Alice Cooper / The Stranglers / MC50

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Alice Cooper / The Stranglers / MC50 - First Direct Arena, Leeds (UK) - 07 October 2019

After the last tour that Alice did two years ago, where he reunited with the three remaining original band members, I thought that maybe the ticket sales would be less impressive. It would be a hard thing to follow. I was happy then to see a well-attended hall. Some seats were empty, but not that many. And Alice had promised something new, both in the stage set, and the songs he would be performing. However, before seeing that, we would get to see two other legendary bands, starting with MC50 who, many years ago were called MC5. Well, one of them was, as guitarist and vocalist Wayne Kramer is the only member of that band remaining in this line up, three of the originals no longer being with us, and the drummer for some reason not wanting to play (I think that they should be called MC10. Anyone who is good at maths will know I am right about this!). Still, Kramer has assembled a collection of musicians from other well known bands, to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the release of their live album 'Kick Out The Jams,' with Bill Gould (Faith No More) on bass, Brendan Canty (Fugazi) on drums, Marcus Durant (Zen Guerrilla) on vocals and Kim Thayil (Soundgarden) on guitar, a troupe that proved they definitely knew how to kick out the jams.

To be honest, I knew about MC5, but couldn't really tell you about anything they had done, but I did recognise the title 'Kick Out The Jams' on the banner either side of the backdrop, and they dutifully played this as the second song. As you can imagine, Kramer is no longer a young guy, he's around seventy, but his energy and shape were remarkable. They actually ran onto the stage. Their style of music is naturally rooted in the sixties Rock and boogie style, but with cutting lyrics to many of the songs. Most times, this kind of band doesn't really do anything for me, but I have to say I thought they were quite entertaining. Alongside Kick Out...' they played 'Ramblin' Rose' as the opener, 'Motor City Is Burning', while the last song 'Looking At You' was preceded by a bit of politics, being dedicated to the "Political Classes", with yet another denouncement of Mr Trump by American musicians. The gangs don't like him very much it seems. Vocalist Marcus Durant became very passionate during this, falling to his knees and pounding the stage with his fist, and I hope it made him feel a bit better. They received a very good reaction and, at the end of their set, most people seemed to like them, as did I actually.

Ramblin' Rose, Kick Out the Jams, Come Together, Motor City Is Burning, Borderline, Everything, Call Me Animal, Sister Anne, Looking at You.

The Stranglers are known to most people from their seventies heyday when they had chart hits such as 'No More Heroes', 'Golden Brown' and 'Peaches', and they pleased everybody eventually by playing all of them. I say eventually because J.J.Burnel had immense technical problems, getting no sound from his bass, requiring him to change twice, but everything was OK by his third. It was a shame because they were quite good, and singer/guitarist Baz Warne had to do quite a bit of filling in while the problem was sorted. After a while, he kind of ran out of things, and just resorted to drinking a bottle of something he had at hand. Again, not really a band I would go to see, but the lesser known material, to me anyway, kept my attention, and the better-known songs actually had people on their feet, which is unusual before Alice comes on, but there you go. To be fair, the technical issues didn't seem to phase them, but I did feel a bit sorry for them as their performance had been slightly interrupted.

Toiler on the Sea (Get a) Grip (on Yourself), Nice 'n' Sleazy, 5 Minutes, Golden Brown, Peaches, Freedom, Walk On By (Dionne Warwick), Relentless, Hanging Around, No More Heroes.

At 9pm, the time had come for the legend who is Alice Cooper to begin his evening of macabre vaudeville, and he had promised some songs that he hadn't played for a long time, along with a castle! Well, it was part of a castle, a tower if you will, on the left of the stage, and Alice entered from the ramparts more to the centre. And I was surprised he started with 'Feed My Frankenstein' and even more surprised that the monster didn't really enter the stage, just briefly appeared next to the towers and then vanished again, probably because the venue had a policy against using monsters on stage for entertainment purposes, as they do everywhere with animals now, which is why you won't see Alice with the snake anymore, not in this country at least (I have this on very good authority). This was followed by 'No More Mr Nice Guy', another well-known song from the 'Billion Dollar Babies' album that I was surprised turned up so early, where he once again dispensed his cane to a lucky member of the audience. We then had two of the new additions to the set; 'Bed Of Nails' followed by 'Raped And Freezin'', the former being a favourite of mine while the latter I don't think I have ever seen him play live. Then 'Muscle Of Love' and I started to think I had been time shifted back to the seventies. Really, it was an older Cooper fans heaven, but there was still more, as after doing 'My Stars' from 'School's Out' (which is another one I cannot recall seeing him play live) and leaving the stage to change, the band came up with 'Devil's Food' from 'Welcome To My Nightmare', and we even had a touch of 'Black Juju' playing under Glen Sobel's drum solo. On Alice's return, 'He's Back (The Man Behind The Mask)' was brought out for an airing, and I was very happy to see 'Dead Babies' back in the set, and just loved the giant baby skipping across the stage with Alice's guillotined head in his hand during 'I Love The Dead'.

Once again, the godfather of shock rock did the business. The newly added songs to the set have definitely refreshed things, and the energy he puts into it despite his years is quite remarkable. You get out of breath just watching him and you have to always be alert or you will miss something. If you haven't seen him yet, do so at the first opportunity.

Years Ago, Nightmare Castle (Intro), Feed My Frankenstein, No More Mr. Nice Guy, Bed Of Nails, Raped And Freezin', Fallen In Love, Muscle Of Love, He's Back (The Man Behind the Mask), Eighteen, Billion Dollar Babies, Poison, (Nita Strauss Guitar Solo), Roses On White Lace, My Stars, Devil's Food (instrumental), Black Widow Jam (instrumental, inc 'Black Juju' drum solo), Steven, Dead Babies, I Love The Dead, Escape, Teenage Frankenstein, Encore, Under My Wheels, School's Out (incorporating Another Brick in the Wall )

Review and photos by Andy Brailsford.

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