The countdown is over. Finally, the waiting is done, and the undisputed king of shock rock is back on our rainy British shores, bringing with him, of all people, ugly '80s metal SMFs Twisted Sister. Their first tour in twenty years, and we get to witness it. Would we be treated to an hour of 'new material'? Er, no. Dee Snider may be an outspoken, arrogant motormouth, but he's no fool. He knows fine well that if he's going to bring back the band with any success, he's going to have to squeeze back into the leather trousers (less of a problem for the svelte Mr Snider than for his cohorts – clearly much of the missing twenty years has been spent consuming pies) and bleach his curly wig blonde once more. Yup, just like KISS, Twisted Sister have in fact become their own tribute band.
But, despite looking like Widow Twanky on crack, flanked by a guy in a mullet wig and aviator shades and some portly dude dressed as King out of Tekken (minus the leopard head, obviously), Snider is here to ROCK. So we get all the songs we'd expect to hear (that'll be 'I Wanna Rock' and 'We're Not Gonna Take It' then – and we were still eating our tea during the latter, thanks to a massive traffic jam on the M8) plus an awful lot of mad sweary ranting from Mr Snider to fill in the gaps. Still, you have to hand it to the man, he works the crowd as if we're actually there to see him (tchuh!), jumping into the crowd to press some flesh and soundly lambasting any poor sod who dares sit down during the set (yes, it's a seated gig – urgh – and all the TS fans appear to be in the 'shite seats' at the back).
But enough of Twisted Sister, we're here for one reason and one alone: my hero, the King of the Pantheon of Glam, Mr Alice Cooper. And, after a rumbling intro of Phantom of the Opera organ music (seriously), there he is: 57 years old and bursting onto the stage in a black tailcoat twinkling with rhinestones, singing 'Department of Youth'. You so just have to love him.
No potty mouthed tirades for Mr C – with a back catalogue of brilliant songs that would fill the British Library, he doesn't waste any time, instead taking us briskly through an exhilarating mix of tunes old and new, from Coop classics 'No More Mr Nice Guy' , 'Is It My Body' and ' Be My Lover' to the obligatory showcasing of material from the latest album, Dirty Diamonds (the James Bond inspired title track, plus 'Woman of Mass Distraction' and 'Sunset Babies'). Backed by a mean keen band of tattooed youngsters, the sound is raw and raucous (although not nearly loud enough, SECC take note) and the pace never flags. Next thing we know, there she is, daughter Calico Cooper, clad in thigh high boots, bikini and leather mask, beating up her dad to the strains of 'Go To Hell'. It would be so, so wrong, if it wasn't also rather sweet.
And then we get to my favourite part of the show, the moment when the cheery mask falls down and we peer into the abyss of madness and: 'The Awakening', the utterly spinechilling 'Steven' (and poor old Calico bludgeoned to death with a hammer), 'Only Women Bleed' and 'The Ballad of Dwight Frye' and then it's out with the guillotine and Evil Alice is dead… Long live Evil Alice. Because of course he's back for the finale: 'School's Out', 'Poison' and a hilarious rendition of 'Wish I Were Born in Beverley Hills'. Last tour it was Britney Spears who got it in the neck (literally), this time it's Paris Hilton's turn to fall foul of the Cooper sense of humour, ravaged by her own Chihuahua. Hoho. Then it's 'Under My Wheels' and… it's all over for another year.
The Alice Cooper Show is so much more than just a gig. It's an emotional rollercoaster ride of sex and violence, evil and redemption, aching loneliness, psychotic insanity and good time rock'n'roll. It's a theatrical spectacle, a quasi-religious experience (if you're me, anyway…) and an exuberant celebration of some of the most brilliant, intelligent and innovative music of the last thirty five years. Alice, I cannot salute you enough. You are the best.