Alice Cooper Verizon Theatre, Grand Prairie Tuesday, February 10, 2015
When it comes to Alice Cooper, there are two indisputable facts. 1.) His Miliii-wau-kee cameo in Wayne's World was one of the best and most memorable cameos of all time; and 2.) The man knows how to put on one hell of a live show.
Neither of those facts were tested last night on Cooper's Dallas stop on the Raise the Dead tour at Verizon Theatre in Grand Prairie. But what was surprising was just how fresh the show could still feel after all these years, in all its campy, over-the-top glory.
Because Cooper has always secretly been the polite, albeit mascara-laden, rocker, he opened the show very shortly after the 8 p.m. start time. (Don't want to keep the fine paying folks waiting, do we?) From the moment the aging shock-rocker stepped onstage, it was obvious that not much has changed him, and especially his vocal abilities, over the years.
He jumped right into classic rock staples like "No More Mr. Nice Guy" with the ease of a seasoned vet. At 66, his voice still sounds eerily similar to what it did on those old albums. It almost feels unnatural.
When you really think about it, Cooper has been scaring children (and conservative parents) for so long, it doesn't seem plausible that he'd still be up there, kicking goth-rock's ass. But somehow, he does it. And he does it quite well.
Cooper plowed through the first half of the set with staples like "I'll Bite Your Face Off" while snapping bullwhips and grimacing menacingly as the audience, generation after generation of Alice Cooper fans, all watched intently.
While I am admittedly not a die-hard Cooper fan, I have to give it to him: He certainly knows how to put on a show for his fans. After all, putting on a "show" has always been at the heart of what he does. And interestingly, the musicianship in Cooper's shows is on par with the camp.
There were incredible drum solos and rockin' guitar riffs layered in with those giant, novelty-sized coffee cups, and the aging rocker perpetually pumped his fist, vacillating between singing and hate-flirting with the audience.
He even gets killed a few times during the show -- a part the very enthusiastic Cooper fan next to me kept waiting for. Repeatedly.
"Oh, man. I think he's gonna get killed now. Ooh -- he's totally gonna get killed now," proclaimed my seat mate. "See the giant guillotine? Cooper gets killed about three times in each show. Check it out!" he urged, gleefully.
And indeed he was right. Cooper was, in fact, preparing himself to be beheaded, with the help of a blood-thirsty nurse. His severed head was carried around stage like a campy trophy, and the whole thing was gory and awesome.
But, while fantastically performed, these murderous antics and the show were also panning out just like one would expect from the man who pioneered this campy, shock-rock style. The onstage antics are impressive, yes -- but perhaps not totally unexpected.
Well, not till you really step back and put things into perspective. Once you tune out the blinking iPhone, the pinging emails and all of the other adult responsibilities and step back from the decades-old familiarity of Cooper's show, it's easy to remember why he is so respected for his craft. As the Godfather of Macabre Rock, he damn near invented it, which is easy to write off as silly if you're not careful.
But think about the balls it must have taken for Cooper to throw caution to the wind five decades ago and embrace the campiness in all its horrific glory. He did so at a time when killing your frontman onstage (over and over again) was certainly not the norm.
Cooper has, since the '70s, remained true to his roots, not once straying from the theatrics he embeds his music in. His dedication to his craft earned him the staying power that ultimately paved the way for artists like KISS and Marilyn Manson to exist.
What's even more amazing is that the shows still work after 50 years. In fact, when Cooper's giant Frankenstein -- yes, from his Wayne's World-famous song "Frankenstein" -- was lobbed around the stage, it was downright terrifying. (Granted, maybe that was just the weed speaking, which by then was doing the rounds in the audience.) How often does a show have power after that many years?
Ultimately, I'd take being terrified again and again by the macabre stage show if it meant seeing Alice Cooper do his thing up there for five more decades. He truly is the gothic puppet master of olde, and as long as Cooper's willing to take the stage, we're lucky to have him.
Setlist: Hello Hooray (Judy Collins cover) House of Fire No More Mr. Nice Guy Under My Wheels I'll Bite Your Face Off Billion Dollar Babies Caffeine Lost in America Hey Stoopid Dirty Diamonds Welcome to My Nightmare Go to Hell He's Back (The Man Behind the Mask) Feed My Frankenstein Ballad of Dwight Fry I Love the Dead Killer Break On Through (to the Other Side) (The Doors cover) Revolution (The Beatles cover) Foxy Lady (The Jimi Hendrix Experience cover) My Generation (The Who cover) I'm Eighteen Poison
Encore: School's Out
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