Image by: Doug Peters /
Concert Reviews

Concert Review: Alice Cooper doesn’t play golf at night.

Roger Bowie

West Auckland was out in force at the Trust’s Arena last night for a raucous night of great rock, crowned by the man himself, Ol’ Black Eyes Alice Cooper, with an expert band and a stage show of shock rock pantomime which has been his staple diet for nearly 50 years.

The years peeled back, and I’m Eighteen again.

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Image: Doug Peters /

But what a line-up: Kicking off the jams were the 50-year celebrants of the legendary Detroit rockers and forerunners of punk, the MC5.

MC5 burst onto the scene in the late 60’s out of Detroit, with a frenetic rock sound and a staunch political persona. Their first album, released in 1969, a live recording called Kick out the Jams, viewed retrospectively,has me scrambling to think about who the fuck sounded like that in those days. The Who were doing Tommy in 1969; The Stones were Let(ing) it Bleed; Deep Purple were still doing covers.  MC5 on stage upstaged many a supergroup, including leaving Cream “vanquished” on one memorable night.

Wayne Kramer led the band, which also included his high school buddy Fred “Sonic” Smith, later to be known as Mr Patti Smith.

Tonight they are the MC50s, a veritable supergroup comprising founding member Kramer, looking very lithe and youthful for his 71 years, along with Soundgarden’s Kim Thayil on guitar; Fugazi’s Brendan Canty on drums, Faith No More’s Billy Gould on bassand Zen Guerrilla’s powerful vocalist Marcus Durant.

7pm sharp, with the stadium still empty, and on comes the recorded intro to the original album, with Kramer stepping in to voice over the exhortations to revolt. And then the music. Much, much better today than it sounded back then! Heavy, tight and clear.

Sound guys are doing a great job tonight!

The MC50s rock us through a 7-song set comprising songs from Kick out the Jams and the second album Back in the USA. There’s not much punk here, just relentlessly hard rock with a touch of the blues. Magic! These guys are headliners!

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The MC50s. Image: Doug Peters /

 MC50s Setlist

  1. Rambling Rose
  2. Kick Out the Jams
  3. Come Together
  4. Motor City’s Burning
  5. Tonight
  6. Call me Animal
  7. Looking at You


Airbourne are next, bringing an Aussie/DC revival of thrash rock at breakneck speed. High energy, classic rock. Deep Purple, Iron Maiden.

These guys are world class at what they do, supporting all the majors, including The Stones, and recently recording with Dave Cobb in Nashville. I wonder what the big country suits in Music Row thought of that!

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Airbourne. Image: Doug Peters /

The temperature in the stadium rises in tune with the sound. It’s getting hot and loud.

Vocalist and guitarist Joel O’Keefe is here to party and dressed for the weather. No shirt, and a bunch of denim around his waist which is joined to his legs by holes. Halfway through he does a streak through the audience, well, almost a streak, but the security guys can’t catch him, and he thanks the world of technology for bringing him wi-fi which allows him to keep playing while on the sprint.

And, in stark contrast to last Saturday when someone threw a bottle of beer at The Stranglers, this time it’s the singer throwing beer at the audience. Well, tossing is a better word, to those punters who stand up with their partners on their shoulders. What is amazing is that the (plastic) cups of beer are actually caught by the punters with beer still inside! Not once, but twice! Rock ‘n Roll!!

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Airborne. Image: Doug Peters /

Airbourne Setlist

  1. Ready to Rock
  2. Boneshaker
  3. Burnout the Nitro
  4. Back in the Game
  5. Girls in Black
  6. Live it Up
  7. Runnin’ Wild


There are six or seven Alice Coopers in the audience tonight. Seven that I can see, anyway. Now I know why the show is way out west. Alice understands his demographic!!

So here we are, in the grounds of the Nightmare Castle, all medieval and menacing. It’s carnival time, if not carnal.

And here he is, no longer wasted, more like…….”waisted”……but hey, that happens to us all of a certain age. He still looks fit, must be working out with Kramer, and his voice, never a perfect voice, is still eminently capable of playing its part in front of a shit-hot band doing extreme credit to the songs of the 70s. 

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Image: Doug Peters /

Not only waisted, but also costumed, and watch his every move, and watch everyone else as well, because you never know what’s going to emerge from the depths of the Nightmare Castle.

