Alice Cooper | 06.16.12

live alice-cooper_75Cooper performed with a passion and energy usually reserved for performers half his age.

 

live alice-cooper_288The Pageant, St. Louis

Who could have ever guessed way back in 1969 that some crazy kid named Alice Cooper would still be terrorizing fans on a world tour, much less promoting a brand-spanking-new album? You could probably count on one hand the number of artists from that era still actively touring and releasing new material, but Cooper carries with him one notable exception that puts him at the top of this small, prestigious group: He’s a classic rocker whose fans actually appear to be getting younger with every passing year. As evidenced by his show at the packed-to-the-gills Pageant, Cooper’s devout followers include the old-timers, of course, but also present and accounted for were a legion of fans in their teens and ’tweens. So what’s the secret?

In a time where dressing up and putting on a show is considered way-uncool by modern-day rock-star hipsters, Cooper makes no apologies for pummeling his audience with haunted-house theatrics and monster-sized riffs. After the PA revved the audience with Vincent Price’s spoken intro to the 1975 track “The Black Widow,” Cooper hovered over the stage on a platform wearing a jacket that gave him extra spider-like appendages. Cooper reigned over the crowd like a zombie king returning to reclaim the land of the dead, and his followers were hungry for rock ’n’ roll with meat on its bones.

Helping to supply the musical muscle was a nail-gunning powerhouse of a rhythm section, and a trio of guitarists led by Orianthi, whom fans may remember as Michael Jackson’s lead guitarist on his ill-fated This Is It tour. Her tasteful and deft guitar work was astounding, and she was a perfect foil for Cooper, particularly on the song “I’ll Bite Your Face Off” from his current long-player Welcome 2 My Nightmare.

Considering the fact that he has a songbook dating back over 40 years, choosing what songs to play can’t be an easy task. Having said that, the set list was nicely balanced between classic tracks such as 1971’s “Under My Wheels” and “Halo of Flies” from 1973, to more modern tracks including “Caffeine” and “Brutal Planet.” Along with the nuggets for the hardcore fans, the hits were given their rightful place, as well, as Cooper performed spirited renditions of “I’m Eighteen,” “Only Women Bleed,” and “No More Mr. Nice Guy” with a passion and energy usually reserved for performers half his age.

live alice-cooper-bloodAnd how about the stage show itself? After over four decades in the game, the theatrics are as eye-popping and fun as they’ve always been. Cooper was decapitated by guillotine, ran a sword through a pesky onstage photographer, turned into a towering monster for the second half of “Feed My Frankenstein,” fried a groovy ghoul in an electric chair, and shook a spear of money over the crowd during “Billion Dollar Babies.” The utterly useless Rock and Roll Hall of Fame may have been more than a few years late finally inducting the shock-rock icon, but countless glam rockers and metal heads have always known the truth about their hero.

The show closer was “Elected,” which saw Cooper retake the stage in a star-spangled getup, and refereeing a faux-fight between two men masked-up as Obama and Romney. After stating “We’ve got problems in St. Louis! We’ve got problems in Joplin! We’ve got problems in Kansas City!” he ended his mock tirade with “And I don’t care!” It was clear from the roar of the crowd that, if it were election night, we might just have a President named Alice in the White House. Performers like this are a very rare commodity these days, so next time Alice Cooper haunts your ’hood, you’d be well advised to pay your respects. | Jim Ousley

Photos by Nick Licata

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