Alice Cooper – [Live]

Friday, 23 October 2009

As my friend Ray recently said about Lemmy of Motörhead, some things do seem to “get better with age.” In this particular case, by “better” I mean “more creepy.” For most sexagenarian musicians, this would be a horrible fate. For Alice Cooper, it may just be what he has been working towards for all of these years.

Off-stage, he’s known as an avid golfer, a restaurateur, an actor and even a fan of The Simpsons but under the spotlight, Cooper’s morbid and vaudevillian sideshow comes to life…er, death. When his Theater of Death tour rolled into San Francisco, his fans — from the very young to the very old and everything in-between — were ready for a heaping helping of brutal rock theater from one of music’s most legendary personalities. Mixing rebellion, Halloween novelty and sheer musical power, the Theater of Death tour is a spectacle of horror and flat-out rock goodness.

Opening with sing-along fave, “School's Out” the 90-minute set was filled with nearly every hit from his massive 30-year career. Songs spanned the decades from the rowdy “Department of Youth” to “I'm Eighteen,” “Welcome To My Nightmare” and “Poison.” The music was incredibly tight and punchy thanks to tandem guitarists Damon Johnson and Keri Kelli and the hard-hitting rhythm section of Chuck Garric on bass and Jimmy DeGrasso on drums. As entertaining and visually stunning as the show is, it would be nothing more than a sensational carnival act if the music did not provide such a solid foundation.

Accompanying the musical assault were well-orchestrated scenes of carnage and mayhem on stage. Proving his immortality, Cooper was executed no less than four times by hanging, a giant poison-filled syringe, guillotine and by being spiked to death. He defiantly returns each time with new props including a straitjacket, wheelchair and a crutch made of bones. He is also occasionally joined by a cast of characters including Nurse Rozetta, who just added to the circus-like exhibition. The fact that Cooper can get cheap eats from the senior menu at Sizzler makes the whole event even more eerie. It’s the same type of thing that gave Vincent Price, Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing more cachet as they aged. Somehow, that old-school spookiness factor is always extremely effective.

Closing out the show, Cooper finished the set with “No More Mr. Nice Guy,” the bluesy thump of “Under My Wheels” and returned for an encore rendition of “School’s Out” for the fist-pumping crowd. For an evening of lurid entertainment, an Alice Cooper show is hard to beat.



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