Monsters Of Rock - M.E.N. Arena - 20.11.02

Walking amongst a wall to wall crowd of denim, leather jackets and long hair - it's a far cry from the rock crowds this generation is used to. For once I'm one of the younger members of tonight's audience and thankfully there's hardly a Korn T-shirt in site (apart from a slight sprinkling of kids who have been dragged along by their dads). Tonight it's rock music how we used to know it with all the trimmings and chosen as the two headed Monsters Of Rock is the bizarre pairing of Alice Cooper and Thunder.

As I enter the arena for Thunder it becomes clear that this 70s and 80s rock nostalgia tour certainly isn't as well attended as the recent Hear & Now Tours by the likes of Culture Club and the Human League. Saying that though with Thunder you could never ironically dance to it in student disco's and to me the band are the rock version of Go West. Faded black jeans sit side by side with bright white trainers while clenched fists are punched in to the air. Still with a couple of classic songs under their wings it's clear why the next big musical scene could easily be the Stadium Rock Revival with the likes of the Darkness seeing rock excess and guitar solo's as a bench mark in musical history.

Alice Cooper on the other hand has always been the epitome of rock cool and even the kids can see how much of an influence he's been on rock music of the present day just by looking how Marilyn Manson has aped the career of Cooper down to the fine details. Sure in his part time Alice may have taken up golf as his favourite past time, but on stage he still provides one of the best rock shows. Kung Fu, killing babies, Alice's decapitation and subsequent resurrection is the order of the day and at times it's almost as the music is merely incidental to the rest of the show. Alice Cooper is like all the best horror movies rolled into one with a touch of pantomime about the whole proceedings which means you can never take it entirely seriously. Still the one time when the music does really take precedence is on the storming "Schools Out" - an anthem for kids the world over and our younger readers will recognize it as the song which Daphne & Celeste covered in their own anarchic style.

Whether old skool rock music will ever achieve the sort of ironic cool as 80s pop is yet to be seen, but when you consider that the likes Slipknot and Marilyn Manson can sell out this very same venue in a matter of days it seems as if Monsters Of Rock will simply be a one off nostalgia trip.

Alex McCann

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