Alice Cooper brought his Halloween Night of Fear tour to the Manchester Apollo last night, putting on a highly theatrical, camp and utterly fantastic stage show.
Before the glam rock icon took to the stage, pre-punk pioneers New York Dolls put on a solid, if slightly under whelming, support slot that was noteworthy for name value more than the actual performance.
A huge banner with Alice Cooper's face dropped in front of the stage as it was set up for the headline act, until eventually it was time for those in attendance at Manchester Apollo to see their hero.
It was a live show that rivals any other in the world, Cooper managing to constantly connect to a capacity crowd without ever speaking in between songs.
By this stage in his career, he knows the Alice Cooper character inside out, and plays it wonderfully, revelling in its tongue-in-cheek, shock-rock campness.
Proving that pyrotechnics and lasers aren't the be-all and end-all of an epic rock show, Cooper began the night with 'Black Widow' at the top of a high gallery on stage, wearing a leather jacket with three spider's legs attached, as he assumed the title role.
From here, the show became unpredictable and varied, with Alice even proving on songs like 'I'm Eighteen' that the over-the-top theatrics aren't something he has to rely on for every song.
They were actually rather sparse throughout the first half of the show, largely limited to a crutch or his trusty canes.
Never taking himself too seriously, a costume change before 'I'll Bite Your Face Off' (the only song taken from Cooper's latest record) saw the rocker return to the stage with a leather jacket bearing the words "New Song" on the back.
It was a nice touch, given the absence of any patter in-between songs.
A haunting cover of 'Only Women Bleed' saw Alice sitting on a trash can, before serenading a "corpse".
For any other performer, it would be a bit too cliched, but Cooper made it work, moving the doll around as if it was the corpse of a lover, ending the song in a disturbing embrace and kiss.
It was here that the theatrics really began, as Cooper assumed the role of a mad scientist before a 20-foot Frankenstein's Monster roamed the stage.
'Wicked Young Man' even saw a "photographer" run on stage to get some press shots, leading to a shoving contest with Alice as the two exchanged harsh words.
Holding him at a cane's-length, Cooper lurched forward, "stabbing" the photographer and revealing it to be part of the act - something that came across extremely well, as the "photographer" had appeared for a few seconds earlier in the show, running on stage for a quick picture.
The crowd lapped up every moment, even cheering during the next song as Alice was beheaded by a guillotine.
After ending the main set with a glorious sing-a-long of 'School's Out', Cooper and his band (all fantastic musicians in their own right) returned for an over-the-top, beautifully camp performance of 'Elected'.
It saw the last of many costume changes, Cooper racing onto the stage in a silver suit and top hat, waving a giant Union Jack.
It concluded one of the best live shows this reviewer has ever seen, Alice Cooper showing a lot more energy than a man of his age perhaps should.
The theatrics were well-placed and completely over the top, making for a show feeling more like an excellent piece of theatre than your typical rock show.
Female First - Alistair McGeorge
Tagged in Alice Cooper