Alice Cooper Concert Review
Born Vincent Damon Furnier, the shock rock icon known as Alice Cooper has been good to Louisville. He rarely mounts a tour that fails to stop somewhere within city limits, opening his last two tours just over the bridge at the Horseshoe Casino in Southern Indiana.
The first leg of the “No More Mr. Nice Guy” Tour opened at the Horseshoe and debuted the first song from his latest CD, “Welcome 2 My Nightmare,” before anyone else in the world had heard it. That show also debuted Distortions Unlimited’s gigantic, fifteen foot tall FrankenAlice which was filmed for the Travel Channel’s “Making Monsters” series last Fall.
This week Alice brought the horror show to the Iroquois Park Amphitheater to give us a taste of Halloween in June. I don’t think there’s a venue left in Louisville that Alice hasn’t played, from the Palace to Freedom Hall to the Kentucky State Fairgrounds & Expo Center, and I just can’t resist the opportunity to witness his perpetual descent into madness whenever he comes through town.
The show opened with a theatrical narration by Vincent Price that introduced the classic Cooper favorite, “The Black Widow,” which was appropriate since Alice Cooper has become the Vincent Price of Rock and Roll. Unlike most rockers of his generation, age has never been a factor that his critics have used against him. Like the horror stars of old such as Price, Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi, whose bogeyman careers didn’t even start until middle age, Alice Cooper is the villain of Rock and Roll. Age just seems to make him more sinister.
My first experience with Alice Cooper as a wee Phantom was catching sight of the LP cover for “Alice Cooper Goes to Hell” (1976) while shopping with my parents at a local department store. It scared the Hell out of me! After seeing his gruesome, green, grinning visage and hearing “Billion Dollar Babies,” I was convinced that this man who called himself Alice must be a sick and evil individual indeed. The hooks were in!
It would be ten years later in 1987 at Louisville Gardens that I first experienced the Alice Cooper nightmare in person, and I still have the ticket stub and a piece of a giant inflatable eyeball to prove it (SEE PHOTO BELOW). Alice was touring his “The Nightmare Returns” show and he had managed to fit in perfectly with both the 80′s heavy metal scene and the 80′s horror/slasher boom, even recording a theme song for Jason Voorhees, “The Man Behind the Mask,” for “Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives.”
Today, Alice has left his crazy rock star lifestyle behind him. He’s a reborn Christian who has traded his alcohol addiction for a golf obsession and he’s in better shape than most guys half his age. He threw out the first pitch at the Louisville Bats game (perfectly!) Monday night where he received a Bats jersey that he wore at one point on stage during the concert. His player number was “18,” and the front of the jersey said “Bats.” When he turned around, the back of the jersey said, “Alice is.” I just love the man’s sense of humor.
Alice is currently touring with one the tightest lineups he has ever played with. Bass player Chuck Garric has developed such a charismatic stage presence over the years that he can and does completely command the audience when Alice is offstage.Guitarist Tommy Henriksen is obviously having the time of his life bringing energy and joy to the show, and Glen Sobel’s stunt drumming brought the audience to the “ohhhs” and “ahhhs” of a fireworks show. Alice’s secret weapon on this tour, however, is 24 year old blond spitfire guitar goddess, Orianthi. She has shared the stage with the likes of Steve Vai and Carlos Santana, and was the intended lead guitarist for Michael Jackson’s ill fated last tour. Her blistering solos rallied the crowd at the Iroquois Amphitheater into a frenzy.
Alice played a fistful of expected classics like “I’m Eighteen,” “Under My Wheels” and “No More Mr. Nice Guy,” while mixing in more recent songs like “Brutal Planet,” “Hey Stoopid” and his biggest charting hit, “Poison.” He also played a couple of tracks off his latest record, “Caffeine” and the Rolling Stones influenced, “I’ll Bite Your Face Off.”
In my haunted opinion, the best moment and anchor of the entire show was an epic rendition of the too rarely heard masterpiece, “Halo of Flies.” Cooper corralled his four guitar players (including guitarist Ryan Roxie) together and stood in front of them like a mad orchestra conductor with a baton leading them through a truly face melting electric instrumental.
Shock theatrics were also out in full force, as Distortion’s monstrous FrankenAlice attacked the band during “Feed My Frankenstein” and Alice met his fate under the guillotine after his murderous behavior during “Wicked Young Man.”
The set closed with the Cooper fan favorite “School’s Out,” and the encore included giant balloons, confetti, a staged battle between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney and Cooper in a glittery tuxedo singing “Elected.”
Louisville couldn’t have asked for a better trick-or-treat on a Tuesday night in June. I even spotted local broadcasting legend and self confessed Monster Kid, Ray Foushee sitting dead center in front of me. Foushee hosted his own monster movie marathon series, “Memories of Monsters,” on WDRB-41 back in the 80′s. You can see the happy back of Ray Foushee’s head in my photo of the band opening the show (SEE PHOTO: black t-shirt, center frame)!
My coachman’s hat off to the people of the Iroquois Park Amphitheater for hosting and pulling off such a horrifying hootenanny! Until next week, this is the Phantom of the Ville, listening to Alice Cooper’s 2010 single, “Keepin’ Halloween Alive” (three hundred sixty five!) until the leaves turn brown. See you out there in the Ville!
~The Phantom of the Ville