A week with the Alice Cooper Group
I'm still behind with some blogs but this one can't wait. I just spent the most amazing week. Five shows with the solo Alice Cooper set up but with a mini set at the end with the surviving original band members of Alice Cooper, the band, not the solo artist.
The first show was in Leeds. As expected it was emotional, a little more that I expected in fact, but it shouldn’t be a surprise. Ten years ago almost to the day when I saw Led Zeppelin play, it was also intense and crazy, but it took a good 15 minutes to get into it and believe what was happening. Also at the O2 the sound was really bad at least at first. Not so in Leeds, it was brilliant and the lights were fantastic as well.
The minute the first note of the original group sounded I was in tears, it’s so immediately recognisable and hearing the original sound is incredible. I think even Alice acts differently than in his solo setting.
Glasgow was just as brilliant. Great spot and good company. It was a nice touch that once the members of the current band bowed they left the original guys to bow once more. Funny little moment was that after Alice dedicated that show to Glen Buxton and everyone left, the curtain in the background caught fire. We had to gesture and scream for about 30 seconds before anyone noticed. Everyone believes this was Glen’s spirit playing a trick on us.
Birmingham was the place of a signing session with Dennis Dunaway which was fabulous, lots of friends and a tiny record shop it was a fun two hours to spend. I had my playing card signed by Dennis and Cindy (Dennis' wife).
The show the next day was great, the audience was much livelier than the other nights. We enjoyed ourselves but it was marred by a really bad moment when our tickets showed not to be valid! Mine said it had been refunded! Turns out the promoters thought it was nicer for them to sell our seat at maximum value (the VIP’s had to pay £500.-) and pretend ours never happened. The venue was very helpful and let us in to the side of the first row and even let us stand near the middle during the show. So the view was great but I must say the stress got the better of me despite efforts to stay calm and my energy had gone. At least it allowed my to concentrate on taking photos, you can see a selection in this post.
Manchester was amazing, the best night for me as I had possibly the best place in the whole hall, and I also got to get another card signed by Michael Bruce.
If there is one good thing that came out of the awful tragedy that took place there earlier this year, it's that security is very professional and efficient. Security in the UK had gone down to a really dangerous level in the past years, so this was good to see, even if the armed guards outside the venue were both unnerving and reassuring.
London was a big fiasco also, mostly because the venue had really not organised things well. If you let people stand in the aisles, which is ok up the a certain point I think, but it means people should play fair and it wasn't the case, there was way too much selfishness involved and that's not what rock and roll is to me. I mean if the show is fully standing you can at least move or stand your ground if someone tries to take your space but it's not possible when you are stuck into a row of chairs. I spent most of the show trying to fight off some idiot who figured it was ok to treat me like a piece of furniture and constantly move, not just in front of me, but into my space and push and hit me all the time, I hit back of course but it meant I couldn't watch what was going on most of the time. And the sad part is that this show was filmed for a video release apparently, so I hope they did’t catch the disgruntled expression I wore for most of the show.
But to continue on a positive note, this trip has been amazing and I’m feeling the familiar feeling of nostalgia and post tour blues. Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined this. It’s what I told Michael Bruce when I met him, and that seeing the group together again was one of the biggest dreams come true of my life. Even bigger than seeing Led Zeppelin ten years ago.
I though that the idea of having both bands play the same show was fabulous. I love the current band and the chemistry they have, and they are incredible. But no matter what, when you hear the original sound of the people who wrote the older songs it’s something else. That’s a phrase I said many times this week.
Rather than type up boring details I will sum up a few things about why this will always be my favourite band in the world. There is that one other band that got my attention and inspired me when I was younger, mentioned above and starting with Z. But this love has faded a little, it’s still here but not as strong. But with the ACG the love story will never end.
When I first discovered Alice Cooper around 1990 there was no internet. So I looked for information in magazines and bought what ever VHS tapes I could find, but nothing showed the original group. Then each year during my holiday, I found some really crappy VHS at the flea market in Camden and spent hours watching the old tapes, some had no sound and in most cases you could barely see a thing, but it was like the Holy Grail. One day I came across a pile of gold, old magazines from the 70's and I finally learned a bit more about the History behind the music.
I think that one of the reasons I am so passionate about these groups is that I never found this in my life and I've been missing it very much. They are so lucky to have found each other. Sure I had friends who wanted to create something and make projects and big plans. But they never followed through. I'm not like that I am totally obsessed by ideas and projects, I really wanted to make these big things but it took a long time and I also had to work on my own which isn't the same as when you can feed off the imagination of a like minded human.
So when I see people who found this I am bit envious but I also get to live this dream through them.
The cross pollination. The moment when you discover the one thing that will inspire you for the rest of your life. When I realised how art was an intricate part of the creative process in the ACG I knew I had found what I had been looking for all my life. I had the same ideas about art, about telling stories and making props and theatre backdrops. And these guys had done it and gone as far as you can possibly go.
This is also why I had to pay a tribute to this group that influenced me so much, and why I did my playing card project a few years ago. Plus they make for really cool souvenirs once signed: