Gig review: Raise The Dead: Alice Cooper, Edinburgh

THIS was a triple header, with support bands Duff McKagan’s Loaded and the highly entertaining Ugly Kid Joe. Good, but they’re just run-of-the-mill rock bands. We had come to worship Alice Cooper, the king of theatrical shock-rock. Except it didn’t work out that way.

It all started well enough. The charismatic Cooper, silhouetted against a curtain of tumbling sparks, snarled his way through the opening number Hello Hooray.

But hang on a minute. Why is the stage so bare?

Those who have followed Cooper’s fantastic musical extravaganzas over the past 40 years have come to love his lavish stage sets. There has been everything from giant spider webs and dancers to massive beds and broken down fairgrounds. It’s what Cooper does best.

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However, the wide stage was totally vacant, other than the four guitarists who skipped around the vast space trying to look busy. Alice Cooper and an unfurnished stage? It’s unthinkable.

He has always prided himself in wild theatrics that required a set crammed with lorry-loads of props crammed into every square foot of stage. An Alice Cooper gig was a thrilling, theatrical event of jaw-dropping proportions.

For those who had never experienced the hi-energy Cooper before, this would be an outstanding performance by any standard. But for those who expected his menacing and malevolent stage show, it was a huge disappointment.

Even the heavy canvas and leather straitjacket had been replaced by something that looked as though it had been cut from a bed sheet – a pink one.

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Of course, the snake was there, as were the whip and the sword. There was even a huge cheesy Frankenstein. But where there is usually a gallows and executioner, or an electric chair and complex magic illusions there was, eh, nothing. Incredibly, even the famous guillotine didn’t put in an appearance.

Despite the marvellous collection of songs Cooper has produced throughout his long career, we were treated to numbers by The Who, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix and Pink Floyd. Alice does karaoke.

There is no denying that Cooper is an amazing performer, and it all made for a better than average rock concert. But while the audience certainly lapped it up, the real fans would be left with the sad realisation that Alice isn’t scary any more.