When I was in the 8th grade I was listening to music like The Partridge Family, The Archies and The Monkees. A friend of mine at school told me that I needed to check out a singer called Alice Cooper. My response was “Who is she”? He explained to me that Alice was a guy and was one of the hottest acts in rock music at the moment. Well, I was sold just because of the name. I went out and got Schools Out and Killer. I can not tell you how many hours I spent in my room listening to these two albums. The music was amazing and the lyrics were like something I had never heard before.
Fast forward 40 years later. Alice Cooper is still my all time favorite rock singer and I was over joyed to find out he was returning to Nashville and bringing his Spend The Night With Alice Copper Tour to the Tennessee Preforming Arts Center. I was able to get a front row seat and I felt like a little kid waiting for Christmas to come the weeks before the show.
If you have ever seen Alice live, you know his concerts are not just concerts, they are shows. Dancers, props, costumes and the like is in each show. Alice always gives you your moneys worth.
The night of the show finally arrived. I found out that there was to be no opening act and that was just fine with me, just a full show of The Coop. When the lights dimmed in the venue you heard Vincent Price’s familiar voice from the Welcome To My Nightmare album during the song The Black Widow. The huge curtain that featured Alice’s eyes, in front of the stage dropped and the band broke into the song. A figure wrapped in a black robe walked slowly from the back of the stage, the one and only Alice Cooper!!! The band then started a song from one of those first two albums I bought as a kid Schools Out. That song was Public Animal #9.
Without missing a beat, the familiar riff from one of Alice’s biggest hits echoed thru the venue as they broke into No More Mr. Nice Guy. This song is a crowd favorite. There might have been a hand full of people in the sold out hall that was still sitting down but this song got those few on there feet and they would stay that way until the end of the show.
Alice has had so many hits over the years it is very hard for me to pick a favorite but the next two songs are in my top 5 for sure. The Killer album was full of very dark songs but also featured several songs that had that catchy sound to become Top 40 radio hits. The first of these was Under My Wheels. This is one of the first songs by Alice that I learned all the words to. It is always a crowd pleaser.
After Under My Wheels, Mr Cooper walked to the back of the stage and was handed a live prop for the next song, his trusty snake. That song was another one from the Killer album, Is It My Body. This part of the show has been featured for many years and the crowd always loves it. I think that is one thing that most people associate Alice with. Once while staying over night in a Nashville hotel, Alice’s snake got out of its cage and disappeared down the john in the bathroom. The snake reappeared days later when Charley Pride was staying in the same room!
One of Alice’s biggest albums in the 70’s was Billion Dollar Babies. The inside of the album featured a picture of the band holding a baby in Alice Cooper make up. (Try doing that today!) The next song was the title cut from that album. Alice strutted from one side of the stage to the next with a sword that had fake 100 dollar bills on it. He would shake the sword at the crowd and the bills would fall off to the waiting hands of the crowd.
One thing I like about Alice is that he always picks a song or two for each tour that might not have been a hit, but is a favorite of this diehard fans. For this show he pulled out a song from the Love It To Death album called Long Way To Go. It might not have been a familiar song to the casual fan, but I sure did love hearing it.
Over the years, just when you thought that you had heard the last of Alice Cooper, he would always come out with a new album and hit song to win over his old fans again and bring in more young fans as well. The next song was one of those. The song was Poison from the album Trash. It featured a smoking hot solo from the newest band member, Nita Strauss, she was a member of the band The Iron Maidens. At The Age of 29 she can out play any experienced guitar player out there. She is a force to be reckoned with!
For the next song, guitar players Nita, Ryan Roxie, Tommy Henriksen and bass player Chuck Garric lined up in front of drummer Glen Sobel as Alice, with baton in hand conducted them as they play Halo Of Flies, another song from the killer album, that featured a drum solo from Glen.
The next song was from the album Constrictor, Teenage Frankenstein and featured a huge Frankenstein monster running from one side of the stage to the other. This isn’t one of my favorite Alice Cooper songs but it seems to be a huge favorite of his fans so I can see why he includes it. Myself would have liked to hear something from Welcome To My Nightmare like Escape or Dept Of Youth but that is just my opinion.
The next part of the show was my favorite because it did feature songs from Welcome To My Nightmare. This album had so many great songs on it and this part of the show started out with one of the best ones from the album Cold Ethyl. Our hero sings the song to a life size stuffed female doll and turns into a real woman for the next number, one of Alices biggest hits Only Women Bleed.
He pulled out another rarity with the next song from the album Alice Cooper Goes To Hell. Alice confesses to the crowd that he is indeed Guilty. A sexy nurse appears and manages to get revenge on him by shooting him with a huge hypodermic needle and he sings the next song, The Ballad Of Dwight Frye from the confines a strait jacket. This is another of my favorite songs to hear him sing live.
Now Alice has died many ways on stage over the years but everyone’s favorite seems to be the guillotine. The crowd was shouting out KILL HIM as the hooded hinchmen and evil nurse puts him under the blade as the band played parts of the songs Killer and I Love The Dead. The blade drops and The Coop’s head falls into the basket.
As always Alice cheats death again as he is wheeled out on the stage on a stretcher covered in a bloody sheet. He raises up and gets off the stretcher and pays tribute to some rock and rollers who are no longer with us. The first one is his old drinking buddy from the 70’s Keith Moon. The band breaks into the classic Who song Pinball Wizard. Next comes a member of a band that Alice Cooper opened for in the 60’s Jim Morrison. He sung Love Me Two Times, a big hit for The Doors. No tribute like this would be complete without a Jimi Hendrix song and Fire was the song choice for him. To me Alice and David Bowie’s music went hand in hand in the 70’s so it was a real treat to hear him sing Suffragette City as a tribute to him. As each song was sung a tombstone appeared on the back drop with each fallen rock stars name on it.
Alice closes the show with two songs that are high on any fans favorite songs, I’m 18 and Schools Out. During the middle of the last song they added a few lines of Pink Floyd’s Another Brick In The Wall. Soap bubbles and huge balloons filled with confetti float and bounce around the crowds heads. Mr Cooper would burst the balloons with his sword and send the confetti flying!
Alice introduces the members of the band and tells the packed house good night and exits the stage. But the crowd was still hungry for more and he gave them more. Since it is Election Year, the only song choice was the classic song from Billion Dollar Babies, Elected. During the song a couple in Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton masks were chasing each other around the stage as Alice watches and shakes his head. The band takes their final bows and the house lights come one.
As you can tell I totally enjoyed this show from start to finish as even the most casual Alice Cooper fan would. Alice has chosen a very tight group of musicians to back him and his voice is still in excellent shape after all these years. This was my 19th time seeing Alice Cooper live and I am already looking forward to the 2oth.
If Alice and his band play in your area make it a point to check them out. You can thank me later!!!
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Written By James Downing
Photos By James Downing