Alice Cooper w/Hanoi Rocks live at Tampere, FINLAND

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06.08 2005 Ice Hall TAMPERE, FINLAND

Review and pictures by Marko Syrjala

After a couple of years’ break, Alice Cooper brings his rock n roll circus back to Finland. He recently released a new album called “Dirty Diamonds,” He’s been on tour supporting that album since last June. When Alice Cooper last visited Finland, it was 2001, and he was playing at the Ice Hall in Helsinki. There were less than 3000 people in the audience, and the place was half empty, so I was more than pleasantly surprised when I heard that this show was completely sold out, and it means that almost 6000 people saw this show.

Finnish glam band Hanoi Rocks was supporting Alice in Tampere.  Right from the beginning, it was clear that they were more than just a support band because It was outstanding to see that there were so many Hanoi Rocks fans in the audience. 

The band opened up with the new track “Back In Your Face,” and then they played a 60-minute set, which mostly contained tracks from their two reunion albums, “Twelve Shots On The Rocks” and “Another Hostile Takeover.” They also did some old classics like “Tragedy,” “High School,” and “Up Around The Bend.” The band seemed to have a great time, and the sound was quite good, but there was a slight problem because their lightning system was too small for this size venue, and for that reason, it sometimes appeared that the band was playing on a completely dark stage. Otherwise, this was a good show, and the band did a solid job. Especially guitarists Andy McCoy and Conny Bloom were in a really good mood, and there was nothing wrong with the rest of the band either. I hope that their new album will be released in the rest of the world soon (now it’s only out in Finland and Japan), and they could finally do a proper worldwide tour and show what they are made of?

Hanoi Rocks is having a good time in Tampere.

When the Hanoi show was over, there was a 30-minute break before the Alice show started. Suddenly the lights go off, and the band, dressed almost entirely in black, is prepared on stage, and it’s time to go !!

The show started with a surprising opening track, “Department of Youth” (Welcome To My Nightmare 1975). Much better known as “No More Mr. Nice Guy”(Billion Dollar Babies 1973), another gem followed immediately. The crowd seemed to enjoy themselves at this point, but when the next song, “Dirty Diamonds,” the title track from the latest Coop album, was played, it became clear that only a few people even knew that there was a new album out. On the other hand, it must be said that I didn’t get why they played that explicit track because it’s one of the weakest songs on that album?  Anyway, things got much better when a famous opening riff of the classic “Billion Dollar Babies” (Billion Dollar Babies 1973) started to sound from the speakers. Alice always had loads of “dollars,” with Alice Cooper’s face in the middle, which he threw into the audience. “Be My Lover” (Killer 1972) then continued the series of classics from the seventies.

“Lost In The America” (Last Temptation 1994) was one of the very few tracks played from Alice’s 90?s period. Once again, I was hoping for some other song, but this is from that album. How about playing “Sideshow” instead of this quite silly and simple rocker? All in all, this was one of the weakest songs on tonight’s set. The rarely played beautiful ballad “I Never Cry” (From The Inside 1978) appealed especially to the female audience, and there were lots of lighters twinkling around the hall. Ironically the next song was “Woman Of Mass Destruction” (Dirty Diamonds 2005). Unlike the title track, this one is brilliant and proves that Alice can write great rocking songs. This song is an appropriate mix of seventies Cooper and today’s rock music a’la Hellacopters and Hives (!). Classic stuff.

“I’m Eighteen” (Love It To Death 1971) doesn’t need much introduction here because it’s maybe the best-known Alice Cooper song of all time, but the next two, “Between High School and High School” and “What Do You Want From Me,” (both from excellent “Eyes Of Alice Cooper, 2003), unfortunately, appeared to be almost unknown for the most of the people. It’s sad when an artist like Alice, who has sold millions of records in 70?s and even in the 80?s, still releases excellent albums, and yet, only a handful of people are buying those because their new songs are not played in a radio or TV…

“Is It My Body” (Love It To Death 1971) and “Go To Hell” (Alice Cooper Goes To Hell 1976) proceeded with a more familiar and secure setlist. ?The Black Widow? (Welcome To My Nightmare 1975) It was an entirely instrumental version, but despite that, it sounded pretty good, and it was great to see all band members (Ryan Roxie, Damon Johnson, Chuck Garrick, and Eric Singer) having a good time on stage. After the middle part of the song, it changed to Eric’s drum solo, which sounded good. Usually, drum solos, as well as guitar, etc. solos, are just dull waste of time, and during the solo, it’s a good moment to spend a few Euros on a beer or two in the nearest restaurant, but this time I stayed and watched the whole thing. I think that more than just a few people here came to the show to see Eric play, or was it my imagination? As everyone knows, Eric also plays with KISS, and maybe for that reason, there were many KISS fans in the audience. Technically and visually, he’s one of the best drummers around, and he got rewarded with massive applause from the crowd during the solo.

