Thursday, April 12, 2018

Alice Cooper 2018

I wasn’t planning on writing up a full post on seeing Alice Cooper for the third time with my family.

I figured I’d end up overusing “awesome” again and repeating myself describing “A Paranormal Evening With Alice Cooper” tour we saw on March 9th in Morristown’s MPAC Center.

However, since it was - in fact -  awesome, here’s a list of observations that felt new and…

But first, speaking of awesome, how about Alice as King Herod in Jesus Christ Superstar?  That whole production was epic to begin with, but who else could have pulled off a vaudevillian villain song in the middle of a rock opera?

On to the concert list:

Due to car trouble and storm issues, the chaos of the week before meant we didn't take my car, where I was listening to the Alice Cooper playlist, and I forgot to grab a CD when entering my wife’s car, where my daughter had placed the new music I just got for my birthday. Therefore we travelled to and from a live performance of the founder and reigning king of the Theatrical Horror Rock ‘n Roll Genre listening to the Monkees.  Since Micky Dolenz was one of the original Hollywood Vampires, it was allowable.  Here’s hoping Micky will be on the next album with Alice, Joe Perry and Johnny Depp.

Similar to thinking I wouldn’t write about it, I also foolishly expected not to purchase yet another Alice Cooper shirt.  However, they had one based on my favorite album, From the Inside, chucking that idea out the window of the padded room as well.  My daughter was in a similar boat, since most of Alice’s designs would cause issues at school, but the black backgrounded two headed cover photo from the new album worked nicely. 

While still questioning the need for the entire audience to ignore the perfectly good chairs we all paid to sit in, my daughter was happy she had grown enough to see over the crowd and not have to peek between people to watch the show.  She did continue her tradition of wearing something pink and frilly to stand out from the standard Alice fan.  That’s my girl!

Alice knows what the fans want. Most bands focus on their latest release.  He only played two songs from Paranoia, but a whopping seven from Killer and Billion Dollar Babies.  Due to props, giant monsters and torture devices, there are standards in an Alice show, but he always throws in some rarities for us diehard fans from different time periods.  This time it was “Serious” from his Seventies Solo period (From the Inside YAY!  In the commentary for that concert film, Alice said it was the hardest song to do live due to running out of breath.  Now he's almost forty years older and the performance is better!), and “Lost in America” (sadly with more relevant lyrics now) from the Nineties awesome and underrated Last Temptation.

After watching multiple performances, I'm convinced that if a Rock ‘n Roll guitarist tried to walk across the stage normally, without leaping, skipping, duck walking, or some other strange motion no matter the tempo of the song (and in some cases in between songs) they would spontaneously combust.

Taking in another outstanding performance of the ever amazing “Hurricane” Nita Strauss on guitar, I kept thinking of the right words to describe her.  I’d start with “blonde” and then stop myself, because her appearance shouldn’t be the focus of the statement. After about the sixteenth try, I realized it had nothing to do with her gender. It’s all about her playing style. She truly was a Whirling Blonde Mane of Guitar Awesomeness.

Alice brings in staggeringly talented musicians and always highlights them. This is not a new discovery on my part, or on the part of anyone who’s seen him live, as he lets each and every one take center stage to showcase their considerable skills. That is, except from drummer Glen Sobel, who stayed up by his drum kit. It was still given a focus, since the twirl filled awesomeness of his solo was highlighted and introduced by Chuck Garric starting out with a bass solo center stage.  “Mr Beasto Blanco” (missing some umlauts on that one) then diverted attention to the drum set occupant, aided by “GET LOUD” written in duct tape on the back of his instrument.  Ryan Roxie got several lead features, including a beautiful one on a double necked guitar (six and twelve stringed) during "Only Women Bleed." Tommy Henriksen had multiple moments on the center platform as well. Seeing both lead guitarists and the rhythm guitar get rockin’ solos was nothing new for an Alice show. Playing with Alice, they're all kind of lead guitarists anyway, some just lead more than others. What was new was my learning “Halo of Flies” was specifically written to show the band could perform a longer complex musical suite. They could do it back with the original line up, and they continued to do it today.

The crowd continued to be widely distributed. There were multiple attendees younger than Anabelle, and a decent cross section of standard teenage metal heads.  There were also bunches up closer to Alice’s age. A prime example was a group of guys in front of us.  Based on the songs they reacted to, they were a bit older than I.  Based on how they reacted to them, and each other, it was pretty clear they’ve been going to these shows together for decades.  There’s something really cool about someone who can appeal to a demographic that has to take off their reading glasses to headbang.

For the third time that I’ve seen him, Seventy year old Alice’s wife Sheryl (herself in her early sixties) played the Windup Toy”/ “Pretty Ballerina” for “Only Women Bleed” and “Nurse Sheryl” to straight jacket, be strangled by, and behead her husband. The two of them are absolutely adorable on stage together...
A macabre and twisted kind of adorable, but still adorable. 
I gotta believe one of the main reasons he’s still touring, besides the world’s greatest natural high, is that the two of them get to travel the world and goof around on stage together every night.  Romance is not dead, people…just a bit bloodied.

Normally, I avoid taking more than a picture or two at live shows.  I’m much more into experiencing the moment, than trying to record it, forcing myself to filter reality through a tiny screen in real time. 

Aside Rant- Seriously, there were people not even looking through their phones, but looking down at them during most of the show.  FOCUS ON THE NOW!  It doesn't last long!

However, there was a momentous occasion that made me take enough shots to get a half decent one.  When Alice revived in time for the finale of “Eighteen” and the encore of (of course) “School’s Out” an extra musician joined the group on stage.  It was original Alice Cooper Band bass player and co-writer of those two songs, Dennis Dunaway. He wasn’t announced until the band roll call at the end, but the way he was treated with a mix of excitement and deference by the rest of the gang on stage helped me figure out who he was. 

AWESOME!!!!!  WOO!!!!
And exactly one week before the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Alice Cooper Band
Again, AWESOME!!!!!  WOO!!!
Not to mention two and a half weeks before the Fortieth Anniversary of Alice filming his awesome, show modifying appearance on the Muppet Show.

Here’s the playlist. It’s not really for you, it’s for me. 
I haven’t reached “headbanging with reading glasses” stage yet, but I still forget things.

Click this link for the site I got it from that has some statistical analysis as well. Who knew there were so many geeky rockers?

Recorded Intro

Brutal Planet

No More Mr. Nice Guy

Under My Wheels

Billion Dollar Babies

Be My Lover

Lost in America


Fallen in Love

Woman of Mass Distraction

Guitar Solo
(“Hurricane” Nita Strauss- other guitarist solos peppered throughout)


Halo of Flies

Chuck Garric Bass soloish thing and Drum solo (I think, like I said, I forget things)

Feed My Frankenstein

Cold Ethyl

Only Women Bleed

Paranoiac Personality

Ballad of Dwight Fry

(Traditional head slicing instrumental part)

I Love the Dead
(Garric leads, Alice is headless)

I'm Eighteen
(With Dunaway, Awesome! - Woo!)

School's Out
(Still with Dunaway, Still Awesome!-Still Woo!)
(Includes band introductions & "Another Brick in the Wall Part 2" thrown in for jollies)

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