands, legs wrapped around and fangs in the neck Spider style. In return you will be caught in the Chocolate Starfish web of stage show brilliance and not released until most of your bodily fluids have been offered up to fuel their determination to bring us more and more.
What a show, what a night. Thank you Chocolate Starfish and we won’t be far behind you. (hehehe)
Review Contributed by Casper of Rohan
Ah yes, the Palais Theatre in St Kilda. What more appropriate and august chamber, firmly established in the annals of rock history and live performance, could be more suited to present such a rock icon as Mr Robert Plant and his assembly of sensational accompanying musicians.
No prizes for guessing the demographic represented, but those assembled were bursting with excitement to see the voice of Led Zepplin and creator of more contemporary musical fare. As one entered the venue and enjoyed the opening offerings from the splendid, gifted and vastly entertaining Seth Lakeman, there presented sufficing time to ponder the reality of what we were so close to experiencing. And perhaps this is another string of talent to the bow of Robert Plant, in selecting an opening act who is so very skillful and impressive, yet somehow seems to help build the excitement for the evening’s main event. Please pardon the ‘string’ pun there Seth, but with such an array of stringed instruments aloft on stage and at your command, one can be forgiven methinks. With such splendid storytelling and musical skill, Seth thrilled the audience most when we joined in with glasses raised high and cries of “raise your glass to the one you love” but for me the highlight was the title track from his 2004 album Kitty Jay. You really do become lost in the Seth Lakeman show when enjoying such well written aural delights and mouth agape in awe of his amazing skill with all that is stringed, but welcome news arrived upon finale that he would be back a little later. Those already familiar with the show know that Seth is back to join the Sensational Space Shifters throughout the evening.
And so to the main event and as the crowd settles in an odd silence, the reality hits that we are about to receive a visit from a genuine rock deity. As the Sensational Space Shifters introduce the opener before a most apt backing banner bearing of a crown of feathers (the modern standard illustrated within the covers of Carry Fire) the legend appears. Now reality nestles firmly at the fore as Mr Robert Plant steps onto the stage. The privilege one feels to be able to enjoy this rock legend, fifty years on from Led Zeppelin beginnings and during his 70th year among we, the mere mortals is scarcely describable. In think the word humbling will suffice. My own bewildered glee is akin to the youthful exuberance of Roberts’s musical beginnings, behind a curtain and before French windows, mimicking Elvis at the age of ten. A kid before Christmas, running rampant in a moment of timeless wonder as Robert brings lips to mic and the unmistakable voice brings together daydream with reality. It’s really him. The voice that has provided the influence and inspiration to literally, generations of performers and carries such a vast chunk of rock history, brings the feelings of genuine honor and privilege. From the first notes, comes the thrill that our musical master still ‘feels’ every note to his very soul as he accompanies every sound with his special array of stage movements, as though squeezing the musical magnificence to the fore.
Before long, time returns to its usual pace and I realise that the Sensational Space Shifters are live and in person also. An assembly of true musical masters, each celebrated in their own right, but here together put on such a phenomenally magnificent show, but what else could tease the spotlight away from Robert but stellar accompaniment. From the magical rhythm infusion provided by Billy Fuller on both double and shoulder slung bass, misery stick, to the outrageously talented and musically magnificent Liam ‘Skin’ Tyson on acoustic and electric guitar along with a seriously sensational helping of electric banjo, this ensemble is just built to thrill. John Baggott at the keys keeps the audience well and truly engaged in providing the prompts for clapping and knee slipping, but performing in such an entertaining manner. Justin Adams is an astonishing guitarist and played literally until his fingers bled, presumably. Wrong Adams for that track I know, but after leaving each solo and strumming sensation with vigorous shaking of the hands, this guy gives more to his performance than we can reasonably expect. Absolutely amazing work resulting in some of the most astonishing and animated guitar performances one could ever wish to experience.
David Smith on drums was afforded more than a little ribbing for feeling unwell and apparently coming very close to skipping the gig, but surely all in jest as an ‘in’ joke because his performance was brilliant.
But this entire performance was nothing short of legendary for the observer, but mere daily business for such a skilful band. All the musical delights bound together with offerings and oddities from our beloved host, from “I made some new friends today, they make as much sense as everybody else…they’re called penguins” to a brief history of the introduction of the sukey jumps of the south bringing Gallows Pole a most warm reception, the performance brought the man and his personality to us, as much as his music. And that music. Oh that music, from as recent a release as The May Queen to All The Kings Horses to songs ‘born on the side of a mountain in 1971, by the side of a waterfall, it was about 11 o’clock in the morning if I can remember rightly’, Misty Mountain Hop to That’s The Way, the expansive catalog was explored exquisitely. Even after a fitting description of his collaborations with Alison Kraus, Robert introduced Please Read The Letter which included a magnificent string accompaniment from Seth Lakeman back on stage. And a magnificent rendition of Fixin’ To Die, originally by Mr Bukka White was a chance for Justin Adams to showcase his particular skills. Just unbelievable.
A goodnight Melbourne was bought by no one, but a standing ovation was offered none the less. Not the first of the evening either. But the gang were back with no particular delay and were met with howls of celebration, because all knew it was not over until we had enjoyed some of the New World and the finale that would see all leave satisfied and fully spent, Whole Lotta Love. And so the finale was brought about and all were happy. As the crowds departed, I could see that I was not alone in wishing to share such a wealth of rock heritage with my children and mouths were agape in suitable reverence to all that had been witnessed. Thank you Robert and thank you all for bringing such a memorable highlight to the lives of so many. And you thought we were “just sitting there while you lot fuck about…”. Really? Wow. Thank you.
