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The Classic Grand, Glasgow
Saturday 27th December 2014

Johnny Main

johnny main

gallus cooper

In the last twenty years or so, the rise of the tribute band has become a bigger and bigger business throughout the UK. Moving from pubs and small clubs, some tribute bands now play in exactly the same venues as the acts they're paying tribute to and in some cases, it's to thousands of people a night.

For fans of these tribute acts these bands provide a different function to the actual real bands. Take Glasgow based band Them Beatles for example, who re-create live onstage songs from throughout The Beatles entire career, playing some songs that the actual band never got to play live, along with detailed costumes that add to the experience that takes you back to those halcyon days.

Another great exponent of the tribute band are Status Quo tribute band, Status No (did you see what they did there?) who take a less theatrical approach to their performances. There's no costume changes here, but what the band do is play some tracks that the real Quo haven't played in years like 'Spinning Wheel Blues' and 'Dear John' along with some of the big hitters from the bands vast back catalogue like 'Whatever You Want', 'Down Down' and the inevitable 'Rocking All Over The World'.

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Gallus Cooper, who are billed as the "UKs Premier Alice Cooper Tribute Band", were formed in Glasgow back in 2007. The word 'Gallus', by the way, is a Scottish slang word meaning self-confident, daring or cheeky which suits this band down to the ground.

As far as tribute bands go this is one of the most daring theatrical shows you're ever likely to see a band perform outside of a show by Alice Coopers himself! In fact the real Alice Cooper got word about the band and invited them over to Germany for a Meet and Greet, giving them his seal of approval. But what makes this band different from some other tribute acts then?

gallus cooper

Well, Gallus Cooper rely on solid musicianship of the band as a base on top of which their theatrical show is built. Frontman Peter McLean plays the part of Gallus Cooper himself, resplendent in the eye makeup synonymous with the real Cooper. I'm sure if you walked past McLean in the street you probably wouldn't look twice but a simple bit of eye makeup along with a top hat and long black jacket and he's instantly transformed into his alter ego and, certainly from a distance, he could pass for the real Alice Cooper.

Along with McLean is his backing band, guitarists Connor Williamson and Dave Cuthbert, bass player Paul McElroy and David Harkness on drums, the band put on a great overall musical performance. During their show, the band perform some of Alice Cooper's best known tracks including 'Billion Dollar Babies', 'No More Mr Nice Guy, 'Feed My Frankenstein' not forgetting the ubiquitous 'Poison' and 'Schools Out', but the band also cater for the more seasoned Alice Cooper fan with the inclusion of tracks rarely played live like 'Bed of Nails', 'It's The Little Things', 'The Black Widow' and 'Department of Youth'.

gallus cooper

Williamson is a tremendous addition to the band as he plays lead solo after lead solo note-for-note perfect whilst also managing to put on a highly entertaining display out front whilst Harkness is incredibly proficient on his white double bass drum kit as he keeps the tempo sound and solid.

What Gallus Cooper does in huge measure though, is the theatre aspect of their shows. Most bands nowadays give a performance on stage, in fact Status Quos lighting technician once told me that "you could just throw white light on them (Quo) and no-one would bother" whereas Gallus Cooper, like Alice Cooper himself, puts on a "show" – and that's the difference.

gallus cooper

From the video intro to the last guitar chord, the band invite the audience into a world of unreality with the inclusion of several walk on puppets, on stage props and numerous costume changes. The first walk on puppet is in the shape of a Cyclops during the show's introductory section, with a skeletal Father Christmas clambering onstage during 'Feed My Frankenstein'. Both of these are handled by Bill Crowe and are an integral part of the show. Let's face it, if you go to an Iron Maiden show and Eddie didn't make an appearance onstage during the gig, you'd be disappointed, wouldn't you? This is exactly the same thing here, only the puppets are used during a couple of songs to bring a bit more "show" to the bands performance.

Crowe also has other important roles to play during the gig, the most important of which is as a snake handler. Yes, Gallus Cooper uses a real live snake during the performance. The latest one is called Veronica and was named by Alice Cooper himself as he uses the same snake when he plays live in the UK.

gallus cooper

I should add here that Crowe is a professional serpent handler and he looks after the snake on a day-to-day basis, so it's not harmed in any way during the band's performances.

Veronica is utilised by Gallus Cooper during 'The Black Widow', and is used in the same way Alice Cooper does in his stage show, as he drapes her around his neck before giving those at the front of the audience a close up look - authenticity is the keyword here, and all of Gallus' performances reproduce the parts of the real Alice Cooper live show in incredible detail.

gallus cooper

Crowe's other main task towards the end of the set is to set up the gallows for his hanging scene during 'Dead Babies'/'I Love The Dead'. The gallows were hand built by McLean himself who told me that when they were first built, he tested them in his garden, and God knows what his neighbours thought was going on if they'd seen them all set up!

Guillotines and hangings have always an integral part of the Alice Cooper stage set and Gallus Cooper doesn't shirk when it comes to full scale theatrics. As Crowe comes onstage again this time dressed as the Grim Reaper, he places the gallows centre stage and there was a audible gasp from the audience as the noose was placed round McLeans neck before he falls through the trap staying motionless for a good few minutes before the curtain is drawn across and the gallows are taken off stage, only for his to return unscathed for the second half of the show.

gallus cooper

Another member of the cast in this extravaganza is known only by her stage name of 'Miss Rosetta', who also plays a number of roles throughout the show. Firstly (and rather unflatteringly), she's put into what can best be described as a 'gimp suit' during 'Go To Hell' before she re-appears later on dressed as a Nurse as she straps McLean into a strait jacket and blindfold, to a roar of approval from the audience – just like Alice Cooper would get too, I'm sure. All harmless fun if done properly though, and the audience lap up the occasional piece of ham acting while the songs are nothing if not played to perfection.

As the show draws to a close, McLean has one final trick up his sleeve. As the intro to 'Schools Out' blasts out of the PA, several large balloons are launched into the audience who bounce them around for the song's duration. As it reaches its conclusion, McLean brandishes a sword before theatrically popping the balloons them one by one, showering the audience in powder that was secreted inside each one. An easy trick to pull off you might say but it's an effective one, as the audience at the front descend into giggles and shout for more as the band take their bows before disappearing off stage.

gallus cooper

Gallus Cooper relentlessly tour the UK with their rock n' roll extravaganza, and it proves that if you really want to do your tribute act justice, then you really need to put the effort in and give the audience a real show because just playing the songs sometimes isn't enough to keep the audience satisfied.

Venues up and down the UK are filled with bands playing live but few have the energy, excitement and (sometimes) the sheer terror of the Gallus Cooper live show!

gallus cooper

Gallus Cooper Setlist:
Bed of Nails
It's The Little Things
The Black Widow
Go To Hell
You Drive Me Nervous
No More Mr Nice Guy
Halo of Flies
Feed My Frankenstein
From The Inside
Be My Lover
Cold Ethyl
Billion Dollar Babies
Dead Babies
I Love The Dead
Department of Youth
Schools Out
Dirty Diamonds

gallus cooper

Gallus Cooper are:
Peter McLean (aka Gallus Cooper) – Vocals
Connor Williamson – Lead Guitar
Dave Cuthbert – Rhythm Guitar
Paul McElroy – Bass Guitar
David Harkness – Drums

Gallus Cooper Online:

gallus cooper

With special thanks to Peter McLean and The Classic Grand, Glasgow (

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