While most people his age are welcoming retirement, the 62-year-old Cooper is still welcoming them to his nightmare.
Long before Zombie, there was Cooper (aka Vincent Damon Furnier). Drawing inspiration from horror movies, vaudeville, heavy metal and garage rock, Cooper, who received his long-overdue nomination in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year, is the undisputed pioneer of grandly theatrical and violent stage shows.
Kicking off his 80-minute, 20-song set into high gear with the sound of a dismissal bell, Cooper belted the anti-educational system classic, “School's Out.” Decked out in leather jacket, pants, boots and twirling a ringmaster's baton, Cooper spit out his lyrics with a refreshing, in-your-face cockiness and swagger that erased the years and woke up the adolescent rebel inside.
For Cooper's set, it is hard to say which number was higher, the bona fide hits, the acts of bodily harm depicted on stage, or the final body count.
On “Wicked Young Man,” the mascara-challenged Motor City macabre man skewered a stagehand in the heart with a microphone stand and, subsequently, was strapped into a crimson straightjacket.
Cooper lost his head, figuratively and (sort of) literally, during “Ballad of Dwight Fry” and, in the closest thing all evening to Shakespeare (and, believe me, that's stretching it), he momentarily sang to his freshly chopped head. Strolling on the stage with severed head in hand, Cooper proved that the heavy-duty rocker “Go to Hell” is still catchy as all hell.
In what quite possibly is the most scathing social commentary yet on ObamaCare (although Cooper has been doing the same kind of schtick for 40 years), Cooper was stabbed with a 6-foot hypodermic needle by the sexy, sadistic Nurse Rozetta (played by dancer Tiffany Lowe) during the '80s head-banger “Poison.” The object of Cooper's infliction did a striptease behind a hospital curtain during “Be My Lover,” which ended with the singer strangling her with a pair of nylons. But a regrettable Cooper made amends for his dastardly deed (sort of) by tenderly singing to the nurse's corpse in the heartfelt ballad “Only Women Bleed.”
Cooper was swinging — from the gallows, that is — on “I Never Cry.” Suffering from more than ring around the collar, the singer's legs gave way underneath him and the crowd could clearly hear the sound of his neck snapping. Ouch!
Doomed but far from being done, Cooper re-emerged from the pit of hell dressed as a black widow (complete with multiple spider arms) for “Vengeance Is Mine.”
With a sequined top hat and tails (as well as a matching crutch), Cooper sang his breakthrough hit, “Eighteen,” as an encore, and the crowd liked it.
By Craig S. Semon