Heavy shock and scenic schlock: veteran rocker gets up close and personal.
The onset of this millennium saw another transformation of Alice who came out of his Wonderland dalliance with Hollywood metal to explore the old kind of inner dirt and take it to the future. 2000’s “Brutal Planet” was, and still is, one of the bleakest Cooper’s releases, which found its reflection in the artist’s new stage set and set list, the props outlining a steam-punk landscape and the songs including more than a half cuts from the latest album. Two of those, from the crunchy title track on, open the London concert recorded a month after it was out and preserved now on both DVD and, in a shortened version, CD that’s somehow darker than the visuals as the audio disc omits such classics as “Dead Babies” and “The Black Widow” but focuses on the unexpected inclusions from the Alice canon.
In a different kind of a bad slumber – and here, for the first time in the veteran’s live visual story, Cooper doesn’t explicitly welcomes the listeners to his nightmare and mentions it only in the streamlined clang of “It’s The Little Things” – the singer dusts off fairly obscure curios “It’s Hot Tonight” – in the funk of which Pete Freezin and Ryan Roxie go for a twin-guitar combo – and “Love It To Death” while his regular show is toned down, even though the faithful guillotine and the resurrection cocoon remain. This time anger rules the game running from the relaxed demand of “Gimme” to the cover of “My Generation” with sly romanticism saved for “Poison” only, and the conceptual spectacle begins even before Alice comes up as a last samurai: quite a riveting image in the line of many. Yet Cooper’s belligerence is contrasted by many a funny detail like leather-bounds maracas or every crack of the whip adding up to the rhythmic pandemonium of “Go To Hell” whereas the artist’s ultimate showmanship is revealed in full after his revitalization for the ever-infectious “No More Mr. Nice Guy” in a soon-to-be-ripped-apart white tuxedo instead of erstwhile black outfit.
Now even the least melodic songs like “Wicked Young Man” benefit from the gloomy theatricals that also cover the singer’s latter-day vocal limitations, the fresh context providing a solid link between the past and the present in the coupling of “Only Women Bleed” with “Take It Like A Woman” on the ballad-and-message base, and “I’m Eighteen” restoring its old glory, hung on Greg Smith’s bass and Teddy Andreadis’ piano, in fine sensual detail. These surroundings render Alice’s “pop” hit “Feed My Frankenstein” slightly superficial, albeit this, understandably, elicit rather fervent response from the audience, although not on the “School’s Out” level. That’s the measure of Alice’s tasty, or testy, brutality – arresting to the end.