Alice Cooper tour Night of Fear with the New York Dolls review and pictures

Posted on 31 October 2011
By Andrew Knightly & Danni Pugh
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Such are the rewards of rocking a career into its fifth decade that the iconic image of Alice Cooper is deeply ingrained within the modern psyche.

Show your average Joe on the street a photograph of Cooper’s disgruntled pandaesque mug, and they would most likely be able to link it to, at the very least School’s Out.

It seems mainly due to this collective acknowledgement of Cooper that tonight’s Night of Fear at a packed Manchester O2 Apollo, sees such an eclectic bunch huddled together under one roof, from your generic heavy metal kids to your greasy aged rocker patrons downstairs, and couples in the upper circles dressed like they’re ready for a night in the West End. Which I later come to understand, is not actually too far from the truth.

This melting pot of individuals however, does not save the New York Dolls from being met with a sea of general disinterest, and one has to question what these guys are doing on the bill, sharing a venue, sonically well suited for the anthemic hard rock to come, but otherwise lost on the relatively thin protopunk sound of the NY Dolls that would be much better suited in a more intimate environment.

The NY Dolls however fight the good fight tearing through classics such as Pills and Trash as well as throwing in a few new tracks from their 2011 album Dancing Backwards in High Heels. In between songs David Johansen exercises a witty and affable banter between his band mates and the audience, culminates in a Happy Birthday singalong for drummer Brian Delanely.

Despite this brief flirtation with audience participation, the crowd returns to their indifference and when the Dolls walk off stage, it’s Sylvain Sylvain, the only other surviving member from the original lineup, that has to coax the audience into chanting for an encore.

By this time not even Personality Crisis is enough to rouse the congregation from its apathy, and as The New York Dolls leave the stage for good, one cannot help but feel, that a band largely responsible for creating a scene that spawned the likes of The Ramones, Blondie and The Talking Heads, have not been paid their dues. Everyone is here to see one man only.

After a brief interlude and hugely enthusiastic shift of attitude, the giant black cloth portraying that so well known a menacing face, obscuring the stage, falls down to reveal Alice Cooper in all his glory, on top of a 15 foot podium, sporting a delightfully rubbish, B movie-esque spider outfit that is reminiscent of something out of an Ed Wood film.

Ploughing through Black Widow, Cooper joins his cronies down on the stage, who are a visual mix of The Hills Have Eyes and the gay fraternity of The Blue Oyster Bar seen in The Police Academy movies.

Third song in we see 1970‘s juvenile delinquent anthem I’m Eighteen, to which Cooper whirls a crutch wildly around his head.

Now I’m not 100% on the symbolic relationship between the two here, but I’m pretty sure that he’s implying all 18-year-olds are a bit mentally wobbly and unsound, and judging by the roar of the crowd singing back at him: “. . . and I LIKE IT!!” I’m assuming that both the older, as well as the younger element of tonight’s audience advocate this opinion.

Blazing through his extensive catalogue of classics, including No More Mr Nice Guy and Hey Stupid, there is a sense of deliberate shambolic theatre here, perhaps a nod towards the golden age long before CGI, when everything was DIY.

Indeed, the majority of the props and costumes look like they have been constructed by some semi incompetent mates with a basic knowledge of papier mâché, and the pyrotechnics are essentially a pack of sparklers. But it all adds to the charm of the evening and with Feed My Frankenstein seeing the emergence of a meandering, 12 foot monster stumble around the stage like an drunk teenager, one cannot help but feel a longing for such a wonderfully wonky era.

Poison of course seals the deal, and the crowd is in a rapturous frenzy of murder and mayhem as Cooper takes out an over zealous photographer with a large sword and generally causes a nuisance.

This is of course duly reciprocated, whilst during a School’s Out/Another Brick In The Wall medley, hooded goons roll on a guillotine, accost Mr Cooper and promptly decapitate him, much to the joy of the crowd.

This wasn’t so much a rock show, but more a heavy metal musical with no plot, all wonderfully orchestrated and conducted by the godfather of shock rock.

Oh, and at the end when Cooper comes back from the dead to play I Wanna Be Elected, there were also some balloons, how twee. SCHOOLS OUT MANCHESTER.