So I’m going to start off by giving you a bit of background about me. I am a massive KISS fan – they have been and always will be my favourite band. I have their faces tattooed on my left foot. I’ve seen them 9 times since 2014; all over Australia, in Germany and in Prague. Ace Frehley is my favourite member of KISS and I did see him on the 2010 Anomaly Tour. I had the meet and greet for the Melbourne show and met him for the first time then. When the VIP packages were announced for this tour, I purchased one. I felt I needed to say hello to my favourite Space Man again.
So, back to present day.
I got to the venue at 5pm to check in with the VIPs and get my swag of fun stuff included in the Meet and Greet package I purchased for Ace Frehley. With only 30 of us there, the meet and greet was not rushed at all. I had a decent amount of time to speak with Ace who was very relaxed and friendly.
“Nice to see you again, Ace” I said as I sat down.
“Now where have I met you before?” he asked me. The photographer, who had been arranging my items ready for Ace to sign, pointed at my second item: a photograph of myself and Ace in 2010.
Ace laughed and asked me when it was that the photo was taken. I explained it was from the Anomaly tour. He signed all my items; a tour poster, my photograph, another photograph I took myself of Ace onstage during the Anomaly tour and also my 1978 Solo Album Picture Disc.
We posed together for our photograph then had a look at the preview. I asked Ace if he thought this photograph was better than the one from 2010. He thought for a moment and said yes it was. He then held my hand and said “Nice to see you again, Hollee”.
Chuffed and over the moon, I packed up my stuff, thanked the VIP team and went around the front to meet my friends and my sister.
After being a bit frazzled and missing the first two songs (KISS’s ‘Parasite’ from 1974’s Hotter Than Hell, also on Ace Frehley’s latest release Origin’s Volume 1, and my favourite ‘Hard Times’ of Dynasty) – my sister and I finally made it to our seats. ‘2000 Man’ was playing as we squeezed past some fans, clearly just there for Alice Cooper; they weren’t too impressed with our singing along and clapping (although that could have been because we were out of time).
The set list was fun, consisting of a few staples; KISS Klassics such as ‘Love Gun’, ‘Detroit Rock City’ and ‘Deuce’. Scot Coogan (Brides of Destruction), drummer belted out vocals for a few of these while Ace owned his hits ‘Rip it Out’, ‘Rocket Ride’ and ‘Talk to Me’.
It was nice to see original Frehley’s Comet member Richie Scarlet on rhythm guitar (and also some Paul Stanley inspired dance moves from time to time!) and Chris Wyse on bass (Ozzy Osbourne, The Cult).
Crowd favourite was definitely ‘New York Groove’, followed by ‘Shock Me’ which led into Ace’s iconic, literally smoking, guitar solo. He had such a relaxed demeanour throughout all of this onstage, making it all look quite effortless.
The crowd enjoyed Ace, although the atmosphere wasn’t there as much as I would have liked. I think this was mainly due to the audience remaining seated which just wasn’t appropriate for this type of music. I still really enjoyed it and loved watching the band onstage.
Then, it was time for the Man Behind the Mask to take the stage. Now, I will never, ever get tired of watching an Alice Cooper show. I first saw him back in 2005 in Melbourne and met him by absolute chance on the 5th floor of the hotel he was staying at. His daughter, Calico, took our photo. I’ve seen him about 4 or 5 times now and I always am excited, they always put on a good show, his band is so tight and the general theatrics of the show just make me so damn happy. To me, he has always been timeless – you’d never guess he is almost 70 years old and the music always seems relevant.
The stage itself is littered with creepy deformed dolls and is framed nicely by the old proscenium arch of the Thebarton Theatre.
They opened with ‘Brutal Planet’ – the hit song off the album released in 2000 titled with the same name. The crowd were up on their feet before it started and already the atmosphere in the room had changed.
Theatrics were toned down for this tour, but that was OK; it was a solid show without it. They played hits such as ‘No More Mr Nice Guy’ and ‘Billion Dollar Babies’, in which Alice shook off dollar bills from his signature epee into the audience, a nice souvenir for those in the front few rows.
They slammed into the powerful hit ‘The World Needs Guts’ followed by Dirty Diamonds number, ‘Women of Mass Distraction’ in which guitarist Nita Strauss (LA KISS) was favourably highlighted. She then ripped into a shredding guitar solo. My God, she is absolutely awesome and brutal; a perfect fit for Alice Cooper’s band.
Speaking of the band; heading it up at the back on drums was Glen Sobel (SIXX AM) and Tommy Henriksen on guitar. As always it was awesome to see Alice Cooper old timers Chuck Garric on bass and Ryan Roxie on guitar, both of whom have been in the band for 10 plus years.
Then we get into the story behind the show.
‘Feed My Frankenstein’ was definitely one of my highlights of the night with a larger than life Frankenstein’s Alice Monster taking over the stage with Chuck Garric’s dropped down vocals for the last chorus.
Cold Ethyl was flung around the stage Alice danced with her, and he sat down to sing us the ballad that is ‘Only Women Bleed’. Sheryl Cooper, Alice’s wife made her first appearance for the night as a corpse painted ballerina and Ryan Roxie played along with his double neck guitar.
‘Paranoiac Personality’ came up next, a new song from the new album Paranormal. I personally don’t know much from the newer albums, but it is amazing to see what a following Alice still has with young and old. It actually made my night when Chuck Garric singled out a young boy behind us and personally handed him a guitar pick. It is little things like that which we hold with us and remember forever.
‘Ballad of Dwight Fry’ had Alice put into a strait jacket and Sheryl Cooper back onstage as the nurse to administer a syringe in his back.
The band then goes into ‘Killer’, the guillotine is pushed onstage by Alice’s crew who are appropriately dressed in their skeleton blacks. Alice has his head chopped off to cheers from the audience and we follow into the drone sound of ‘I Love the Dead’.
Head intact, but leaning on crutches, Alice comes back onstage for one of my favourite songs of my teenage years, ‘I’m Eighteen’. This brings us to the end of our evening with Alice, but the crowd want more. They finish off with a crowd pleaser that everyone can sing along to, ‘School’s Out’, in which one fan who purchased the VIP experience for Alice came onstage and threw balloons into the audience. Alice stabbed these with his epee covering the audience in streamers, giving a little nod at the end to Pink Floyd’s ‘Another Brick in the Wall’.
All in all, we had a fantastic time. What does make it better is the company you share while at these concerts, so hats off to my sister who shared the evening with me.
Written by Hollee Gunter
Photo credits: Hollee Gunter