Saturday, October 26, 2013

Alice Cooper Raises the Dead in Wilkes Barre

In this era of music, it seems that some of these newer bands lack a great stage show. If an artist is going to perform live, they got to give their fans a show. This is something that Alice Cooper would muss about. The godfather of shock rock, now 65, gave his fans in Wilkes Barre, PA a show on October 18, 2013 in a sold-out concert at the FM Kirby Center.

            The show began a little after 8 pm to the sounds of screaming fans. The lights went out and the curtain dropped, ushering in a mushroom of smoke. Out the smoke came the one and only, Alice Cooper. The audiences roared with applause as Alice and his band went into “Hello Hooray”, a perfect song to open the show as it opened the Billion Dollar Babies album 40 years ago.  Next came “House of Fire” from 1989’s Trash and then came the hits- “No More Mr. Nice Guy” and “Under My Wheels”. During the former, Alice led the crowd in singing the chorus- conducting the high notes with the lift of his cane.

            Props came out during songs such as “Billion Dollar Babies” and “Caffeine”, in which Alice came out with a sword stuffed with big dollar bills and a large white mug respectively.  One thing to note about Alice Cooper is that when he is on stage, he is in character (that is also named Alice Cooper). Some might note that Alice doesn’t talk in between songs. His is because he’s in character. This show was no different: during “Dirty Diamonds” in which Alice threw out necklaces into the crowd, he made eye contact with one of the audience members as if he was going to give this person one. But no: Alice gleefully threw the necklace elsewhere.

            The band Alice had with him was great throughout the show. Of the people in Alice’s band, Australian guitarist Orianthi stands out the most. She might sound familiar as she was the guitarist for Michael Jackson for his ill-fated This Is It concerts in 2009. She won the crowd over with her impressive guitar solos. She was dressed in a black coat and hat, as if she were a female Ritchie Blackmore.

            Fan favorites such as “Welcome to My Nightmare”, “Go to Hell” and “Feed My Frankenstein” came next. Much to my surprise, Alice and the band played “He’s Back”- the song he made for Friday the 13th Part VI. One of Alice’s actors came out as Jason Voorhees during the song. More theatrics came into play during “Feed My Frankenstein”, in which Alice was put into a contraption to disappear and turn into a tall Frankenstein looking monster that took up nearly the entire stage! Alice came back, decked out in a straitjacket for “Ballad of Dwight Fry” which was followed by Alice’s traditional death by guillotine.

            After the beheading, Alice was rolled back in on a hospital stretcher for the next part of his show: cover tunes. While many may roll their eyes at this, I actually found the concept for this part of the show to be clever. When Alice came back on stage, a voiceover explained how Alice has cheated death and has now joined his dead rock star friends- the Hollywood Vampires. Alice then covered “Break On Through” (for Jim Morrison), “Revolution” (for John Lennon), “Foxy Lady” (for Jimi Hendrix) and “My Generation” (for Keith Moon). The covers were all pretty good and fun to hear. Alice is actually planning for his next album to be all covers. I wasn’t crazy about the idea when I first heard it but after seeing this, I’ll be interested in what Alice comes up with.

            The covers were followed by “I’m Eighteen” and “Poison”, both of which were crowd pleasers and had the audience singing along. For the encore, the band went into “School’s Out”. A bubble machine was on during the performance, much like the original Alice Cooper band had when they were on Top of the Pops performing the song. Alice led the audience in singing the song’s famous chorus before yelling “It’s party time!” Alice was not kidding: confetti and streamers went off and fell onto the audience while big balloons were thrown into the audience, which Alice popped with his cane. Alice then introduced his band before saying,

“Thank you, Wilkes Barre! Happy Halloween!”

            Seeing Alice Cooper in concert was amazing. Even at his age, he still knows how to put on a show. This was my second time seeing him, the first time being in 2006. I think I preferred this show because of the setlist and location. With this being my senior year at King’s College, I’m glad I was able to see at least one of my favorite artists while here in Wilkes Barre. I guess I am worthy. Thanks, Alice!
           

Setlist
1.      Hello Hooray
2.      House of Fire
3.      No More Mr. Nice Guy
4.      Under My Wheels
5.      I’ll Bite Your Face Off
6.      Billion Dollar Babies
7.      Caffeine
8.      Department of Youth
9.      Hey Stoopid
10.  Dirty Diamonds (with drum and guitar solo)
11.  Welcome to My Nightmare
12.  Go To Hell
13.  He’s Back (The Man Behind the Mask)
14.  Feed My Frankenstein
15.  Ballad of Dwight Fry (with excerpt of Killer)
16.  I Love The Dead
17.  Break On Through
18.  Revolution
19.  Foxy Lady
20.  My Generation
21.  I’m Eighteen
22.  Poison

Encore

23.  School’s Out (with Another Brick in the Wall Pt. 2)

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