On Sunday night, Alice Cooper and his band rolled into the State Theatre for a night that celebrated shock rock in all its excessive glory. Here is our quaint review.
Alice Cooper’s band features three very capable guitarists who volleyed solos amongst each other throughout the evening. The democratization of the riffs was handled smoothly with a kind of musical-chairs sequencing that put each “shred” under a literal spotlight and riser at center stage. For all of Alice’s outfit changes and the endless carousel of set pieces, this aspect of the show was the one consistent throughout. The solos were the glue that held the performances together; the imaginary sandwich condiment of the reader’s preference, enhancing the many flavors of this metaphorical shock-rock sandwich.
I’m sure the guitarist’s identities are readily available online, but we’re going to stick with the Halloween Costume signifiers I used in my notes and hope it paints a more illustrious word picture than whatever stage names these people use to obscure their identities. From stage left to stage right we have — Motley Crue Guitar Tech guitarist, Rock of Love Finalist guitarist, and left-field by way of CBGB’s Johnny Ramone guitarist. Rock of Love Finalist guitarist definitely got the wildest ovation at the end of the show for reasons that likely had more to do with the crowds demographic than any kind of proficiency dominance. As I mentioned before, everyone “slayed.” Can you guess which gender had the highest representation at the Alice Cooper concert?
Behind the mainstage was a double-bass drum kit that repurposed horror movie eyeballs onto each bass head. Next to the kit was a beautiful bouquet of baby doll parts, canes and scary masks. The drummer was such a wonderful showman that, at the beginning of the festivities, my gaze wandered mostly between him and Alice. However, as we found our wicked way through the evening I lost interest in the drummers many contraptions and manic stick twirling. That’s no slight against the guy, just an acknowledgment that his technical proficiency was no match for the oncoming onslaught of live boa constrictors, pyrotechnics, a 12 foot tall Monster of Frankenstein puppet or a functioning guillotine.
Suffice it to say, there was a real bonanza of a show happening on stage, which we can now talk about as everyone in the band has been introduced. Oh, shit. Wait! There’s a bass player in the band, too. I have him down as Nordic Fur Trapper Bass Man. Sorry bass players (not sorry).
Here’s a breakdown of the 10 most killer moments in last night’s Alice Cooper concert
The opening number and stage reveal were fascinating, leveraging audience anticipation in about as thrilling of a way as you could imagine in the opulent State Theatre. As the lights dimmed the audience was instructed over the PA to “pledge allegiance to the Black Widow” which, you guessed it, turned out to be our man Alice Cooper shrouded in a black cape, standing precariously under a shower of dripping white sparks. The band launches into the first song and the audience rises to their feet, where they will remain for the duration of our night with Alice.
I’m counting more than 10 costume changes for the Godfather of Shock Rock throughout the show. And that’s not counting the time he was transformed into a giant monster or that time he got his head cut off in the guillotine. My favorite costume was one from the beginning of the show, which is in my notes as: “Beetlejuice WWF champion.” Beetlejuice because of the striped suit (Alice’s were red and black to the fictitious juice man’s black and white), and WWF champion because of the most amazing belt buckle the world has ever seen. On Alice’s slight frame it took up the majority of his thorax. This needs a visual. The English language is a brittle, formless vehicle to describe such beauty.
The bassist tries to goad the audience into participating in a somewhat complex clap exercise that never gets off the ground. I’m not sure where the idea of having a clap that seemed to exist in two separate time signatures came from, but it might have been the most embarrassing moment in the evening for a guy who could easily be picked out of a line up with the descriptor “Nordic Fur Trapper Bass Man.” It was hard to tell if Alice Cooper was disgusted by the rookie move or oblivious as the sneer he was wearing at the time is sort of his resting rock 'n' roll facial position.
Alice brings out a cane which is tossed into the audience. Alice then grabs a whip which is quickly tossed into the audience. A sword with fake money is waved over the audience sending the first few rows of the historic State Theatre into a mad fake money frenzy. A long string of beads, various guitar picks, and drum sticks: tossed into the audience. Souvenirs’ a plenty, though none stronger than the elation and good will soufflé which is what all audience members took home.
Paparazzi Man makes his introduction. This is one of two characters (the other being an undead evil nurse) that will pop up a few times throughout the evening. Paparazzi Man is one of my favorite fictitious shock rock stage characters of all time, for reasons that should be apparent to anyone who’s made it this far into City Pages' Alice Cooper coverage. Paparazzi Man is evil. He is trying to compromise the spectacle. He keeps recklessly snapping photos of rock star Alice Cooper in his fifth decade of rock dominance. Paparazzi Man is whipped offstage by Alice. He will return.
Drum solo ends with fireworks shooting out of drum sticks. Alice returns with wardrobe that includes a necklace made out of a live snake! It was really loud in the venue which caused me to consider whether or not snakes would be disturbed by pop-metal despite their longstanding role as ambassadors within the genre. It is of course true that snakes has no arms, but do they has ears? How does vibration feel to snake? How does snake “feel?” ”
"FEED MY FRANKENSTEIN"! My favorite Alice Cooper song and the one you probably remember from Wayne’s World. The most elaborate set pieces of the night emerges: Executioners bring out a table which, at one point, electrifies Alice (playing the role of Victor Frankenstein) transforming him into a 12-foot tall monster with moving mouth parts that continues to sing the songs brilliant chorus. It’s impossible to describe how great this was; you’re going to have to trust me here. Grown men were weeping in the fucking aisles. Reflecting on this moment a day later, without all the serotonin and adrenaline coursing through my veins, I am left with the minor gripe that the performance lacked fidelity to the classic Mary Shelley novel on which the song was based.
Paparazzi Man returns. And this time, he’s even more obnoxious. Alice lets his emotions get the best of him, tears the clip off his mic stand and rams the blunt sword through Paparazzi Man (!), killing him instantly. A wonderfully fun moment, and one that saw the audience cheer wildly, believing Paparazzi Man's crimes fit the punishment of first-degree murder, completely exonerating Alice for his shocking crime.
Not so fast audience! There is a (unseen) trial after all. Capital punishment has been handed down. A guillotine is brought on stage. Our hero, who has committed no crime but killing a member of the press, is set to die before us. This is something I have never seen before. The blade comes down, separating Alice from his head. Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Alice Cooper sees his storied shock-rock career end tragically in Minneapolis. The crowd is in a state of shock. The executioner parades the severed head around the stage. The audience boos. A child is heard crying from the balcony.
Alice Cooper is risen! Turns out the prop guillotine was not enough to kill the immortal. The audience rejoices. The encore is, of course, “School’s Out,” but it is not without a surprise. Motley Crue lead singer Vince Neil — who will be performing at the Target Center on Tuesday, coincidentally with Alice Cooper opening — comes out and it’s just a wild celebration. Streamers are flying through the air. Fireworks are exploding. Giant balloons filled with confetti surge through the crowd before returning stageward to be stabbed by a knife wielding Alice Cooper. Everyone takes a much deserved bow.
Everything you could dream of and more. It was wild. Hail Satan.