The master of Shock Rock, Alice Cooper, is back in Australia and he (unlike many other big acts) has made his way to Canberra. Joining him as support for the night is former Kiss alumnus, guitarist Ace Frehley with his band.

The venue is the AIS Arena-  not generally the best live gig venue of Canberra – but its getting a good number of patrons heading in as Sentinel Daily editor Scott Adams and I make our way to the venue. While we are lined up to obtain a beverage, we hear Ace Frehley kick off his set. This is disappointing as it takes about 20 minutes to grab a beer and we have missed around 10 minutes of his set. A bit surprising, especially as there are only around six hundred people here at this time (more bar staff please AIS).

Ace Frehley warms up the crowd nicely, running through about fourteen songs. There is a good range from solo works, covers and about nine Kiss hits including the likes of Love Gun, Shock Me and Detroit Rock City.  The smallish crowd rocks out to the very tight set by the former Kiss star, and Frehley encourages the crowd to sing along throughout the set. Obviously, they’re not loud enough as he tells the crowd with good nature that his ‘grandmother sings louder than that’…

But it is Alice the crowd is here to see and numbers have built up steadily during Ace Frehley’s set and now all the seating around the sides looks to be taken as well as a good crowd on the floor. The backdrop of Alice’s eyes complete with spider in the pupils lights up and the excitement builds. Alice kicks off his set with the very underrated Brutal Planet that sets the tone for the night and gets the crowd grooving along. He has well-practised little theatrics, like tossing his cane into the crowd, taking the ultimate star pose and as a result has the crowd completely in the palm of his hand within the first song. While he may be one of our senior rockers, he certainly shows a lot of the younger generation how to put on a show.

Alice Cooper

Alice takes us through a selection of his hits that he has had throughout the decades including No More Mr Nice Guy, Department of Youth, Poison, Billion Dollar Babies and Only Women Bleed.  Some of the tracks are rarer songs that only part of the crowd are familiar with like The World Needs Guts and Halo of Flies. He delivers them all in a strong, gruff vocal style that has the whole crowd singing along with him. Ably supported by one of his best bands that both Scott and I have seen for a long time and they look to be having just as much fun as him up on stage. They drive a crunching sound and deliver some great work themselves when the spotlight is given to them.  Nita Strauss puts on a shredding guitar solo that has the crowd cheering her along, and there is also a pounding drum solo by Glenn Sobel being some of the highlights.

An Alice Cooper show is always a theatrical event and tonight is no different. A range of stage props including electric chambers, naughty nurses, a Frankenstein-like monster himself running around stage singing and Alice losing his head in the guillotine are some of the hi jinks that ensue.  The night is brought to an end by a high energy rendition of School’s Out that incorporates Pink Floyd’s Another Brick in The Wall  seamlessly and the Canberra crowd heads home happy, having seen one of the masters at work.

Spend a Night with Alice Cooper Setlist:
Brutal Planet
No More Mr. Nice Guy
Under My Wheels
Department of Youth
Billion Dollar Babies
The World Needs Guts
Woman of Mass Distraction
Nita Strauss Guitar Solo
Halo of Flies
Feed My Frankenstein
Cold Ethyl
Only Women Bleed
Paranoiac Personality
Ballad of Dwight Fry
I Love the Dead
I’m Eighteen
Schools Out