Concert review by Geoff Barton
“Well, …. it`s surrealist, innit?” remarked the girl sitting in front of us, eyes open wide, staring at the impressive Empire Pool stage.
Alice has obviously spared no expense for this show: two tall, translucent grey pillars with a thick beam lying on top of them, like a futuristic version of Stonehenge, dominated the platform. In between them was a bed of twisted metal, beside them an over-large toy box, behind them provision had been made for a band. Surrealist indeed.
The Heavy Metal Kids got the evening off to a raucous start: front man Gary Holton was as obnoxious as ever, tripping over periodically and telling his year-old jokes (“We`re gonna play a dancin` number now, but seein` as you`re sittin` down rub your asses on the seats”) The Kids were brash and loud, but didn`t try quite hard enough to win over the crowd. No encore.
Alice took to the stage after a long interval and, tugging at his red leotard, cavorting gormlessly around to tunultous cheers, snarled out the appropriate opening lines to `Welcome To My Nightmare`.
It soon became clear, however, that what should have been the ultimate fusion of rock and theatrical excess was in fact no more than a rather lewd pantomime.
Alice, taking the lead role in this epic, has well and truly discarded his malevolent, blood-lusting `Killer` image and now reminds you of a demented Jack minus his beanstalk.
He plays the frightened little boy, plagued by rotten dreams: he`s taunted by groups of superbly acrobatic dancers, he cowers, crawls, sits cross-legged in front of the toy box and enjoys a Punch and Judy show – in all, a rather embarrassing role.
He acts a vengeful Peter Pan figure who slashes with a sword, kicks around a limp female dummy, is attacked by bulbous spiders and decapitates a blundering cyclops – theatrical overkill, at times laughable and mostly less than convincing.
This was Alice`s trip. If nothing else, it served to tax his abominable voice and reveal to one and all that he has the absolute minimum of stage presence. He should never really have gone it so completely alone.
Alice`s musically excellent band were demoted to mere backing musicians. They were lined up at the back of the stage and could generate little excitement because of their seemingly minor roles (except for the Steve Hunter/Dick Wagner guitar duel, one of the highspots of the evening). Alice had to carry the whole show – and he just failed to pull it off.
It was all precisely timed and choreographed: a combination of live and filmed action, where dancers would leap from and into a cinema screen was quite impeccable – even though it wasn`t rock and roll. Many were all too easily impressed by the effects – the biggest cheer of the evening arose when a giant spider`s web was hoisted up from wisps of dry ice and not when, for example, Alice sang `No More Mr Nice Guy` or `Department Of Youth`.
Even when the theatricals were over and the band played straight rock and roll for the encore, it was strictly anti-climatic. I believe solos were played, though the only clear view I had was of the keyboard player`s head.
“I expected something a little more spectacular,” said the same girl at the end of the concert. I wouldn`t necessarily agree with that – but I do believe that Alice should save shows like this for Broadway and at the same time carefully assess his position in the leading role.