The Mission and The Tubes
Manchester Arena – Manchester, UK – 15th November 2017
I have to admit I was feeling a little surprised when this arena package was announced. Three acts of completely differing musical genres and playing large Arenas? Good or bad, would it work or crash significantly? On entering the Arena – commercially well in terms of bums on seats – it was clearly apparent that ticket sales had gone well with a very close to sold-out audience.
Taking my seat early I was intrigued to see the legendary Tubes for the first time. I admit knowing very little about them and apart from one song wouldn’t claim to be an expert on their musical legacy. They seem to have survived the rigors and turmoil of their chosen career quite well. With legendary frontman Fee Waybill delivering a master class in terms of serving up a “show” (complete with many costume changes) he certainly won over a large part of the Alice audience. There did also appear to be a hardcore element of Tubes fans in the surprisingly seated audience who partied with the band as they ran through a set of fan-favourites. I guess as the band don’t play that often in the UK it forced their fans to venture out of their houses from all parts of the UK. Speaking to some fans after their set it seemed that the band had served up a collection of their best-known anthems. Certainly, different and kickstarted the audience reaction from the outset.
Next up were gothic rock legends, The Mission. A band that I was certainly a lot more familiar with having followed them from the eighties right up to attending their headlining Ritz show last year. A greatest hits set was energetically served up by the band to the sadly mostly apathetic audience. There were certainly pockets of Mission fans present in the Arena, but these were isolated in numbers. In terms of the band’s musical output I can have no complaints at all as hit followed hit.It was just a pity that the usually passionate response that this fantastic band generate from their adoring masses and legions of fans fell on deaf ears. The Alice Cooper fans did not appear to embrace them at all. This lived up to my initial reservations that I felt their inclusion with Alice Cooper on the Arena package would not be a great marketing idea.
Alice Cooper was the rightful show headliner – an act who I have seen many times over the years. Cabaret and some high-quality tunes was predicted and duly served up to the delight of a now packed Manchester Arena. Featuring a band top-heavy on guitars and energy, the youthful element certainly kept the old master fired up with their onstage enthusiasm. The usual visuals were in attendance – expected yes, but still always working in terms of sparking the audience’s focus and attention. Old hits were played side by side with tracks from Alice’s latest and in my opinion one of his best albums, Paranormal. Alice has been in the game a long time and knows exactly what he is doing. Totally belying his now sixty-nine years old, he should actually have collected his pension quite some time ago. Yet he shows no danger in stopping anytime soon, maybe all the golf he plays is really giving him the “Fountain of Youth”.
Exclusive to the UK dates on this leg of his tour, there was huge hype and expectation specifically regarding the second half of the set. Joining Alice on stage were the original members of the Alice Cooper Band, Neal Smith ,Michael Bruce and Dennis Dunaway.The Glen Buxton role was being ably filled by the rock and roll troubadour, Ryan Roxie. The band played a short four-song set of older standards before old and new bands both took to the stage for a farewell “Schools Out”. The package with 3 acts didn’t work well in terms of the audience reactions. I personally enjoyed Alice and the Mission, who I have seen many times over the years, and it was nice to see the legendary Tubes for the first time. Commercially, however, with a close to sold-out Arena venue, it appeared to have been a hit.
All Photos © John Wood