Friday, June 2, 2017

Review: Alice Cooper Live at Shreveport Municipal Auditorium (May 11, 2017, Shreveport, La.)

When rockers begin to get older, you expect to see it in their performance. But there was absolutely no evidence of a near 70-year-old man when Alice Cooper took the stage at the Shreveport Municipal Auditorium. There was only Alice Cooper — just as powerful and in command of the crowd as he’s ever been.

I’m not sure that the hallowed halls that once housed the famed Louisiana Hayride have ever seen a spectacle quite like they witnessed on this night.

Alice stormed out of the gate with the punishing title track from his 2000 record Brutal Planet, arguably his heaviest album and one of my favorites. He then proceeded to run through a series of fan favorite tunes – “No More Mr. Nice Guy,” “Under My Wheels,” “Lost in America” – without giving the audience room for so much as a breath.

In the early going, the famed theatrics were toned down and with the exception of a few coats and props coming out of Alice’s toybox, this was a straight-forward rock show — but a damned good one. Cooper had the audience in the palm of his hand from the first note, and never let them go.

Alice Cooper’s current entourage is, perhaps, one of the best bands to take the stage behind him, and they were showcased early and often. The three-guitar attack of Nita Strauss, Ryan Roxie (Slash’s Snakepit) and Tommy Henriksen (Warlock, Doro) provided plenty of flash, with Strauss getting most of the glory. The outstanding rhythm section of bassist Chuck Garric and drummer Glen Sobel formed the backbone, keeping hands clapping and heads bobbing all night long. The band was tight and energetic, as they had to be to keep up with the man at the front of the stage.

As the evening went on, Alice bounced around his catalog, building up to the big theatrical end to the show with small teases. The boa, of course, came out on “Welcome to My Nightmare” and the fencing foil loaded with dollar bills on “Billion Dollar Babies.” He ran through expected numbers like “Poison” and “Halo of Flies,” but also dropped in a few surprises for hardcore fans, like “Pain” from 1980’s Flush the Fashion and “Escape” from Welcome to My Nightmare.

The last third or so of the night, though, brought out the part of the show that has become legendary, starting with “Feed My Frankenstein,” where Alice appeared on stage as the Doctor in a bloody lab coat before strapping himself into the machine and “transforming” into a 10-foot-tall Frankenstein monster to close the set.

Familiar props and characters then began to pop up to the delight of fans. The doll got thrown around on “Cold Ethyl,” and Nurse Sheryl made her first appearance getting roughed up a bit on “Only Women Bleed,” only to return stronger to torment a straight-jacketed Alice a little later on “The Ballad of Dwight Fry.” That, of course, culminated in Cooper’s most legendary stage stunt as the guillotine was wheeled out, and he lost his head. Garric then led the band in a partial rendition of “I Love the Dead” as the executioner paraded around the stage with Alice’s severed head.

A few minutes after his beheading, Alice Cooper stormed the stage again, this time dressed in a gold lame’ suit for a rousing performance of “I’m Eighteen” that brought the crowd to a crescendo, and would have been a great tune to end on, but he had one more trick up his sleeve.

After a brief break, the band returned for an encore of “School’s Out.” Confetti-filled balloons were tossed out to the audience and bounced around as Alice sang, lashing out with katana and dagger to pop the balloons and unleash the confetti as they came back toward the stage. He elicited another roar from the crowd as he deftly worked the “We don’t need no education” chorus of Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall” into the melody of his song, bringing a streamer and confetti-filled finale to a night that no one in the crowd wanted to see end.

A friend who was also at the show told me afterward, “Alice seems to have found the Fountain of Youth,” and I can’t disagree. I last saw him nearly 15 years ago on the Eyes of Alice Cooper tour, and the 2017 show was, if anything, even better. He’s at the top of his game, with a show that’s worth every penny of the ticket price.


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