It’s Halloween and tonight the undead walk the streets of Camden, we leave Chalk Farm underground to the shrieks of a young bunch of school girls being chased by a blood splattered corpse. The zombies walking the streets tonight outnumber us, but that’s too be expected, it’s Halloween and Alice Cooper is in town. After finding the roundhouse (not hard) we waited in the queue I couldn’t resist talking a picture of a walking zombie, mistake one, getting the attention of the undead. She was keen that I eat some of the large bone she’d found pushing it towards my mouth, I resisted, I’d only just eaten and I was kind of full. She walked on stumbling into others in the queue. Other members of the walking undead were less passive and shrieked in any ears that they could see. Tapping on the windows of passing buses, waving at cars and queueing for money at bank machines. I guess the undead need beer money too.
Inside the halloween entertainment continues and at the top of the stairs we have two ladies with snakes posing for photographs. Inside the (performance area) circus compere Jim Rose greeted the crowd. First up Jim phones Madison Square Garden to leave a message on their answer phone consisting of an audience chant of “Alice Cooper is in London tonight – demonic laugh and optional swear word ” and then the circus begins. Folk sticking metal though their bodies and then using it to lift barrels of beer, or attaching feathers to their arms by poking them through their skin, ouch, don’t try that at home.
Way back in 1988 I thought that Zodiac Mindwarp was about as cool as you could get – his tape Tattooed Beat Messiah sat next to Crazy Nights by Kiss and 1987 by Whitesnake as my three most played cassettes – I thought he was so cool that I wrote him a letter to say so – he replied by sending me a signed photograph with “Will is my Turkey.. Zodiac” written on it. Whatever that meant I knew it must be cool. But, despite over 20 years of going to gigs tonight was the first time I’d see him live – and he didn’t disappoint. Hearing the likes of Prime Mover live for the first time were tops – with some great guitar work and enormous stage presence from Cobalt Stargazer. I make a mental note to buy his new CD on departure, and then forget. Will find it online instead.
In the interlude Jim Rose with his horror circus is back – the performers tonight having auditioned in front of Alice at the London Dungeon some months ago for the opportunity to display their bizarre talents. We also have the nominated 10 who have been judged as wearing the best costumes on stage for a cheer’ometer contest before they throw darts aimed at a dark board on a brave soul’s back, one misses and goes straight into his backside – ouch. A zombie won costume competition – he’s clearly been putting on the make up for some time.
After a short pause and raising of Alice’s curtain the background music stopped, lights dimmed, the school bells ring and showtime. Alice opened with Schools Out, blinding everyone as the curtain drops to the well lit stage, the band in corpse paint tonight, and the venue in full Halloween sing along party atmosphere – and how can you not sing along to School’s Out? Followed quickly with No More Mr Nice Guy, and I’m Eighteen Alice storms around with more energy than some singers half his age engaging with everyone in the crowd, classic after classic rocks the roundhouse.
It’s taken me years to like the song Poison – I think it was the contrast between the hard rock Trash and the metal Raise Your Fist and Yell records, but over many Alice gigs its warmed on me – where it never fails is everyone’s hands in the air.
As usual for an Alice show he is killed in various ways – hanged, beheaded and impaled, each time returning from the dead. Alice’s stage dancers perform various acts of macabre, one shooting sparks across the stage by pushing a grinder into her groin. But the stage show theatrics aren’t there to make up for any shortfalls in the music – the songs, all of which now sounds like a classics, stand up for themselves and the excellent band are tight.
You turn round to try and head for the bar and your confronted with a jolly butcher, apron covered drenched in blood, you navigate past a witch, confront a demon, all the way pushing past the swaying zombies whilst Alice performs Go To Hell. Some concert experiences you have to experience for yourself.
Last weekend Steve Steinman’s Vampire’s Rock, and now Alice’s Theatre of Death – Halloween doesn’t get much better than this!