Story and Photos By Andy ArgyrakisNo matter what time of the year, Alice Cooper is an all around entertainer pouring his entire essence into each and every performance. But there's something special that takes place during the month of October as the ghostly rocker comes out of his bat cave for a balls to the wall onslaught of blood, guts, gore and a Halloween centered bonanza. For a guy so old he's influenced the likes of Ozzy Osborne, Rob Zombie and Marilyn Manson, it's quite a testament to his stamina and endurance, proving that sometimes the old timers in all of their excess are often times more appealing than the current tastes of today.
But that's not to say Cooper can't compete with the top dogs of heavy rock and roll circa 2005. He's just released an excellent CD of bar room brawlers and bawdy snarlers called Dirty Diamonds that any garage rocking fan of The White Stripes and the gazillion copy cats could gravitate towards, along with anyone enthralled with vintage Rolling Stones. Of course this project was on display throughout an incredibly theatrical set that pitted Cooper against his past with moments of self-parody, times of true, dramatic brilliance and an all around spooky, seasonal glow. Fresh cuts like "Woman of Mass Distraction," "Sunset Babies (All Got Rabies)" and "Dirty Diamonds" all exploded with raucous riffs, grimy yowls, riveting percussion and a back to basics approach. The material hearkened back to the less glam infested Eyes of Alice Cooper era, though were all still exhilarating on stage.
However, it was Cooper's catalogue that was the true draw and he obliged everyone with the true essentials. At this point in his career, golden oldies like "Billion Dollar Babies" and "Department of Youth" could have grown very stale (especially after having performed them hundreds if not thousands of times) but Cooper kept them current and seemed to truly enjoy their unruliness. "No More Mr. Nice Guy" was an early moment of all out karaoke for the audience, during which the band sliced and diced their way through the mascara man's sinister shouts. "I'm Eighteen" and "School's Out" continue to be staples of Cooper's career that continue to transcend generations with their applicable messages of partying and rebellion, while allowing all the parents who brought their children to co-celebrate the craziness.
Several spectacles were also peppered throughout the evening, recalling many of Cooper's most eye opening spectacles from yesteryear. To accompany "Welcome to My Nightmare," he held a slimy boa constrictor that wrapped around his body so tightly it made attendees squirm. Come "Only Woman Bleed," he was restrained to the confines of a straight jacket, though he eventually broke free. However, his emancipation didn't last long as he was soon led to a guillotine as punishment where he faced a fake ceremonial head chopping. After coming back to life (ironically out of a coffin) Cooper bounced back with additional tongue and cheek humor, including a hysterical bit where he knocked a Paris Hilton look-a-like off a crutch causing her to topple over. As if that wasn't enough, he went absolutely ballistic during encores like "Poison" and "Under My Wheels," throwing everything from blown up beach balls to bead strings to his cane at fans. Sure, these shticks were absolutely over the top and sound totally insane in print, but this mayhem was just as important as the music keeping Cooper on top of the shock rock scene to this very day.
Opening the show was New Orleans' mainstays Supagroup, who were especially brave in attending after falling victim to the hurricane. However, having that tragedy seemed to breathe additional life into its already insane live show that mirrored a modern day AC/DC. Amidst comical fog blasts, the guys plowed through colorful cuts like "Ready To Go" and "Hot Times" off its latest CD Rules, following right in the headliner's footsteps as an entity of this generation to keep an eye on.
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