Hard Rock Live, Hollywood
October 27, 2013
Better than: Anything else you were doing on a Sunday night.
Supposedly, Alice Cooper is 65 years old. However, for those present last night at the Godfather of Shock Rock's show at Hollywood's Seminole Hard Rock Live, Cooper appeared a duality, still both a boy and a man -- but not yet an old man. A sea of fans, many donning their own representations of Cooper's iconic makeup, lined the venue's halls for what was, without a doubt, the zenith in late October rock 'n' roll rituals and a testament to Cooper's artistic vision.
Cooper performed without an opening act because, really, what could prepare anyone for an Alice Cooper show? The theatrics of the night were kicked off with a flash, a bang, and a curtain of sparks that rained down from above the stage as a trio of harmonized guitars wailed away from somewhere backstage. Standing defiantly atop a raised platform in a red and black version of the Beetlejuice suit recently appropriated by Robin Thicke, Cooper twirled a baton and led his band through the late '80s trash swagger of "House of Fire."
The singer patrolled the stage and gave order to the choreographed chaos, grimacing and gawking back at the riotous audience as he sneered through the song's lyrics. The band appeared to have recently spent some time turning over a Hot Topic, decked to the gills in distressed and dark threads that gave them the appearance of a post-apocalyptic troupe of roving rock 'n' roll pirates.
The excitement Cooper had stirred up with the exuberant entrance got ratcheted up another notch when the band cracked into the crunch of classic, "No More Mr. Nice Guy." Alice's crew of musicians hit their stride and bolstered Cooper's dramatic persona with a raucous sound that was beefy, but without betraying the spirit of the original songs.
Leading the three guitar assault of the evening was Orianthi. Perhaps best known as the guitarist Michael Jackson had hand selected for the This Is It tour that never happened, the diminutive young woman strutted about the stage beneath a large brimmed black hat and shredded out wah wah drenched solos from the guts of a blood-splattered Paul Reed Smith guitar to Cooper's (and the audience's) delight. During "I'll Bite Your Face Off," Cooper appeared to be singing directly to the guitarist, caressing her face with a leather glove'd hand while singing the lyric "Oh, delicious angel face", and following her around the stage amid the song's sleazy verses.
Cooper the entertainer was as superb as ever. During "Caffeine," he clutched a comically large coffee mug to his chest, swung it about the stage frantically, and drank deeply of its contents -- which were revealed at the end of the song to be confetti as Cooper dumped it upon the heads of crowd members in the first row. "Feed My Frankenstein" was a highlight of the night and ideal Halloween fare. Cooper wore a blood splattered lab coat, died, and was reanimated via a massive electric chamber. It smoked and sparked before dispatching a 13-foot tall Peter Boyle-esque Frankenstein's Monster to tromp around the stage for the remainder of the song.
Cooper subjected himself to what must have been his millionth beheading during "I Love the Dead," with the slap of a guillotine provoking a boisterous crowd-led singalong. As a roadie dressed as an executioner took a bite from the face of Alice Cooper's severed head, all felt right in the world of horror rock.
The show came to a close with a series of cover songs. Cooper led his band through snippets of the Doors' "Break on Through," the Beatles "Revolution," Hendrix's "Foxy Lady" -- which proved a proper feature for Orianthi and her blistering guitar work -- and finally the Who's "My Generation." The covers were all performed from a graveyard that had headstones and dates for each the luminary musicians responsible for the selected songs.
"School's Out" was the one and only encore of the show and ended with a crowd screaming at the top of their lungs under a shower of confetti that exploded forth from the stage while Cooper stabbed at massive balloons with a samurai sword. What might not be exactly shocking in 2013 was none-the-less entertaining, and Cooper remains a performer with few equals -- even at 65. The night ended with Cooper wishing the audience a happy Halloween despite the fact that "every day is Halloween for us."
Personal Bias: I'm not worthy.
Random Detail: Cooper's entire stage crew wore skeleton costumes. Even those not playing a role in the performance. I could see a skeleton guitar tech from my vantage point.
-"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"
-"Department of Youth"
-"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"
-"Under the Bed" (covers introduction)
-"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)