Alice can't wait for Halloween night!
Story and Photos by Tony BonyataWith all of the diplomacy of a well choreographed lynching, shock rocker Alice Cooper brought his Busby Berkeley-meets-Texas Chainsaw Massacre stage show to Chicago’s House of Blues last Tuesday, helping to inject a little pre-Halloween spirit into his sold-out crowd.
While the addition of some new elaborate stage props - oriental-designed totem pole, impaled heads of Asian men and fancy silk drops - helped set the tone for this tour supporting his new album "Dragontown," this was nothing more, and nothing less, than a standard Alice Cooper show.
But considering that a standard Cooper show is filled Gong Show gore, entertaining theatrics, a white-hot rock band, not to mention enough classic hits to choke a horse, why give his audience anything else? It worked like a charm some thirty years ago when he used stunts like making love to a live boa constrictor and getting strung up - public execution style, so if his audience is still screaming for his head, why change a good thing.
What’s amazing is that he’s able to transcend this ageless, menacing stage persona to new generations. While the majority of his audience were originally around to experience his first bloodletting in the early '70s, there was still a good turnout of younger fans, some even donning Alice's ill-applied eyeliner, curious to see, not only the man who (literally) loses his head onstage, but also that funny guy they see on the golf commercials that Dad watches.
Alice, fit and clad with trademark ghoulish eye-makeup and long, stringy black locks, was on the top of his game with biting vocals and engaging stage antics, as he stripped in and out of costumes like Cher doing Vegas. With his traveling henchmen, which included drummer Eric Singer from Kiss, Cooper ran through old favorite rites-of-passage anthems such as "School’s Out" and "I’m Eighteen," as well as slick versions of "No More Mr. Nice Guy," "Billion Dollar Babies," and "Welcome To My Nightmare." Although a couple of numbers such as "Teenage Frankenstein" temporarily stooped down to a lower heavy metal I.Q., newer material such as the title track from "Brutal Planet," along with "Triggerman" and "Sex, Death and Money," both from "Dragontown," proved that this macabre thespian still has what it takes to rock mean and hard.
Appealing to the nation’s recent sense of self-pride, the fiendish super-hero emerged for his encore garbed in a shirt emblazoned with our country’s flag and kicked into "Elected," before interjecting a sing-along-with-Mitch version of "God Bless America," while a character in a George Bush mask received a vengeful roar from the crowd as he ran onstage with a "Bin Laden sucks" t-shirt.
With all the props that we’ve seen countless times, such as the two-headed demon baby, straightjacket schtick, Hollywood mad scientist lab and blood-thirsty guillotine (which also took the head of Britney Spears by evenings end) you’d think we’d tire of it. But when it’s delivered with such a healthy sense of humor and fun, hard-rocking music it’s more like the guilty pleasure of watching a cheesy B-horror flick for the umpteenth time - only without the guilt.
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