Close this search box.

Stay up to date

Subscribe to our weekly
e-newsletter for news and updates

Advertise with us



Review: Garry Chapman Photos: Jason Rosewarne

Ace Frehley likes to play his guitar loud, very loud. And his fans at a packed Rod Laver Arena on Friday evening wouldn’t have it any other way.

‘Parasite’ and ‘Hard Times’, a couple of Frehley-penned Kiss numbers opened the set, then a cover of the Rolling Stones’ ‘2000 Man’, the last two from the band’s ‘Dynasty’ album.

“Melbourne, I’m back!” Ace announced and the fans roared their approval. It was clear from the images and emblems emblazoned on their black T-shirts that those admirers in the front rows, pumping their fists in time with every guitar chord, were long time members of the Kiss Army.

The Kiss numbers kept coming, with a few of Ace’s solo tunes in the mix as well. The screaming guitar of ‘Rocket Ride’ seemed to take the volume up another notch. He tossed a few handfuls of guitar picks out into the crowd and soon he was gone from view.

Bass guitarist Chris Wyse stepped up and began a thundering intro to ‘Strange Ways’ and, when Ace reappeared, he was now wearing the familiar Kiss Spaceman’s made-up face on his shirt.

‘Talk to Me’ and ‘New York Groove’ went down very well. “Put your hands together,” he boomed, and the audience members joined in with the chorus. “I’m back, back in the New York Groove,” they sang.

Kiss favourites ‘Detroit Rock City’ and ‘Deuce’ brought the set to a close. For a time, his guitar was billowing smoke, then, as a farewell gift, Ace treated us to a little more of the insanely ear splitting guitar artistry he’s well known and loved for. As a warm-up act for Alice Cooper, Ace Frehley was a fitting choice.

Alice Cooper was the headline act on this fabulous double bill. The ‘Spend the Night with Alice Cooper Tour’ celebrates his 40th anniversary on the international music scene, and it’s the thirteenth visit Down Under from Alice and his band.

‘Brutal Planet’ began the show. An array of dolls and other toys was strewn before a large, mysterious toybox on stage. Weird masks peered out of the darkness behind him as Alice, staring malevolently with his smudged and blackened eyes, strode to the microphone. The band kicked in, perhaps not quite as loud as Ace, but not too far behind him. Constantly on the move, they prowled back and forth across the stage in support of Alice, stepping forward into the lights to engage the fans whenever he gave them space.

‘No More Mr Nice Guy’ was the first opportunity for a crowd singalong, and they were in fine voice. This was what they had come to see and hear. No doubt many had followed this rock icon throughout the entire forty-year span of his career, but there was plenty of youth in the crowd too, and they also knew just about all of the words to sing along with.

Perhaps it was fitting, then, that ‘Department of Youth’ was included in the setlist. A huge Stars ‘n Stripes flag dominated the backdrop as Alice belted out “We’re the Department of Youth ..” and the fans roared back “We got the power!”

‘Billion Dollar Babies’ featured another fabulous backdrop, with the baby’s face, so memorable from the album cover, enlarged to fill the display and looking rather intimidating behind Alice and the band. Resplendent in coattails, Alice stalked across the stage, dollar bills spilling from the end of the sword he was brandishing and fluttered out over the outstretched hands of the audience.

Guitarist Nita Strauss, who had worked hard all night, really came to the fore in ‘Woman of Mass Distraction’, playing some blistering chords and earning rapturous audience applause. As the smoke rolled out over a darkened stage, highlighted by a single spotlight, she moved to centre stage and let it rip. What a talent she is.

Alice reappeared in white shirt and top hat, conducting the crowd as he might conduct an orchestra, as they screamed out “You’re poison!” in response to another one of his best known songs. They were certainly enjoying the selection of all-time favourites that were dominating the evening’s setlist.

Alice was off stage again as Glen Sobel launched into his drum solo. Guitarists Nita Strauss and Ryan Roxie soon joined in, as did bassist Chuck Garric. Momentarily, it was the iconic lineup of three guitarists lined up in a tight formation, playing and moving in unison at centre stage, but they moved apart as eery green smoke began spilling out from the toybox and Alice emerged from within and re-entered the stage.

As ‘Feed My Frankenstein’ came to a close, a large monster moved threateningly across the stage, dwarfing the guitarists who took care to get out of its way. Alice grabbed a large rag doll and grappled menacingly with it as he rasped through ‘Cold Ethyl’, singing “Come on, Cold Ethyl. Freeze me, babe!”

Alice took a seat as Ryan Roxie played the familiar opening chords of ‘Only Women Bleed’ on his double-necked guitar and once again the fans were in full voice singing along. All over the stadium, smartphones were held aloft as the punters captured video footage of one of their favourite songs.

‘Paranoiac Personality’ was the only song Alice featured from his latest album, ‘Paranormal’, but it led nicely into ‘The Ballad of Dwight Fry’. The show had moved well and truly into the macabre gothic world that Alice has inhabited for so long by this point. Alice was strapped securely into a straitjacket now, attended by the manic Nurse Cheryl. His glowering eyes were fixed on the crowd as his crafty nurse restrained him. The guillotine was brought on stage, perhaps the most remarkable on-stage prop since Spinal Tap famously featured Stonehenge all those years ago. Obscured by a cloud of smoke and surrounded by ghoulish attendants, with the band never missing a beat, the blade came down and Alice lost his head.


Thankfully he soon reappeared, holding his own head, which was soon tossed aside for ‘I Love the Dead’ and, in a nod to the occasion of his 40th anniversary, he finished with the song that started it all, ‘I’m Eighteen’. Of course, the band rocked and the patrons sang along with the chorus at the top of their voices.

Alice and the band left the stage, but there was no doubt they’d be back. Everyone knew it as they stamped their feet and cheered and whistled for Alice to return for the encore. They all knew what he’d be playing before they even heard the first chord. ‘School’s Out’ was a fitting finale. Huge colourful balloons floated down through the confetti shower and were bounced back and forth across the stage and the front rows. With the band in full flight behind him, Alice, now attired as a circus ringmaster in top hat and gold-braided jacket, once more swinging his sword like a conductor’s baton, led the adoring fans through the very familiar chorus and their response was … well, you figure it out. “School’s out for SUMMER! School’s out FOR EVER!” They loved it! The song nicely segued into ‘Another Brick in the Wall’, and then it was over. What a show!
























Share this