11 Dec 2019

Old Black Eyes


....Is back!! With a new tour, new set, and a new (EPIC!) setlist. And all that lovely pre tour ticket buying stress malarkey……..

Was a helluva wait, several  months from announcement to actual tour, but I did manage to get some decent tix for a reasonable price (for a change!), so I was really looking forward to a stress free, lean-on-the-barrier-with-no-probs type of experience. Haha. 

Perhaps I should explain at this point, that, for me, there is no point in going if I cannot be on the barrier, within the area of the band on stage. No speakers in front of me, no tall people - well no people at all, really, considering that pretty much everybody is taller than me. And the barrier is always helpful to lean on when I get tired, which is often... although I much prefer it when there is no barrier .... (Nottingham, Sheffield!!!!Ah, the memories!) Just doesn’t happen much these days.
Some people are very happy just to have a good view from a way back, but not me. I want to be right at the front, and I get very cross if I can't be, especially when I have a front row tic, cough cough,Aberdeen, cough...(stamps foot, and sulks like a 3 year old)

So I set off for Manchester by train, with all my tour luggage. Honestly, I think I had less when I went to Asia for a month. (Steve was away and had to miss the first 2 gigs, so no driving to begin with).
I met up with Sparky, Nick and Si, and later Bill, Rachael and Kai for what promised to be a great first show. 
 2 support bands, MC50, and The Stranglers, which I will watch at some point but I don't think we did that first night. Imagine our horror, when we got in and found the barrier full! I think most of us managed to muscle our way there eventually, but it was a bit disheartening, since we all had front row seats….
I managed to squeeze in next to a girl who said that a bloke was coming back to that space – and it turned out to be Neil from Dublin – Hiya Neil,, great to see you again!!
Security is a bit hit and miss, great idea to wristband the first 2 rows but not great that they weren’t enforcing it, this doesn't really do it for angry little short arses like me.

BUT WHAT A SHOW,OMG!!! New stage set is like a castle, with stairs and different levels! Crew wearing Scary Baby masks! Giant babies on the backdrop, and in the castle tower!!  A new baby doll and a butchers chopping blade in the same scene! (really thought he was gonna do it, hah) A cannon to blast dollar bills into the crowd!!!! Sheryl in wonderful new outfits!!  KYLER IN A GIANT BLOW UP BABY!! So much fun!!

 And of course,  the return of FrankenAlice, the Guillotine, canes, whips, amazing new jackets, the aforementioned new baby doll (it's hand fell off one night, Alice picked it up, and gave it one of his scary mental looks, and then dropped it like it was a hot brick, lol) the crutch, the throwing knives swords, bubbles, balloons, streamers, paper feathers......
And the SETLIST!!!!! My Stars, my favourite Alice song for so many years, finally. So many  memories of getting my first album, Schools Out, and playing it on the horrible Dancette record player, with its nail-for-a-needle, and mono speaker! ....And Raped and Freezing, Years Ago (as the opener) Dead Babies, Steven and Escape! Tommy mentioned Escape several years ago, as a song he wanted to do, and it was completely amazing to see it done live. Takes me back to the years at home, playing it on my Dad’s record player, with his big squishy headphones on, I just kept on putting the needle back, again and again….
And there were 2 other tracks that I found particularly brilliant, Fallen in Love (off Paranormal) -in which Alice played harmonica – never seen him do that live! And Roses on White Lace, a track I’ve only listened to a few times in the past, but was so AWESOME live, I’ll be listening to it a lot more from now on.
Aaaaaahhhh, it was AMAZING! No wonder I couldn't get to sleep for hours.

I love to take pics at a show, and although I had my camera, my new phone takes pretty good pics. So I took way too many, still sorting them several weeks later.



















Soooo, after Manch, I embarked on the long drive to Aberdeen with Si and Nick. Honestly what are the tour peeps thinking? Have they never looked at a map of UK? Aberdeen is practically in the Arctic Circle ffs.
Thankfully, the company was exceptional, (thank you Si and Nick) and I did a bit of the driving, and also slept a bit, so the whole 8 effing hours passed fairly painlessly.

The hotel was a bit of a walk from the venue, so we got a taxi – just as well, it was raining cats and dogs, and it turned out to be quite a long way tbh – and we thought we would go in a bit earlier, to be assured of our barrier spot.

