Sweden Rock Magazine

Sweden Rock Magazine - 2006

Sweden Rock Magazine

Originally Published: 2006

Alice Cooper - The Nightmare Returns


Author: Christian Strandell

Halloween 1986. Joe Louis Arena, Detroit. Alice Cooper had just crawled out of the darkness he'd been living in during the larger part of the first half of the 1980's. Together with the "He's back" single (soundtrack to "Friday the 13th: Part VI") and the comeback album "Constrictor" (released a little more than one month earlier), the "Nightmare Returns" tour would hit back at critics that were saying the phenomenon of Alice Cooper was a has been relic. Where the album might not have done the job completely, the tour was a complete success. To back up that sentiment, we have this recording, where a highly vengeful Alice shows he is absolutely determined to take back his shock rock crown. Alice's motivation is mirrored in his performance. A slim, alert and confident Alice entered the stage sober, for the first time in a long time. The show was well planned and the set list better than it had been for the past couple of tours. The spark that ignited Alice's fire and willed him to pull himself back up again, was seeing the rise of groups like Twisted Sister, Mötley Crüe and W.A.S.P. that used classic Cooper attributes like make-up and theatrical stage shows.

The sound on this DVD is quite good, although Alice's singing is a little sloppy here and there. This isn't something that takes much away from the impact, but instead adds to the unpolished and dangerous image Alice relied heavily upon during his comeback. The setlist is top notch, even though the crushing 80's heavy metal sound, mainly from Kane Roberts, sometimes drowns the true 70's feeling of the classic songs. Besides the concert staples, we also get to hear "Be My Lover" and "Sick Things", fan favourites that at the time had not been played live for more than ten years. The "Nightmare Returns" tour is also one of a few times that Alice Cooper has performed the complete version of "Ballad of Dwight Fry". The full song was acted out between other theatrical highpoints as "Go to Hell" and "Teenage Frankenstein", during the middle of the show's most interesting part, which ends with the notorious beheading of Alice to the sounds of "I Love the Dead". In addition to "Teenage Frankenstein", which became the second single off the album "Constrictor", two other tracks are performed from the new album - the half lame "Give It Up", and the sledgehammer like "The World Needs Guts". The shortcomings of this release are mistakes like the absence of the promotional video for "He's Back" (why just give us two out of three MCA-era promos!?), the occasional colour saturation, and the inexcusable blunder of naming "I'm Eighteen" as "18 (Little Flower of Ulysses)" on the cover and menus. If we were given all three promos, together with a nice bonus interview from the era featuring an energized Alice, as well as a neat photo gallery, that would have made this a great release. Now, You get the feeling that everything went unnecessarily fast during the remastering of "The Nightmare Returns", which is a pity, since the concert itself is highly entertaining.

(Kindly translated from the original Swedish language article by Christian Strandell, August 2017)