Tonight, I’m at the NEC, or as it’s currently referred to the Resorts World Arena, for Alice Cooper. It is quite a beautiful sight to see groups of people, milling about a venue, chatting, laughing and drinking waiting for live music. It’s hard to believe the last two years of a global pandemic have happened, but it really does feel good to be back in a venue to watch live music.
Alice Cooper is currently doing a UK Tour which is kind of a double header with The Cult. Opening up is Creeper, formed in 2014, a band from the south coast, who are quite clean, and by that, I mean no dirty riffs. The appear to be the rockier side of pop, but do tell us they are playing Donnington, sorry Download, which is quite a scoop for them. Sadly, they only get 25 minutes and just as they are getting into their flow their time is up. I do have to mention lead singer Will Gould, who clearly has charisma to hold a crowd. I would be interested to see them headline their own gig to see their full show.
Within 20 minutes the lights go down again as the house music of Massive Attack fades, keyboards start into ‘Sun King’, and within seconds Ian Astbury is berating the audience for sitting down. This continues for a while and he does genuinely seem to be in a pissy mood. Saying that I’ve seen footage of other shows on the tour and he’s been consistent in telling folks to stand up as “it’s a rock show”. They get just over an hour, which is perfect as it means we get a set of hits and key tracks from their back catalogue, and it genuinely is a joy. Billy Duffy appears to get younger by the year, and can he make a guitar sing. It’s quite an iconic image seeing him with that big white Gretsch Falcon.
I’ve followed The Cult since the mid-80’s and they are always the real deal live, but Astbury did say the oddest thing tonight when telling us “This is my real accent”, in an American drawl. This is bizarre as I’m sure back in the day he sounded more Yorkshire than Yankee!
Next, we have the king of horror himself, Alice Cooper. At 74 he remains spritely and runs about all over the whole stage, which is set as a castle. There are the hits and expected songs, and I won’t do set spoilers, but ‘Dead Babies’ was a highlight, followed by his guillotine event. The band are fantastic, and accomplished musicians but we are here for Alice, and he doesn’t disappoint, whether in top hat and tails or a straight jacket, he commands our attention.
The 90-minute set ends with an encore of ‘School’s Out’ and then he’s done. He remains a busy chap, with his solo work, Hollywood Vampires and media work and shows no signs of slowing down.
Those were the positives but in terms of balance we must address a few issues. Tickets for tonight’s gig ranged from 60 to 80 quid, which really is a lot of money. Merchandise was wide and varied but T-shirts were an eye watering £35. A pint is now £6.20 and I dread to think what food prices are. Parking comes in at £12.
In the current economic climate, following the pandemic and impact it had on live music, surely, we should be encouraging people to come out to gigs, but these prices are making going to a gig a luxury and for many, one they can’t afford. For the average punter tonight, a ticket, beer and parking equate to a week’s food shop. And that will be a big decision in the coming months. The venue was less than ¾ sold and with prices like these I predict more people will be priced out of going to live music. That would be a huge shame given what we’ve endured these recent years.
Review – Glenn Raybone
Photograph – Courtesy of Atom Splitter PR