Being as how Alice Cooper
had played the exact same set
for the five shows prior to his date at the Midland on Friday night, I wasn't really expecting any surprises. I knew there'd be a couple of tracks from last year's Welcome 2 My Nightmare
, and the rest would be heavily focused on those classic early albums - Love It to Death
, Billion Dollar Babies
. With Cooper, there's little hope for a deep cut like "Ballad Of Dwight Fry." You'll get the hits, but they'll be presented well.
Unlike most classic-rock acts still treading the boards, Cooper's still got the voice with which he recorded said hits. Having seen enough acts from his generation changing the phrasing of their songs to fit their now-limited range, it's refreshing to hear something like "Poison" still in possession of its drawn-out snarls.
And in a way, I understand why Cooper's set list is the same - it's less rock-and-roll free-for-all than it is a Broadway show. There's a stage set, choreography, costume changes - at various points in his show, Cooper will use a fencing foil, get chased by a monster ("Feed My Frankenstein") and dress as a gigantic spider king ("Black Widow"). The man will have his head cut off, people.
But of all the spectacle onstage, the most important one is that this is a dude old enough to be a grandfather singing songs about being 18 and glorying in the end of the school year and it's totally believeable
. That's the magic of all of this. Alice Cooper was born Vincent Damon Furnier over 64 years ago, and because he looks his 64 years (makeup notwithstanding), the pathos in lines like, "Lines form on my face and hands" really come out, twisting the lyrics into something different from what they were three decades ago.
And his band is a bunch of young turks, including guitarist Orianthi Panagaris, an amazingly talented axwoman whose leads and solos stole the musical aspect of the show. They lent an air of youth to the proceedings, and their backing vocals propped Cooper up the few times he wasn't able to quite hit the high notes. For part of the set, a three- or four-song stretch starting just before "Hey Stoopid," there was an annoyingly overloaded mic or pickup that kept popping when it would get too loud, making for a serious distraction, but other than that, the show went off without a single hitch.
This show was $25 in advance, $30 day of, and it was packed
. If it wasn't sold out, it was damned close. You factor in a full hour-and-a-half show, a spectacle of a show - costume changes, puppets, special effects and so forth - and paying the same amount to see the hot-shit act of the moment play 45 minutes starts to seem like more and more of a royal rip-off.