Review & Photography by Lindsay Smith for MPM
There are certain gigs that as a photographer are on your bucket list, Alice was on mine so the opportunity to see him plus one of the bands from my mid teams whose ‘Love” album I about wore out came along it was smiles all round.
The newly opened Swansea Arena lended itself well to such an auspicious occasion, the gig was sold out and the opening night of the UK tour, so the anticipation levels were high as was the number of Alice lookalikes leaning on the barrier.
Opening the proceedings was Creeper, the lights stayed low for the Southampton Goth Rock band as frontman Will Gould began an expressive and energetic set full of swagger to warm the party up. Cyanide from their second studio album ‘Sex, Death & the Infinite Void’ kicked the short but full on set off. Down Below from their second album stuck in my head but it was the closing track Annabelle from 2017’s Eternity, in your Arms’ that got the mood ready for “The Cult”. Definitely a band to check out.
After what seemed like forever, the lights went down and ‘The Cult’ with the distinctive sound of Billy Duffy’s guitar and the unique voice of Ian Astbury smashed their way though your ears with ‘Sun King’ before smoothly flowing into ‘Automatic Blues’. The band transported me back in time with ‘Sweet Soul Sister’ and I have to say, they sounded better than I thought possible.
The sound in Swansea Arena is great from the back and as there was no pit photography allowed for their set, it was nice to just enjoy the set if not a little frustrating as a long time fan.
Ian likes a chat and engaged with the crowd easily talking about his Celtic Roots and as the tambourines flew into the crowd, even the hardened Alice fans warmed to the charismatic Astbury.
It was however, Duffy’s riffs and licks that stole it for me though – phenomenal player and when the familiar opening of ‘Love Removal Machine’, ‘Revolution’,’ Rain’ and ‘She Sells Sanctuary’ hit my ears I felt transported in time back to my own days of oodles of black eyeliner and black lipstick bopping around the local disco Ian Astbury style!
Enough of the time travelling and it was time for the other headliner for tonight, Alice Cooper. The stage was set…castle turrets, chandeliers, skulls and bones, in total contrast to the straight gig sets of the two previous bands.
But of course, we know what to expect, a performance, a theatrical fest of catchy songs spanning Alice Coopers career, a production not a gig, supreme musicians, and the master of shock rock Alice Cooper himself who with a 50 year plus career seems as sprightly and magnificent as ever!
“Feed My Frankenstein’ kicked it all off, the crowd bouncing and singing along, we had the first 4 songs in the photo pit and it honestly felt like 2 minutes such was the power of the performance with the band swapping places, coming together to hit those lovely guitar heavy phrases, playing to the audience all the while Alice overseeing and commanding, wafting his cane, a sword, a knife, steady in his vocal and never breaking character. What a show!
“No More Mr Nice Guy’, ‘Bed of Nails’ and “Hey Stoopid’ never let the pace up for a second, a whirlwind of such classic tracks with costume changes, giant monsters and equally giant choruses. Swansea Arena holds 3000+ and I think everyone was singing along.
I won’t detail the full set list for those of you going to other shows but there was a live debut and loads of theatrics with huge ‘Billion Dollar Babies’ , the guillotine (of course) and tonnes more classics.
A 19-song set list in 1 hour 15ish minutes – fast and frantic but all in a good way. Yes ‘Poison was in there, and of course the one that every generation knows ‘School’s Out’.
Nita Strauss is the guitar queen of rock, a goddess with a guitar who can bend those strings with such dexterity all the time stamping her authority on the stage.
She has a confidence that is very well deserved. Ryan Roxie is on parr with Nita, performance perfection and fabulous to watch and listen too. Tommy Henriksen equally matches his colleagues for his turn at solos, seriously nippy in his riffage. The low end delivered impeccably by Chris Wyse. They play off each other but also with each other.
The band are unbelievably good, Glen Sobel smashing out the tempo and under-pinning each track, they all perform not just play but it is the playing that matters and it’s flawless! My only comment would be turn it up a bit Swansea Arena, these songs need to be played loud, hit you squarely in the stomach, 4 guitars on stage and at times I couldn’t feel that fuzz let alone the big tub thumping!!
The Godfather of Shock Rock is still amazing, the ultimate showman and you really shouldn’t miss this tour, buy the tickets, get yourself out for a night of pure music and theatrics. Total enjoyment.