Huh, it was already full up by the time we got there, thanks to the security handing out wristbands to first 2 rows and anybody else who asked…..all and sundry. 
WHAAAAAA ..........so disappointed.....I had such great seats..........

My particularly brilliant seat was front row right in front of Alice, but some Scottish tart was already in my barrier spot, proclaiming that she was there first so fuck off, blah blah, and, for some reason, I wasn’t in a fighting mood (and security didn’t give a toss, not helpful), so I ending up in front of Ryan, which tbh is actually a pretty good spot to be in really. 
I love what he’s done with My Stars. And I met some lovely people who wanted to interview me for a mag, bless. I think I got a mention in some Scottish newspaper!

Was GREAT to see the show again, got to appreciate some of the finer points. And in meeting the band after, I spotted a giant Black Eyes poster on the wall. They won’t be needing that any more I thought, unclipping the side frame………….and then the plastic covering thing fell on top of me, followed by the poster, and the security woman took a Very Dim View, so I had to leave it on the floor………I expect it’s in the bin now…what a waste..



Back down to Leeds and I met up with Steve. We went off to the show, only to discover that our front row seats were actually in a tiny row of 5 far off to one side, grrrr. But we still managed to get a bit nearer thankfully, good job really as it was Steve’s first show. Chuck was absent, sadly, having gone off to do a Beasto cruise, but he was sub’d by Chris Wyse, from the Hollywood Vamps who was a lovely guy and abso brilliant at filling in.

And on to Brighton. On the way, My daughter Sarah (who I had been thrusting a spare ticket at for quite a while now) texted me on the way, saying she had suddenly decided she wanted to come! Result!! I was super excited to have her come with me, the rest of the fam aren’t really interested in Alice, so this meant SO MUCH to me!!  She loved the MC50 and The Stranglers, and of course Alice’s show,  especially Glen's AMAZING drum solo, honestly, I don’t know how he does it……..





Steve and I stayed at The Grand Hotel (cheap room, ridiculous parking fees – more than the room!)) and I met her outside, haven’t seen her for a few weeks as she has just started Uni in Brighton. So great to see her! 

 






Met up lots of other friends too!

Steve and I had VIP tix, but all the Sick Things managed to get in a bit early, and so had the best spots in the house -  Front middle!! At last!!! Doesn’t get any better than this 😊
And here we are, captured by one of The Stranglers crew!!

Best show so far!! Sarah ended up with the white cane!! (I was asking Alice to give it to her all the way thru School’s Out.) She was between Si and I, and Si was hanging on to it, so was I, and we looked at each other, he nodded towards Sarah, so I let it go! So glad she got it!!

I took it with me to the VIP and Alice signed it for her, I think it has pride of place in her Uni bedroom. And Dennis was there for School’s Out! He and Cindy are in town for the film premier of Cold Cold Coffin, and also Chris Penn, for Live from The Astroturf, a film of an ACG reunion a couple years ago in his record shop in US……My god, I wish we’d known about that, Steve and I would’ve flown out for it…….NEXT TIME CHRIS, PLEASE TELL US!!


Nita took a video of us all at the end of the show and then posted this:

Normally I only put these end of show videos in my Instagram story but tonight’s deserves a little more of a special shout out.
This front line right here is made up of some of the most hardcore 
@alicecooper fans on the planet, the faithful and tireless soldiers of the Sick Things fan site. Every person on this center front line has been at every UK show on the tour, singing every word to every song and giving us epic energy!!!! Sparky, Penny, Si, Bill, Rachel, Kai, Steve, and so many more... I don’t know most of your Instagram handles and I know I’m missing some names but I sure do know your faces!!! So from all of us to all of you, the Sick Things around the word- WE APPRECIATE YOU!!!! Thank you for what you do!!

Thank you Nita!!



Was GREAT to meet Alice of course, but the VIP thing was nowhere near as good as usual, in spite of costing twice as much -   no T shirt, 3 posters, (meh) a Cert of Insanity (got 3 already) and a setlist (got 2 of them off the stage),  and we weren’t allowed to video or take pics of friends with Alice ,  also, there was no pre show tour of the stage, due to 3 bands being on, no space etc which is fair enough, but Wonderful Effing Union, never informed us of this before, even though they were notified by the management, and they didn’t offer any kind of discount, so it was all a little disappointing, tbh. Not sure I will do it again, I mean £600, and you don’t even get a T shirt?? pffft….

