Alice Cooper, Download Second Stage, June 11 2011

Watching a jovial Alice Cooper chat away on Sunday morning telly, it was difficult to believe this was the same bloke who had Download’s second stage wrapt the previous evening.

Here was our Vincent cooking his favourite dish, talking us through those crazy 70s tours and playing on a golf simulator. Less than 12 hours earlier he’d had his head chopped off after strutting around in a giant spider costume and waving a sword at giant inflatable balls. But then that’s what makes Alice – the man and the performer – so endearing after all of these years. 

The king of reinventing the wheel, he continues to push all of the right buttons. For the fans who thought they’d seen it all before, the back-to-back inclusion of the 1971 single Halo Of Flies and new track I’ll Bite Your Face Off was a masterstroke. Forty years might separate the songs but played in sequence they sounded like the most natural bedfellows within a set soaked in mock evil and laughable horror.

If those tunes were for the loyal devotees then the interested onlookers – many of them Cooper virgins – bopped away to brilliant renditions of Hey Stoopid, Schools Out and Poison. This was a tailored-for-festivals set fusing trademark theatrics with all of the hits and more besides.

Whereas Cheap Trick and Twisted Sister (Dee Snider exempted) looked every one of their advancing years as they warmed up the chilly masses for the main event, there’s a defiant, youthful exuberance about everything Alice does. A triumphant encore, featuring Elected and replete with a giant Union Jack – proved each and every one of us who missed the start of System’s main stage set made the right decision. Another UK headline tour follows this autumn and another round of plaudits await.

Simon Rushworth