Saturday, August 27, 2011

No More Mr. Nice Guy

After three years of could-of, should-of, would-of, I finally saw Alice Cooper live in concert. On Aug. 17, Alice and his band performed at the Lifestyles Community Pavilion in Columbus. I was there (ah, the joy of free tickets from work), and it rocked. After more than 40 years in the business, Alice still puts on one hell of a show.

The usual favorites were played: "Poison," "I'm Eighteen," "No More Mr. Nice Guy" (the name of the tour), "Only Women Bleed," "Under My Wheels," "Feed My Frankenstein," "Hey Stoopid," and of course, "School's Out." I don't know how long Alice has gone with the three-guitar attack, but that setup gave the night a blistering, furious hard rock edge. Alice may be in his 60s, but he can still sneer, snarl, cackle, and shriek with the best of them.

Of course, you can't discuss an Alice Cooper concert with out describing his stage show. The show opened with "The Black Widow." When the curtain dropped, Alice appeared on top of a staircase tower, bathed in red light, his band below him, and spider legs protruding from his ribs. Sure, you could see the strings attached to his arms to follow his movements, but it was a suitably dark opening that set the macabre tone for the night.

Later, Alice brought out another creepy crawling favorite: a snake. For a rendition of "Is It My Body," he wrapped a snake around his neck and pranced around the stage. Certainly not as dangerous as it likely appeared in the 70s, but it's an old favorite. Personally, I've always wondered what the snake thinks of the stuff going on. My favorite was when Alice stuffed his head in a guillotine and chopped it off. Any artist willing to dismember himself for my entertainment just touches my heart.

Then it was time for mad scientist mode. Alice, wearing a lab coat and assisted by a deformed assistant, electrified a giant Frankenstein of himself. That thing was huge, its head reaching the top of the stage. This was one stage act I've never seen Alice have before, but it really worked. I almost wish he finished the rest of the show with that thing. Sadly, my camera's battery died, so I didn't get a picture. Still, seeing the monster rampage was worth seeing in person.

Alice capped off the show with an encore performance of "Elected." Wearing an Uncle Sam coat and hat (along with an Ohio State University Buckeye jersey with the "O" crossed out) and waving the flag, Alice sent the crowd home happy. "Columbus has problems. Cleveland has problems. Akron has problems. Personally, I don't care."

Watching an Alice Cooper concert is like watching contained anarchy. The music was solid and loud, and the antics were amazing and outrageous. Any fans out there would do well to catch him the next time he comes to town.

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