But Alice was lovely as usual, gave me a nice hug, (squeeeee!) and signed all my stuff, inc Sarah’s white cane, even though I was about 5 things over the ‘limit’, ffs……grrrrrr ..DID I MENTION IT WAS £600??? gah.......
 And he also signed my arm – I had a portrait tattoo done about a year ago by Roni Tail @Mantra, Cheltenham, one of the best portrait artists I’ve ever seen, so I’ve been wanting to show it to him ever since….especially considering the agonising pain I went thru to get it, 3 hrs OUCH, such a wimp……. He did say he would get one of me on his arm, but I won’t hold my breath 😊


 I showed him my textiles A level record thing,  it was based on scribbles I did whilst listening to Schools's Out, I did it last year and got A*, and he said he’d never seen anything like it before 😊. Janet my tutor, would be so proud!!



I asked Kyler for a selfie with him and he gave the camera to Alice!! And then I got Alice pics with Steve, Sarah and Mercy, so many brilliant photos, thank you so much Kyler!
I had bought Kyler a present - he has a remodelled VW, called The Blue Marie, and ages ago, I saw a blue VW salt and pepper set in a shop and thought of him – I hope he liked them, and will put them in the campervan for when he goes away with his kids. He seemed very happy with them and took a pic!!

Alice said we were being boring, and to give him something to work with!!




VIP was over very quickly as usual, but on the way out I bumped in Dennis Dunaway, who said,’Hello Penny, how are you?’, and gave me an enormous hug, bless him. Always had a soft spot for Dennis, right back to the 70’s, when I had pics on my bedroom wall.

I managed to get Sarah a pass to meet the band, and she was so happy, she’s been hearing me play these guys in the next door room for so many years, I was so happy that she got to meet Tommy, Ryan Nita, Glen, and Dennis, who were all lovely to her, thank you guys 😊

Steve and I went back to the hotel – The Grand is a beautiful old building,  right on the seafront- and Dennis and Cindy were in the bar, along with many of our friends…such a great night!.

In the morning Sarah C (who had also got Alice to write on her arm) and I went off into the maze that is The Laines in Brighton, and got our scribblings tattooed. Gotta say, it was over so quick, I didn’t even feel it! Except for my wallet, eeeek £50 for 20 mins!!! But it looks great, and I am happy that I got it done straight away.



Then we said goodbye to Brighton - and my Sarah, will see you soon my love.... <3 - 

and Steve, Sarah, Mercy and I headed off to London, for a night out and another gig.

We booked ourselves into a beautiful flat (via Air bNb) called London Calling. Wow! It was amazing, I highly recommend it if you are in London for the weekend. There was even food for our first meal! And we could see The 02 out the window, so it wasn’t far to the gig. 
It's a bit fiurther round to the left

   

Here is Steve going off to sleep. He wears his Alice outfit for the whole week!

But first we had a night off – to see Ryan’s guitar clinic, at a record shop in  Denmark St, followed by the first UK screening of Live From The Astroturf, the reunion of the Alice Cooper Band, as engineered by Chris Penn, and filmed in his record shop in USA, and Also Dennis’ Cold Cold Coffin, a video short film, funded by Kickstarter, and starring Calico, and Dennis. Traffic in London is so rubbish, we had to walk the last bit to Ryan’s, because the traffic was bad…….

I wish I knew something about guitars, but I’m afraid it’s way beyond me - but when he starts manipulating those strings, it is seriously a joy to watch. He played 20th Century Boy, and then lots of bits of other songs, and he told us about his audition for Alice. He could hear all the previous contenders, playing great until they got to Poison, and then making a mess of it – (he showed how easy it is to make a mess of it, too!) So he decided that he really had to nail it, if he wanted the gig. And the rest is history! He also mentioned 2 songs that he thought were brilliantly crafted, and one of them was ‘S.O.S.’ by Abba! Bianca, his wife, was sat next to me, she said to me, ‘He’s been too long in Sweden’. Cannot remember for the LIFE of me what the other song was………….







