For those people who may think rock ‘n’ roll is dead I have headline news: IT IS ALIVE AND WELL AND HAS RISEN IN HOLLWOOD FLORIDA TONIGHT – IT’S KING IS ALICE COOPER.
There is no other artist in rock music that has had a bigger impact on stage theatrics and the ‘show’ aspect of music than Alice Cooper. Cooper’s live performances are legendary; from the guillotine, hangman’s noose, 12 foot Cyclopes, mannequins, and spiders that come to life, Alice has captured the imagination of rock fans around the world for nearly four decades. At a ripe young 62, Alice is still a maniacal genius who brings his nightmares (and ours) to life for nearly two hours onstage. This evening his “No More Mr. Nice Guy 2011,” show has descended upon the Hard Rock Live stage. I have personally seen Alice a few times over the years, and was fortunate and lucky enough to meet the man in the flesh; not the character Alice onstage but Vince Furnier, Alice’s true self. Yep, the guy who named himself Alice Cooper is really Vince. Isn’t that a kicker? If you know Cooper’s history at all, Alice Cooper was really the name of the band he started out in the 1960s. Deciding to change his name to one in the same, one of rock’s most enduring band of the 1970s flourished in the spotlight of shock rock and rumors gone wild. The more outrageous, the better seemed to be their motto. Though the stories have paled over the years some still remain ingrained in rock fans brains. At least Alice now knows by trial and error that chickens can’t fly.
Cooper’s stage presence is undeniable even after all these years. He not only commands the floor space but he shakes the rafters, blows off the roof and grabs each audience member by the throat and doesn’t let go. And we love every minute of it. I wasn’t sure which incarnation of Alice I would witness tonight. He’s done some transforming over the years even going ‘New Wave’ in the 1980’s. No matter, Cooper is always entertaining no matter what tricks or treats he has up his sleeve. This night was no exception.
The familiar and eerie voice of legendary actor Vincent Price came waving through the wall of sound. Yes, he worked with another musician before Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.”
As the gigantic Alice Cooper screen drops down from the top of the stage, Cooper stands holding court upon a huge iron scaffold. Sporting a black jacket with four extra arms attached – it is official: the Black Widow has arrived. His face painted in that familiar Alice Cooper mascara design the guy definitely knows how to make an entrance memorable. Playing into “Brutal Planet,” it is clear that this is not going to be a typical rock show. This is theater in the making and just the way Alice likes it, loud, louder and loudest. As with all of Alice’s shows no one left their seats. There was no run for the bathroom or to get snacks. One might miss something if you blink never mind get up and take a walk. “Feed My Frankenstein,” brought Mr. Cooper center stage dressed as the good doctor Frankenstein himself. Flashes and sparks ignite as the huge ‘creature/monster’ makes his dramatic entrance onto the stage to finish up the song with the band. Unfortunately for me during the song “It’s My Body,” his boa constrictor was also brought front and center draped around his shoulders then around his head.
Thankfully I was far enough way that I didn’t freak out too much. I don’t like the slippery slimy creatures. Now before you write me and tell me snakes are our friends and aren’t dangerous and all that stuff, save it. I don’t like them, and I’m sure they aren’t fond of me either. Or maybe they’d really like me. I’m short enough to make a nice meal. Sorry PETA. His set list ran through songs that spanned the scope of his career and had the floor of the arena on its feet the entire two hours of the show. From his early hits, “Billion Dollar Babies,” (complete with money being tossed out into the audience via his sword), “Eighteen,” “No More Mr. Nice Guy,” “Under My Wheels,” and “Muscle of Love,” to the later hits “Poison” and “Wicked Young Man,” the songs kept coming at a rockets pace.
The only tender moment of the show if you could call it that arrived as Alice sat on a trash can center stage with a single spotlight, the soft and gentle chords of “Only Women Bleed,” began. His female ‘partner,’ (mannequin) was sung to, danced with, and caressed gently; until…..the band ripped into “Cold Ethyl.” It was clearly a highlight of the set. She then got tossed around and beat up like an old worn out shoe. Cooper’s voice was great, every sneer and snarl was pitch perfect. I’ve never heard him sound better or stronger. His new single “I’ll Bite Your Face Off,” was a rip roaring good time and very reminiscent of the Rolling Stones. Alice even borrowed a couple of Jagger-esque moves. “Clones,” was a great surprise. “School’s Out,” is always a crowd-pleaser but this time around he added a little something extra; Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick In The Wall,” accompanied by huge confetti stuffed balloons.
He loudly exclaimed, “It’s party time.” It was pure genius and a great surprise. He brought out the silver spikes and leather for that one. My favorite part of the show is always the guillotine. In pure Cooper fashion and style, he was walked to the gallows, his head chopped off, and the chorus of “I Love The Dead,” filled the arena. This is precisely why I love rock ‘n’ roll. This is a show. No fancy dance numbers, no sync machines, just balls to the wall heavy riffing guitars, killer drum beats and great songs. His final tune “Elected,” blew the Hard Rock apart. Dressed in a long silver jacket with tails, a matching top hat, and waving a huge American flag, Cooper sang for our votes.
After a 100 show tour, the Hard Rock in Hollywood Florida was his final bow for the year. He bid us all a fond farewell, wished us a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. The Lord of Shock Rock has returned with “Welcome To My Nightmare 2,” (his new release on CD) and judging by this night’s performance he’s bigger and badder than ever. All hail Alice, welcome back to South Florida and our concert stage. Long live the King.