News : REVIEW: Alice Cooper’s Shock Show Still Loaded With Charm
An Alice Cooper show these days is like a really good, vintage B-movie or a classic black-and-white Looney Tunes cartoon. There’s a charm to all the old-school theatrics, which haven’t been upgraded to the high-tech digital age.
Friday night, Cooper drew a big crowd to the Midland theater, and he gave them the usual feast of visuals and hits. He played the main role in the opening number, “The Black Widow,” his costume accessorized with a rack of three spidery legs attached to each arm and with lights flashing from his hands. He also brought out his boa constrictor, which he wore around his neck, like a feather boa. The two-story Frankenstein made an appearance. So did the guillotine, which was employed in the subsequent beheading. And there was plenty of fog and smoke and dramatic lighting effects.
The setlist was classic Alice Cooper, going back to “Widow,” “Halo of Flies,” “Muscle of Love” and “Cold Ethyl,” and included most of his best-known songs: “I’m Eighteen,” “No More Mr Nice Guy,” “Only Women Bleed” and “School’s Out,” which he mashed up with a couple of choruses from Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall, Pt. 2.” The crowd sang along all night but was at its loudest when he let it finish one of those choruses.
Throughout the set, his music revealed the breadth of its influence. Here and there, songs evoked the sounds and styles of those who followed, from Metallica and various hair-metal bands to Rob Zombie and Marilyn Manson.
Cooper turned 64 in February, but decades of clean living (and lots of golf) have kept him in good shape, physically and vocally — a necessity for a 90-minute set that requires a lot of exertion.
He was supported by a stout five-piece rock band that included guitar whiz Orianthi Panagaris, who made herself eminently conspicuous as a band member in “This Is It,” the post-mortem Michael Jackson documentary. She and the rest of the band took over the stage at the end of “Halo of Flies,” delivering an extended drum solo and a choreographed three-guitar/bass flourish.
The props and theatrics kept coming all night. During “I’m Eighteen,” like some hard-rock maestro, he directed his band by waving a crutch. A giant rag doll was mauled and assaulted during “Only Women Bleed” and “Cold Ethyl.” Cooper’s severed head was tossed about in the guillotine scene during “I Love the Dead.” During the encore, “Elected,” he wore a spangled Uncle Sam costume and waved a flag, joined by two masked men posing as Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama.
In the end, the founding father of shock rock and creator of “Welcome to My Nightmare” left his big crowd more amused than frightened or disturbed. Especially these days, it’s good to know that some things stay the way they used to be.
To reach Timothy Finn, call 816-234-4781 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at Twitter.com/phinnagain. Read more from him at our music blog, Back to Rockville, at KansasCity.com.
by TIMOTHY FINN
Kansas City Star
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