come and legends go. When they go, they usually go out in
a coffin. So when Alice Cooper rumbled through the Midwest
on his No More Mr. Nice Guy Tour, I made it a point to see
a living legend......get his head chopped off.
Anyone that's heard of Alice Cooper, and that's the entire
universe (with the exception of my wife), knows that he
is the king of macabre and the true inventor of what's come
to be known as "shock rock." With a history of
live performances that include hangings, beheadings, giant
spiders, straightjackets and other horror-type elements,
I was curious to know if a 63-year old Alice had turned
in his sword for a walking cane. Having seen the master
of macabre in 1987 (with some drugged out L.A. band called
Guns N' Roses as his opening act), he did his entire package
of hits with all of the spooky theatrics he's so famous
for. In 1996, I had a chance to see Alice for a second time.
Splitting a bill with the Scorpions, he played an abbreviated
set and had virtually no theatrics whatsoever. So, what
should I expect now that Alice is about to turn 64 in a
couple of months? Will this be a return to a full set of
classic material and all of the horror schtick that cemented
him his place in rock history? I had to find out just what
Alice had to offer, so I packed up the kids and headed 70
miles south to a quaint 3,400 seat venue in Indiana to witness
the Hall of Famer in action.
up the crowd on this frigid evening was an English band
called Livan. Equipped with a super cool hydraulic keyboard/mic
stand, a hot bass player, and a drummer with more chops
than a grocery store, this was one of the best opening
acts I can remember. It was enlightening to see a talented
opening act get full use of the stage, a full light show,
and I chance to use some props. Not every headliner lets
their supporting act have that much expression. Kudos
to you, Alice Cooper. With the crowd warm and toasty from
the electrifying Livan set, the lights went down with
a roar. It was the roar of about 3,200, with a couple
of hundred seats in the balcony left vacant and silent.
You have to wonder how that happens.
is no better way to kick off a show of shock and horror
than with the voice of Vincent Price. As he delivers the
opening dialogue to the classic Welcome To My Nightmare
track, "The Black Widow," the tapestry falls
to the floor to reveal Alice atop an enormous staircase,
towering over his handsome and youthful band. As he raises
his arms, we find his leather jacket donning spider legs.
With the road crew disguised in coveralls and/or executioner
hoods, they turn the staircase around and Alice carefully
descends to the stage to join his band. Dressed in a top
hat and waving a ringmaster's cane, Cooper had total control
of his hard rock circus. As he rolled out hit after hit,
you could see him directing his guitar players to specific
places on the stage. Cooper made sure to interact with
all of the members of the band, especially female guitarist
Orianthi. Best known for being hired by Michael Jackson
for the This Is It concerts, she is a guitarist extraordinaire.
The chemistry between Cooper and his stunning blonde six-stringer
was exciting to watch. Even though she is only 26 years
old, Orianthi is no newcomer to the stage. Having performed
with Prince, Carrie Underwood, and Steve Vai, she knows
what it takes to please her boss as well as a wanton audience.
Cooper brought a three guitar attack to this circus though,
and they each got some time to shine. The early part of
the set included so many hits you started to wonder what
might be left for the end of the show. "I'm Eighteen,"
"Under My Wheels," "Billion Dollar Babies,"
"Is It My Body," and the classics just kept
coming. Cooper looked quite fit and sounded fairly strong
in voice as well. Although his music doesn't demand a
whole lot of vocal prowess, he did power home the tunes
with a voice that seemed strong and rested. Some of the
higher notes, most notably those in "Only Women Bleed,"
were nowherre to be found, but with an artist like Alice
Cooper I find it acceptable. I don't think too many go
to Cooper's shows to hear a great singer. I think the
beauty of an Alice Cooper show lies in the power and attitude
in the voice, and the intensity of the theatrical performance
in relation to the songs. All of those key elements were
firmly in place. We saw Cooper's signature boa constrictor
wrapped around his head and torso for the classic "Is
It My Body." We saw him dance with and caress a life-sized
doll during "Only Women Bleed" and "Cold
Ethyl." We saw a huge, singing and stomping Frankenstein
monster (a la Iron Maiden's "Eddie") with an
Alice face during "Feed My Frankenstein." And
yes, we saw Alice get his head chopped off in the guillotine.
There were many other surprises during the show as well
that included swords, balloons, and confetti among other
things. Because he never said a single word between songs
or addressed the crowd in any way, there was plenty of
time for the things that really matter.
This was a fairly complete Alice Cooper performance that
included a very talented young band playing a nice selection
of songs. It was great to see Cooper going back to the
Killer album and doing deeper cuts like "Halo Of
Flies" and the title track. I also thought the addition
of the catchy techno-80's sounding "Clones (We're
All)" was a nice change of pace. The band did sound
strongest when they were tapping the classics though,
especially "Muscle Of Love." I did miss hearing
"Welcome To My Nightmare" and "Go To Hell,"
and I was hoping to see a hanging at some point during
the evening, but other than that the show was a blast.
The Black Widow
Under My Wheels
Billion Dollar Babies
No More Mr. Nice Guy
Is It My Body
Halo of Flies
I'll Bite Your Face Off
Muscle of Love
Only Women Bleed
Feed My Frankenstein
Clones (We're All)
Wicked Young Man
Killer ("Execution" excerpt only)
I Love the Dead (excerpt only)
School's Out (Including snippet from ")