Alice Cooper and the New York Dolls

You can tell it’s not a normal night out when you look round and the bloke standing next to you in the toilet has six extra arms. Yes it’s Alice Cooper’s Halloween Night of Fear at north London’s Alexandra Palace.

We got there just in time to catch the end of the New York Dolls set. Let’s face it the Dolls were always a triumph of image over content so I wasn’t unhappy that we got Trash, Jet Boy Jet Girl and an encore of Personality Crisis without any of the other old rubbish. Have to say that they looked business even if David Johansen did look as if he had been embalmed.

Cooper was in command of the audience from the moment the lights came up. Black Widow kicked off a set that ran through mostly hits from the early seventies like I’m Eighteen, Under my Wheels, Billion Dollar Babies and No More Mr Nice Guy, along with some recent stuff like Hey Stupid and Poison. Here’s some classic Cooper from the Killer album.

This was the sixth I have seen Alice (the first was in 1975 on The Welcome to My Nightmare Show) , each show has been different, but tonight was by far the best. The band were smoking hot with three guitarist including the lovely Orianthi who all got a chance for an extended work out with Halo of Flies even if it did include the dreaded drum and bass solo (time to go for a pee). Schools Out closed the set and was neatly segued with a call and response Another Brick in the Wall.

Cooper really knows how to work his audience returning to the stage for Elected, waving a Union flag and wearing an England shirt, but the best was yet to come as the show closed with the legendary Arthur Brown taking over vocal duties for his classic Fire complete with burning helmet.

So big thank you to Cooper and his band, the Dolls and especially Arthur Brown for a brilliant night out.

Folkies, Goths, German Lager and a Cinema – A Few More Edinburgh Pubs

While we are in Edinburgh it won’t come as a surprise that we like to try visit a few pubs.

Me at the Captains

On Friday night we went to the Banshee Labyrinth in Niddry Street. This is reputed to be Edinburgh’s most haunted pub. Part of this boozer is the subterranean vaults formerly frequented by Edinburgh’s cut throats and thieves, while the rest was part of a house owned by Lord Nicol Edwards, the richest man in Edinburgh. Inside are seven rooms, including three bars and a cinema, and there is regular free live rock music, which keeps Edinburgh’s Goths and rockers happy. We could only stay for one as we had a table booked at Mother India (see Beer and Curry Tapas for details) but I think the Labyrinth will repay a further visit.

Oddly enough the Labyrinth is the sister pub to one we know fairly well, The Black Rose Tavern on Rose Street. This place is much smaller but has a decent choice of music (Zeppelin, REM, Prodigy etc) and hosts an open mike rock karaoke which can be quite funny. Not much of a choice of beer though, unlike The Black Cat (168 Rose Street) which has some excellent ales, including West’s St Mungo lager, which is brewed to German purity laws in Glasgow of all places. It also has an interesting menu which I think makes a future visit quite likely.

On Saturday afternoon we had a drink in The Captain’s Bar in South College Street. We first discovered this boozer during the Festival last year.

The Captain's Bar

It’s quite an eccentric little pub serving McEwans and Deuchars, that still has many of it’s original working features like these taps on the bar.

Just the thing to add water to your whisky at the Captain's Bar

It is also home to a vibrant folk music scene and can get quite packed of an evening. Not far from the Captain’s, in Drummond Street we found the Brass Monkey.

The Brass Monkey

Now this really was the discovery of the weekend. It does not look much from the outside, but we were pleasantly surprised to be welcomed by the strains of AC/DC as we entered and settled down with a pint of Red Stripe and a soup with homemade humous roll combo (£3 ). As we supped our ale we could not but help hearing explosions and gunfire over Mr Jimi Hendrix. It turned out that this pub also has it’s own cinema and was showing From Dusk till Dawn, which was just coming to it’s end. So picture over we popped in for a look and found what must be the most comfortable cinema in the UK.

Comfy sofas at the Brass Monkey's cinema

With sofas lining the walls it has all the comforts of home without the washing up!