Review Contributed by Casper
SONS OF APOLLO recently released their album Psychotic Symphony on 20th October. Casper had an amazing chat with Derek Sherinian about what to expect and the possibility of catching them here on tour!
Sons Of Apollo–former Dream Theater members Mike Portnoy and Derek Sherinian, Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal (ex-Guns N’ Roses), Billy Sheehan (The Winery Dogs, Mr. Big, David Lee Roth) and Jeff Scott Soto (ex-Journey, ex-Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force)—have released their highly anticipated debut album, Psychotic Symphony, out today on InsideOutMusic/Sony Music.
BUY PSYCHOTIC SYMPHONY HERE
Psychotic Symphony was produced by the dynamic production duo of Portnoy and Sherinian, also affectionately known as “The Del Fuvio Brothers,” which is the nickname given to them over 20 years ago during their time together in Dream Theater.
Sons Of Apollo got together very organically, as Portnoy explains: “Derek and I reunited shortly after I left Dream Theater in 2010 and we put together an all-instrumental touring band with he and I, Billy Sheehan, and Tony MacAlpine. That was my first time working with Derek since the ‘90s when he was in Dream Theater and it was just great to be working with him again. Ever since that tour, which was really just a one-off live thing, he has been nudging me to start a real, original, full-time band. The timing just had never been right, because I had too many other things on my plate. Long story short, the time was finally right to take the bait and put together a band.”
“Mike and I work at a relentless pace in the studio,” continues Sherinian. “The music is modern, but we have an old school soul. What is unique about SONS OF APOLLO is that we have true rock n’ roll swagger along with the virtuosity– a lethal combination!
Fans can get a more detailed glimpse into how the band came together in this new interview filmed with all five members in the studio.
Mike Portnoy, Derek Sherinian and Billy Sheehan previously toured together in 2012 and 2013 as PSMS (along with guitarist Tony MacAlpine), playing all instrumental versions from each of their previously recorded music. SONS OF APOLLO is the next logical progression by adding a vocalist and creating all-original material. The band incorporates the progressive style and individual technical prowess that Portnoy & Sherinian shared together in Dream Theater combined with the swagger and groove of Van Halen, Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin.
“I have known Mike and Derek for a long time, so when they came to me with Sons of Apollo, I jumped on this straight away,” says Thomas Waber, Label Manager/A&R International of InsideOutMusic. “However, the album they ended up recording exceeded my already high expectations by a long mile! We couldn’t be happier about it!”
GILBY CLARKE is heading down to Australia for some intimate club shows in November/December hitting Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Canberra! Casper had an amazing chat with the man about what to expect!!
Gilby Clarke needs no introduction to rock fans. He played in both Guns N’ Roses and the MC5. Who else can claim membership in two of the most life-altering rock ’n’ roll outfits to ever exist on the planet? Clarke hit the stage with his GN’R running buds at the 2012 Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony – he appeared on the band’s The Spaghetti Incident, Live Era ’88-’91 and Greatest Hits albums, and spent years on the massive Use Your Illusion world tour in the ’90s – but his proudest GN’R moment is, he says, the Gilby rolls mode on the GN’R pinball machine!
Before joining the GN’R circus, the guitarist bounced from the great Candy to his own, heartbreakingly ignored, big-riff quartet Kill for Thrills. Clarke has, along the way, toured, and/or recorded with everyone from Nancy Sinatra to Heart to Gene Simmons to Slash’s Snakepit. In between touring & recording he was making videos with not only GNR, but Michael Jackson & Slash when MTV was de rigueur. Perhaps you saw him starring alongside Mötley Crüe’s Tommy Lee on Rockstar: Supernova or VH1 Honors with Rob Zombie, Slash & Ace Frehley?
Watch: Cure Me Or Kill Me – Live Mandarine Park 2015 just click below
Then there’s his solo career that earned him critical winks and sales for such albums as Pawnshop Guitars (including the American hits “Cure Me … Or Kill Me,” and “Tijuana Jail”), The Hangover (two songs made Bruce Willis’ The Story of Us), Rubber, 99 Live & Swag.
Clarke, who’s an old school mash-up of Keef, Johnny Thunders, and B.B. King, continues to write fist-jacking rock ’n’ roll songs with fat choruses, and appear on stages around the globe. He produces worthy bands too. He’s also one of the sweetest gents you’ll ever meet. He’s a guitar hero, certainly, but also a gentleman whose heart happens to rush at rock ’n’ roll speed.
Gilby is hitting the east coast of Australia for some intimate, sweaty, raw, totally Rock ‘n’ Roll shows! Gilby will be Will be ripping up a selection of hits from his past bands Guns N Roses, Slash’s Snakepit, RockStar Supernova, MC5 and much more with full band in tow.
Gilby Clarke Australian Tour Dates
Thursday 30th November – Crowbar – Brisbane
Friday 1st Dec – Cherry Bar – Melbourne
Saturday 2nd Dec – The Basement – Canberra
Sunday 3rd Dec – Frankie’s – Sydney
With the final show at Frankie’s in Sydney being a huge party in celebration of their 5th birthday. – FREE ENTRY
Tickets go on sale Mon 9th Oct via: www.hardlinemedia.net
VIP meet and greets available
Once in a lifetime chance to get to meet an important member of from Guns N Roses history.
3 personal items signed
Only 20 VIP available at each show
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