First Night: Alice Cooper/Motorhead/Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, SECC, Glasgow

Whether cliches or archetypal rock gods, the old ones are still the best
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The Independent Culture

Rock music in its purest form is a genre which thrives on undiluted cliché, the extravagant disregard for convention from which it sprang having evolved, in most cases, into a particularly vulgar kind of cabaret.

Common sense should dictate that only when you're young can you get away with adopting the rock pose, when being loud and resentful is a valid reason for existence. So why – other than for commercial gain – do the three old-stagers appearing before us here keeping pushing on?

It's kind of amusing to think of Joan Larkin (49), Ian Kilmister (61) and Vincent Furnier (59) as they are in their civilian life – wealthy, successful businesspeople heading for retirement age.

By this stage of their life, most people are probably winding down towards their pipe-and-slippers days. Or at least working diligently on their golf handicap, as the last of the above might well agree.

Yet still the trio – Joan Jett, Motorhead's Lemmy and Alice Cooper, to give them their more widely-known professional names – just keep on rocking, with all the faintly ridiculous connotations that brings for people of their age (although, of course, Jett is considerably more youthful and spry than her male counterparts).

What is truly surprising, though – and creditable – is the fact that they're actually really rather good at it. Jett and her band The Blackhearts shared lowest billing, which illustrates the level of quality present here, considering how iconic a figure she has been. A heroine to a new generation of straight-up female rockers, her more well-remembered work these days is the anthemic "I Love Rock 'N' Roll", and so it proved here.

Motorhead are also mainly known outside rock circles for one track, but the almost brutish stage persona of continued rabble-rouser and Nazi memorabilia aficionado Lemmy is just as synonymous with his band as "Ace Of Spades" in most minds.

Apparently "In The Name Of Tragedy", is for "William Shakespeare – 'oo ever the fuck 'e was". He's no Renaissance man, is Lemmy, but his band still makes a dynamic, invigorating sound which echoes all the way to your breastbone.

Outside of the guitar-riffing bluster and at least one highly competent and thoroughly milked drum-power solo, Lemmy and his crew still managed to squeeze in one short acoustic blues track before the apocalyptic "Ace Of Spades", demonstrating that his musical savvy far exceeds his knowledge of theatre.

Finally, then, Alice Cooper – a man whose whole career is based on nothing but theatre. Against a stage-obscuring screen emblazoned with his name he enters, apparently murdering some vaudevillian impersonator of himself in a strange, large-scale shadowplay before doing so.

Yet for all that the mascara drips sweatily down his drawn cheeks and his show is infused with macabre pomp and circumstance – the impersonator is removed by black-clad undertakers around three songs in – the lie to Cooper's "No More Mister Nice Guy" image comes with the professionalism which he dispenses his array of hits with, from "School's Out" on. It just goes to show – one man's cliché is another man's archetype.

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