With a career that spans five decades, Alice Cooper is a rock and roll legend–hands down. When the chance to catch a legend live comes up, you pounce on it. I was fortunate enough to be offered a last minute ticket to the show. Needless to say, I was thrilled to mark the showman Alice Cooper off my list of concerts seen. I have several friends older than me who caught Alice in the 70s during his peek and the stories I heard were phenomenal. I was BEYOND ready to see Alice Cooper for the first time, and he didn’t disappoint.
Firstly, the venue is one of the most beautiful in all of Alabama. The Alabama Theatre has a long history, having been built in 1927 by Paramount’s Publix Theatre chain as its flagship theater for the southeastern region of the United States. It is simply gorgeous. It’s like going back in time every time you step inside its historical walls. No venue could have been better to watch Alice work his magic.
We were greeted with a sheet with eerie looking eyes staring at us. The atmosphere was electric. When the lights dimmed, everyone was on their feet. Alice’s voice boomed over the intercom: “Well, well, well. What have we here? Brave new visitors who are unfortunate victims. You have been invited into this nightmare world. Don’t look it directly in the eyes or you will be doomed to be his plaything and just another one of his broken toys forever. You have been chosen to spend the night…with Alice Cooper. It’s too late…he’s coming!” The curtain fell and what proceeded surpassed my expectations.
Everything was there: the showmanship, the spot on musicians shredding every note to the delight of the crowd, and Alice himself. At an age where one could forgive the man for just coming out and performing, he brought the stage show and performance art that he’s known for and put it all on display. He decided to play one of the major hits 2nd, and you could hear the entire Theater screaming out “No more, Mister Nice Guy…”. Every song included a change of apparel, provided by a toy box that people kept popping out of and handing Alice his new jacket.
Several events are worth mentioning as highlights. During “Only Women Bleed,” a young lady dressed like a wind up toy with chains on her wrists, broke free of her puppet strings so to speak and performed ballet as Alice sang. It was a very surreal moment, beautiful and tragic all at once. Another highlight was the appearance of a fifteen foot tall “Frankenstein” during the song of the same name. My jaw literally dropped when this monster of a prop came on stage and started mouthing as if he was singing. I thought that would be the biggest surprise of the night. I was wrong.
Perhaps the greatest theatrical performance I’ve heard of Alice doing in his career is the famous “Guillotine” act. I never thought I’d see it live, but as I saw this giant prop wheeled onto stage, my heart quickened. Could it be? Would he really? The black sheet was removed and there it was…the guillotine. I watched as a straight-jacketed Alice was forced into the contraption. I saw him struggle, scream, and then they beheaded him. I watched the whole thing and I’m still not sure how he did it.
The band that night was AMAZING! There were multiple solos performed by the band, including several dueling guitar solos. The band was spot on this night. The band was: Nita Strauss – Guitar Tommy Henriksen – Guitar Ryan Roxie – Guitar Chuck Garric – Bass Glen Sobel – Drums. I want to give a special nod to Nita Strauss who had a guitar solo that almost melted my face. The entire band left the stage and left Nita to work her magic and my fucking God did she deliver. I’ve seen John 5, Zakk Wylde, and some of the best in business. I’d put Nita up against any of them and feel assured she’d go toe to toe with them.
So how would I rate the show?
Venue: 5 out of 5
The band: 5 out of 5
Showmanship: 5+ out of 5
Overall Experience: 5 out of 5
Overall Score: 5 out of 5 (GO SEE THIS TOUR!!)
Maybe this reporter’s just been lucky, but recently the shows have been amazing.
Photographs: Property of Cecilee Eddy (used with permission) or my own.
Jay Michael Wright II