You could complain that Alice Cooper's voice sounded strained Wednesday night at Hard Rock Live in Hollywood, Florida, but that would be like visiting the zoo and whining about the quality of the food. If you go see the Godfather of Shock Rock live, it's not to hear a fine baritone, it's for the sheer, utter spectacle. And last night Alice Cooper was an animal.
At 67-years old, Cooper moved around like a man half his age. Enthusiastic throughout the nearly two hour set, he unleashed horrors, fury, imaginative props, and countless pelvis thrusts.
Just past 8 p.m., a curtain featuring Cooper's trademarked ghoulishly madeup eyes was ripped from the stage to reveal a drummer, a bassist, and -- in one of the first examples of his love for excess -- three, yes three, guitarists. Clad in a matching red and black striped coat and pants, out walked Alice Cooper twirling a cane. He stood on a horizontal catwalk stationed at center stage and took control.
Like the cryptkeeper on that old HBO show Tales from the Crypt, Cooper narrated horror stories (albeit in lyrical form) that were sometimes metaphors for teenage alienation, but mostly just anthems meant to raise your fist to. Cooper's sidemen were equally afraid of any subtleties. The guitarists noodled with the best of them and the drummer pounded the skins relentlessly, never more so then during his extended solo. This came about halfway through the set, giving Cooper a chance to complete one of his many costume changes and marking the beginning of the truly theatrical second half of the show.
With the smoke on the stage at knee level, Cooper walked out in a sky high hightop singing "Welcome to My Nightmare." A couple songs later, during "Feed My Frankenstein," he was strapped to a vertical gurney. Smoke and pyrotechnics concealed his transformation into a twelve foot tall Frankenstein puppet.
When he next took the stage, Cooper was trapped in a straitjacket being harassed by an exotic dancer dressed like a nurse (who is usually played by his real life wife). Cooper breaks free and tries to choke her, only to be led to a guillotine where his head is chopped off as the band continues to play and a facsimile of his chopped off head is thrown around the stage.
But seconds later, Cooper is revived and playing cover songs originally penned by four great rock stars who didn't return from the dead: Jim Morrison's "Break on Through," John Lennon's "Revolution," Jimi Hendrix's "Foxy Lady," and Keith Moon's "My Generation." Again, you could complain that Alice Cooper's versions didn't sound as good as the originals, but again, you don't go to the zoo for nutrition. You go to see the lions, tigers, and severed heads.
House of Fire
No More Mr. Nice Guy
Under My Wheels
I'll Bite Your Face Off
Billion Dollar Babies
Lost in America
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
Break On Through (to the Other Side)