“Gimme” (Brutal Planet 2000) was the only song presenting Alice’s “heaviest” period, and “Feed My Frankenstein” (Hey Stoopid 1991) was the second song from the early 90?s pop-rock epoch. “Welcome To My Nightmare” (Welcome To My Nightmare 1975) started the kind of medley of four tracks from that album. Starting from “The Awakening,” “Steven,” “Only Women Bleed,” Alice started to do some of his classic theatrics on stage. When “Ballad Of The Dwight Fry” (Love It To Dead 1971) started, he was “forced” to wear a straitjacket, and during the next song, “Killer” (Killer 1972), he rescued and tried then to “kill” a nurse with a knife but failed this time. Alice had to be punished, and it was time to get the famous guillotine on stage.

“I Love The Dead” (Billion Dollar Babies 1973) started, and soon Alice was executed with a guillotine. A cruel-looking executioner was holding his loose, bloody head in front of the audience. But as everyone guessed, this wasn’t the end of Alice Cooper. Ryan Roxie soon started to play the opening riff of “School’s Out” (School’s Out 1972), and then Alice “woke up from the dead, and” he was back in action as dressed in a completely white dress and top silk hat. The proper set was then over, and the audience started to wait for encores to start. Altogether this last 40 minutes or something was just the same classic show and tricks that Alice has used since his heydays in the early 70?s but it is still working very well. Alice’s daughter Calico, who performed various roles from nurse to executioner during the show, must be given special mention. If I remember right, she was just recently got quite a good role from some big-budget horror movie? At least she has got good training for that kind of role every night.

It’s strange that even though Alice enjoyed huge success in the early seventies and he then sold millions of records, but his most significant commercial success happened in 1989 when he released the album “Trash.” “Trash,” primarily because of worldwide hits “Poison” and “Bed Of Nails,” sold millions of copies, and briefly, Alice was again ruling all charts and sales across the globe. When encores finally started with “Poison,” it is evident that it almost positively caused a riot in the audience. Everyone was singing that famous chorus and having a good time. It was funny to see that some younger people only recognized this one song during the whole concert. In a way, it was a pity that “Poison” was the only track played from “Trash” because there is a lot of good stuff on that album. On the other hand, “Poison” was only a track from the 80?s period, and at least I was waiting for something from Constrictor or Raise Your Fist And Yell albums as well.

The second encore, “I Wish I Were Born In Beverly Hills” (From The Inside 1978), was completely different. I’m not sure if this song has ever been played live before, and once again, most people didn’t seem to know what it was, but it was another highlight of the show for me. I always like surprises on the setlist, and this was the first (and only) genuine surprise on tonight’s set. Great song and good choice!

The last and final encore was “Under My Wheels” (Killer 1972). Giant air balloons were thrown at the audience, and when people pushed them back to Alice, he pierced balloons with a small sword one after another until they are were blown up. Once the song was finished, the whole band came to the front of the stage, and together they bowed, and then they threw guitar picks, drumsticks, and some other stuff for the people, and then the show was over.

The summary of the show would be something like that. Visually it was good. There was great looking lighting system and the simple white backdrop, and there was a pair of huge Alice’s eyes in the middle, was looking good. Classic theatrics and effects were used as Alice always does, even it must be said that this time there wasn’t as much stuff as there has been on the past tours. I have seen “Brutal Planet,” “Dragontown,” “Trash,” and “Hey Stoopid” tours, and there have always been loads of more stuff and effects on stage compared to what we saw tonight. Musically this was an excellent gig. The band, guitarists Ryan Roxie and Damon Johnson, bassist Chuck “sideburns” Garrick, and drummer Eric Singer were tight, all good performers on stage. The setlist was a kind of best-of-set compiled from many various albums and periods, and there were a couple of surprises like “I Wish I Were Born In Beverly Hills” and “Department Of Youth” included. As I said before, there were many songs I would have liked to hear, but when these guys are now doing 27 (!) songs, you can’t ask too much more, or could you? Still … briefly, some more stuff from the 80?s would be an excellent addition, and how about making a couple of more tracks from the new album? Then last but certainly not least, it must be said that Alice himself is in excellent shape, his vocals were as strong and clear as ever, and he was having a great time on stage.

You can’t kill Alice. He will always come back.

Suppose you have a chance to go and check this tour out. You won’t be disappointed!