What was once shocking is now unadulterated fun and entertainment. We’re too old to be shocked by a stage show. So it’s through smiles rather than grimaces that we enjoy the great showman put on his villain persona, even if the subject matter is sometimes borderline and most un-Christian. It’s a show, and even the man above loves rock ‘n roll.

Feed my Frankenstein because he’s right behind you Alice, get out of the way. But hang on, it’s a song about libido, let the big guy lumber off, because I’m  No More Mr Nice Guy, especially when I’m lying on my Bed of Nails, Raped and Freezing.

Yes, well, let’s not go there, let’s just follow Alice the Knave, Alice the Matador, Alice on harp, Alice on maracas, Alice the swordsman, the fencer, Alice with the riding whip.The only weapon not on show is a golf club, because this Alice hates golf, and daytime Alice doesn’t trust him with a golf club in case it becomes a murderous weapon.

Alright, eyes off Alice for a moment, that’s if you’ve been able to take your eyes of blond Amazon Nina Strauss in the first place, strutting and tossing and all over the stage. Guitarist of the decade, yes, that’s an award, but one tough lady. She’ll break your neck with a blow of her nose. That’s why they call her “Hurrricane”. Stop looking at her, look at Alice!

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Image: Doug Peters /

And spare a moment to take in the rest of the band. Glen Sobel, theatrical and frenetic on drums (another award winner). Chuck Garric on bass, and Tommy Henriksen on rhythm, and backing vocals. And finally Ryan Roxie, also guitar and vocals. (Wins the stage name award)

No wonder Alice calls this his “best band ever”

And please don’t look at the young girl who appears from nowhere (is she a fan?) and manages to get up to the ramparts. Don’t look, close your eyes, and you won’t see her awfully dastardly end…

Because we are all Poison, says Alice, Roses on White Lace and who is that gorgeous damsel in distress, white dress bloodied as she tries, in vain to escape the murderous villain with the dark eyes. How to murder your wife, acted out in glorious technicolour, because that’s who she is, Mrs Cooper (Sheryl Goddard) in real and stage life.

Oh, I get it, it’s a family show….

Strauss does Satriani, Roxie does a Slash. Band solos while Alice takes a slash. Or a shower. Or maybe what he used to do in the bad old days? Behave yourself Bowie……..

Because he’s back, Ol’ Black Eyes is back, and the Straitjacket Fits. Fiddling with a baby, finally being caught, and then, well, let’s just say the whole thing is brilliantly executed, Dead Babies or no dead babies.

Here he is now, not resurrected, but still in his straitjacket, a Phantom of the Popera. Teenage Frankenstein is back, to tell us it’s almost over….

But of course, there’s an encore, led by the Department of Youth, before School’s Out Forever, just as it was for me way back in 1971 when the song hit the charts.

And who is that scraggly haired guitarist who joins the band? None other than Davey Johnstone, on leave from Elton to re-join his old boss.

Carnival time, rampant balloons. Alice cutting and hooking and slicing with a long-blade knife. That’s it, Alice, get all those swings out of the way before golf tomorrow.

Because there will be a tomorrow, and once you are out of purgatory, it’s: Ok, where’s the first tee?

Go see Alice Cooper, Airbourne and the MC50s tomorrow night, Saturday Feb 22nd, in Christchurch. Not to be missed.


  1. Feed my Frankenstein
  2. No More Mr Nice Guy
  3. Bed of Nails
  4. Raped and Freezin’
  5. Fallen in Love
  6. Under My Wheels
  7. Muscle of Love
  8. He’s Back (The Man Behind the Mask)
  9. I’m Eighteen
  10. Billion Dollar babies
  11. Poison
  12. Guitar solos
  13. Roses on White Lace
  14. My Stars
  15. Devil’s Food
  16. Black Widow Jam
  17. Steven
  18. Dead Babies
  19. I Love the Dead
  20. Escape
  21. Teenage Frankenstein
  22. Department of Youth
  23. School’s Out
Written By: Roger Bowie Roger Bowie has been collecting music since 1964, starting with 45 rpm singles, and then building an LP and CD collection from 1970. 1.8 per week since then. Not a vast collection, but eclectic and occasionally obscure. Roger is a big Americana fan, and regularly attends AmericanaFest in Nashville, held every September. Also, he once played golf with Alice Cooper...

What people are saying

  • nicole - 11 months ago

    you owe me $10