And then it was on to Hackney, to the Castle Cinema, along with Dennis, Cindy, Chris Penn and the Pink Carpet. We -Mercy, Sarah C, Steve and I - were booked into the second showing at 10.45, so we quaffed a little wine, chatted with people, bought some T shirts, and then sneaked into the Q and A at the end of the first showing, to watch Dennis and Cindy et al, talk about the film.
Cold Cold Coffin was first, Dennis looking extremely scary, and Calico playing the grasping bride, it’s a great film, and I am happy to know that I contributed to it. (got a brilliant vintage patch for my donation!)
And then the  Astroturf!! I have one of the limited edition pink records from Chris, I just wish I could’ve been there. I think we all cried…..well, maybe not Steve, lol…..or did you mate??  😊 It was wonderful to see the reunion film, especially with so many other Sick Things, and I’m looking forward to it being released on You Tube. Loving the way, the cinema released giant balloons at the end of the movie!



Another Uber to get back home – and I pinched the balloons from outside the venue, sorry…….actually, I have no idea what happened to them…..??
And I shoulda immediately crashed into bed, but instead, I sat up til 4 in the morning, chatting with Mercy. I love that we got to spend a bit more time together with her and Sarah. Part of the joy of an Alice tour is meeting up with friends who you haven’t seen for ages.

And so, to the gig. The first taxi we got into stopped about 400yds round the corner – Sarah and I had decided to swap seats, and the driver took it as some kind of personal assault on his precious car, and kicked us out!! It’s a good job Uber is such a great way to get a ride, so it was only about 3 mins til another one showed up. Jeez… have no idea what his problem was....

Not too far to the venue, about 7 mins, and it's like a small city! Has to be, I guess, it’s so far from anywhere and such a total pig to get to. We had dinner in All Bar One, and met up with, umm, let’s see Andy, Si, the Scottish Contingent Rach, Bill and Kai (without whom, no tour would be complete!) Sparky, and, I’m sure, others, but my memory is not what it was, suffice to say, a great time was had by all. Because of course, it was another awesome gig, I swear it gets better every time I see it. Great seats up front, proper security, and I think I even managed to get some roses for Poison, although I ended up throwing them at the wrong time……Nita managed to pick them up and hand them to him. A fabulous time was had by all, including but not limited to, one Mr S. Coleman, who managed to capture a white cane for his collection. I said to him at the start, ’We’ll have to get you a white cane’, and Somebody Up There heard me.  Lots of chuffiness and backslapping ensued.





 We set off for Brum the next morning, dropping Sarah and Denise off on the way……but the traffic was utter crap, and it took forever to get there, whereupon we discovered that we’d inadvertently booked a hotel close to the NIA, and Alice was on at the NEC…duh....

So, one very expensive taxi ride later, we arrived at the NEC/Genting/Resorts World whatever they call it this year, and met up with the King of the Nation of Ovine, one J Lansley, and several other members sporting their sheep shirts.  A good time was had by all, especially JJ, who got to meet some of his idols, The Stranglers, incorporating another JJ. Apparently he said, ‘ I paid £4 to see you lot *somewhere * in *sometime*, and was answered with, ‘You were robbed’.





The enterprising Mr Forsyth managed to bully several good sports into donning the shirt for photos, Kudos to him, and also an appt as Ambassador To the Nation or some such Sheepiness. Good work, Paul!

And so to Cardiff, where we again joined by Sarah C, but sadly not Mercy P, for an exciting and enjoyable tour finale, how quickly that all went. Steve and I wandered around town before the gig and bumped into one Andy Michael, a guy full of useful info, He knows more about Alice than anybody on the planet – and we had a very long chat, which we would both like to continue later at some point.

Massive thanks to Alice and Sheryl, Ryan, (my Star!) Tommy , Nita, Chuck, Chris, and especially Glen, who came out of his shell briefly to give me a hug, bless him,  and seemed very pleased to see us all 😊











And all of the Sick Things, it just wouldn’t be the same without you, so great to see you all again……..especially my dear mate Steve, gig buddy extraordinaire, who is always there looking after me, much love matey xx

So much fun, and I can’t wait til the next time.

 Bring on another Sick Bus.