Words by: Robert Sutton
Images by: Robert Sutton Photography
This was the first day (of two) of the all new festival from Kilimanjaro Live and The O2 to be held at the O2 Arena in London. It was really the classic rock day of the two with Alice Cooper as the main headline act and his only UK appearance in 2016. The festival comprised of three stages, these being the Main Arena at the O2, the Indigo and a temporary Entrance Stage in the lobby area…Thus, one thing that could be guaranteed is you wouldn’t be needing your raincoat or wellington boots for this festival..
Jared James Nichols – First up on-stage at the Indigo and despite being the first at the early time of 12:20 the blues/rock band did get a reasonable turn out to watch them with the venue being about a third full. It was a good start to the day and a good performance from the three members of the band, but Jared asking the limited numbers and at such an early time to sing along with him was perhaps pushing things just a little?!…Good start to the day though and if things carried on like this it was going to be a great day.
Jackaman – I had heard of Saint Jude and Lynne Jackaman and had heard her sing as guest on one of The Answer’s songs, but I had not heard her before as a solo artist. My word, this lady can sing with her singing with a passion her rock/soul songs .I think my ear plugs needed ear plugs on them for her set, what an excellent singer she is. Really enjoyed the set and will most definitely have to check her out further, what a super performance.
The Virginmarys – There was quite a lot of hype around about the Virginmarys following their recent UK tour and their performance at The Camden Rocks Festival in London two weeks ago and also with the release in May of their new album ‘Divides’. So those that had not seen them before were in for a real treat in seeing this Macclesfield rock band play. Once again the three piece group put in a super set and with Danny Dolan (drums) putting his heart and soul into hitting those skins on each and every song, as if his life depended upon it. With his approach to drumming reminding me so much of John Bonham…and coupling that with Ally Dickaty’s (vocals/guitars) super voice, so suited for rock, this band really are destined for much bigger things in the near future.
Michael Monroe – If there is one guy who knows how to put on a great show, every time, it has to be Michael Monroe. His enthusiasm and exuberance just shine through every time that I have seen. Once again he did not disappoint and I don’t think I can be alone in thinking that, as by this time the Indigo was just about full to capacity with others also wanting to watch his set. What a super performance, with great vocals and his customary saxophone and harmonica playing as well. Once again with him never missing any chance to mix it in with the audience he leaned over the security barrier to get the audience to sing with him on several occurrences, however this time he did have to miss out on his party trick as there was nowhere for him to climb to from the stage!!…
The Lounge Kittens – I have been meaning to go see The Kittens for some time now, so today I made a point to go to see them perform on The Entrance Stage and miss seeing Therapy? (Sorry Therapy?). From the off this was such a fun set to watch with them covering songs from AC/DC, Alice Cooper and Steel Panther among others. You could see that the three girls were enjoying themselves, but not taking things too seriously and they did get a good sized audience to watch them. However, perhaps singing ‘Glory Hole’ by Steel Panther in the lobby entrance of the O2 Arena may not have gone down too well with the mums with their young children walking by!!..But hey-ho, I enjoyed it!! Great fun band, Loved it.
Blackberry Smoke – First of the main acts on the main arena stage. The five piece southern rock band put on a good set to the quite empty arena, but for some reason didn’t quite get me in the mood on the night, not that it wasn’t good, but perhaps I was just expecting a bit more from them??…They played a very short set of seven songs, but did finish with their great track ‘Ain’t Much Left of Me’.
Apocalyptica – Comprising of three celloists and a drummer who have been performing rock and heavy metal covers for the last 20 years and came to fame for their Metallica covers. For enthusiasm for there performance I have to give them ten out of ten. However, as a show, I found it was a tad boring…Only getting a bit better when they bought on a vocalist for a couple of their songs, with the audience providing the vocals for the rest of their covers..But then again any opportunity to sing along to Metallica songs can’t all be bad..Can it??
The Darkness – This crowd pleasing rock band seem to have had a bit of a resurgence in their popularity in the last few years with them surprisingly picking up a much younger audience, who probably weren’t even old enough to be listening to any music when the band first started out.. Justin’s (vocals/guitars) performance just seems to get weirder and more wakky as the years go by though, with him this time saying that he would shave the hair off the centre part of his head and trying to guess the names of members of the audience!!…Apart from his strange antics, it was a good set that comprised of their party classics including ‘Growing On Me’, ‘One Way Ticket’ and the hugely popular ‘I Believe in a Thing Called Love’.
Alice Cooper – Probably a bit biased on this one, as I been a lifelong Alice fan. I don’t think I have ever seen a bad performance from him, with him always putting on a super show with his legendary theatrics on-stage. Believe it or not this was the first time in his career that Alice has played at the O2 Arena, so it just proves that there can be some firsts after all these years of performing. This time I was so happy that he did play some of his older songs in his set and a few that he doesn’t usually play. (‘Woman of Mass Destruction’, ‘Cold Ethyl’ and the semi acoustic ‘Only Women Bleed’ come to mind on that score). The rest of the set comprised of the usual classics and he also treated us to the full version of ‘Halo of Flies’. I thought that it was also a great touch to pay tribute to those that are no longer with us, with him playing four cover songs from The Who, Jimi Hendrix , David Bowie and one more that he has now, unfortunately, added Motorhead. He finished his standard set with the classic School’s Out where I do believe that the whole audience sang along to..The encore was ‘Elected’ and even for the encore he had the theatrics of Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton fighting it out on-stage..Once again such a great show and once again I have no idea how he does the guillotine trick on stage!!…
Alice Cooper Setlist:
1: The Black Widow
2: No More Mr. Nice Guy
3: Under My Wheels
4: Public Animal #9
5: Is it my Body
6: Billion Dollar Babies
7: Long Way to Go
8: Woman of Mass Destruction
10: Halo of Flies
11: Feed My Frankenstein
12: Cold Ethyl
13: Only Women Bleed
15: Ballard of Dwight Fry
16: Killer / I Love the Dead
17: Pinball Wizard (The Who cover)
18: Fire (The Jimi Hendrix Experience cover)
19: Suffragette City (David Bowie cover)
20: Ace of Spades (Motorhead cover)
21: I’m Eighteen
22: School’s Out
Saturday Performances and Stages:
Jared James Nichols
The Entrance Stage:
The Lounge Kittens