Live Review: Alice Cooper in Mashantucket, CT
There are people who like holidays, and then there are people who love holidays. And people who love holidays like Halloween tend to enjoy doing over the top stuff when the opportunity presents.
So imagine, if you will, the enthusiasm of a sold-out crowd on Halloween night when the guest of honor is none other than the master of macabre himself, Alice Cooper.
As the clock tolled 9 on Halloween eve, the lights went down at the MGM Grand at Foxwoods Resort Casino in eastern Connecticut, and a sneering, svelte Alice Cooper hit the stage for a 100-minute-plus set of Psycho Drama.
Sounding better than ever, the leather-clad Cooper moved around the stage wielding all manner of objects, from a cane that complimented his occasional top hat, to a riding crop--which some fan took home after it was chucked into the crowd--to several swords, to an obviously fake baby doll that was skewered on a bloody stake.
The latter was a perfectly creepy compliment to "Dead Babies," from the 1971 album "Killer."
You know, run-of-the-mill props for a performer like Cooper.
There was no slithering boa constrictor to be found, despite the fact that a live snake played such a central role in many previous appearances. Maybe Cooper just got tired of hearing from whining animal- rights supporters. But his affinity for showcasing the dark side of human nature was alive and well as Cooper first pummeled a female mannequin during "Cold Ethel," and mimicked slitting the throat of one of his female touring troupe members with a gratuitous gush of blood that would have made Sweeney Todd envious.
Then, Cooper paid the price for his horrific shenanigans, first being bound up in a straight jacket for one of the highpoint numbers of the show, the "Ballad of Dwight Frye," before being strung up on makeshift gallows to pay the ultimate price for his sins.
In between, it was the raucous audience that reveled in Alice Cooper's many dark and devious prescriptions, screaming along with hit after familiar hit. From an opening cavalcade that included "No More Mr Nice Guy," "Under My Wheels," "I'm Eighteen" and "It's My Body," to the encore strains of "Billion Dollar Babies" and "Elected," the Coop remained in top form, putting on a show that belied his 60 years.
While it did not play a major role in the Halloween set, Cooper teased the crowd with two numbers from his latest offering, "Along Came a Spider." The concept album, which Cooper recently told SoundSpike he is readying for a fully staged 2009 tour, was represented by "(In Touch With) Your Feminine Side" and "Vengence Is Mine."
His last concept album, 1975's "Welcome to My Nightmare," got more attention, with the haunting guitar riff of the title track pitching his dedicated fans into delirious fits of joy as a nation of costumed zombies limped and danced around the stage like rejected extras from Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video.
The aforementioned "Cold Ethel" fed into Cooper's first big crossover hit, "Only Women Bleed," which actually got airplay on easy listening stations back in the day. Frightening!
The period between "... Nightmare," and "... Spider" was also well represented with the crunching power chords of "Feed My Frankenstein," "Poison," "Lost in America" and "Dirty Diamonds," which found Cooper dangling dozens of fake diamond necklaces over his head before tossing them into the roiling throng that gathered in front of the stage.
To classify Alice Cooper as an "aging rock star" might bring on an evil curse, or the wrath of his many minions. But it is amazing to see the artist in such great form in 2008, and realize that, when his first high-charting single hit the charts in 1970, the tune was keeping company with syrupy numbers like The Carpenters' "Close to You," Neil Diamond's "Cracklin' Rose" and BJ Thomas' "Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head." Cooper's longevity is a tribute to his love of showmanship combined with a talent for scripting songs that resonate a little more with his audience's dark side.