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Alice Cooper Live In Ottawa

By Andrew Depedro, Ottawa Corespondent
Monday, October 20, 2008 @ 3:42 PM


The Civic Center

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Looking back on my high school years during the 1980’s and early 90’s, it’s amazing how much of a pinnacle role Alice Cooper’s played in them. My closest friend Jason can still recite pretty much every detail of the first 7 or 8 landmark albums that personified the Coop during the 70’s (and to be honest it’s his attention to detail I credit for my knowledge on music events in general from past to present) and also was the springboard towards my foray into heavy metal in general afterwards. One of my other friends, Jane, could probably give lots of stories from some of the classes we were in which whatever group project we were paired up together she’d be doing all the work (her handwriting was always better than mine in case you were wondering why she got saddled with all of the writing tasks) while the other folk in the group and myself would be browsing over whatever edition of the then-popular Rock ‘N Roll Comics I brought over - in particular the Alice Cooper edition, which in turn prompted one of my profs to have me write an essay on the topic of censorship although I used the subliminal message trial involving Judas Priest as the thesis of my essay instead and I had to give credit to Jane for the idea afterwards. This eventually got me some street cred with some of the metal fans afterwards when they heard about the essay and the rest was history.

With all of that said, it’s odd that all this time I hadn’t seen Alice Cooper live up until last Saturday at the Civic Center that night.

Anyway, after getting an invite from my friend Pat (who also fronts local metal band Drillpoint) at the Long & McQuade music store he worked at to catch a meet-and-greet with Alice’s drummer Eric Singer he helped organize in which I gushed over Singer’s work on Kiss’ Revenge and the last couple of Alice Cooper CD’s he’s played on (although he always curiously indicated that he plays in Kiss in his signature note despite the fact he was touring with Alice Cooper this time around) I proceeded to make my way to the Civic Center for the show….only to be immediately denied access by security for still having my backpack on and the arena forsaking any responsibility for lost, stolen or damaged belongings as they did not have a room anyplace for people to leave their belongings during the show. Baffling, considering that security didn’t have reason to turn me away from the arena when I saw Heaven & Hell and Megadeth play there last year. I was explaining this to the driver of the taxi that thankfully was parked outside as I made my way back home to drop off the backpack and return to the concert afterwards just in time to have missed Econoline Crush’s entire set.

“I can understand the security. Especially after September 11….”

“Of last year?”

True, I should’ve just took the time to just return home and leave the backpack there and thus avoiding the whole incident altogether as well as the $30 cab fare it cost me to go home and return to the Civic Center afterwards (plus it wasn’t like I was missing a band I was insanely crazy over like when Supagroup opened for the Coop 3 years ago and I had to miss that show entirely due to a government exam that day) but it still kinda soured the mood a bit especially as the building’s security didn’t enforce the no backpacks rule in the past long after 9/11 had happened until apparently very recently.

The security guard did allow me to bring in my notepad to review the show when I returned after I told him who I was reviewing the concert for. And though he only was doing his job he owed me that much, I figured.

With the headlining performance still not yet underway I happened to run into Jason (who’ll have worked on his fifth time seeing Alice live including this show) while waiting in the beer line and we talked about the how awesome the show would be and then pointed out the apt timing that the location in which his seat was at was in Section 18. I was in Section 20 which wasn’t far from him and likely would’ve hung out with him and his girlfriend Marissa instead but noting that if security were particular over me bringing in a knapsack to a concert they’d also have overreacted if I defected to another section of the arena that wasn’t listed on my ticket stub so I had to play it safe from there on in.

As for the show itself, Alice Cooper’s set may have also bordered on safe in parts for those who’ve been used to knowing what to expect from his shows in the past but for me it never strayed from anything less than entertaining. From the awesome intro of the shadow of two figures dressed up in swashbuckling pirate outfits engaging in a sword fight before one of them is felled, revealing Alice as the victor, to the festive climax which featured a brawl between a Barack Obama and a John McCain lookalike to the sounds of “Elected”, Alice Cooper’s 95-minute show harnessed my every attention with a theatrical yet mesmerizing performance that remains untouched by few from his era or his genre.

Following the mock sword fight, Alice started his show off with the brief opener “It’s Hot Tonight” from 1981’s Special Forces and took the crowd on a wild nostalgic foray into the past 35 plus years of his extensive career as one of hard rock’s most theatrical frontmen. And while the standard classics such as “No More Mr. Nice Guy”, “Under My Wheels” and “Eighteen” seemed hastily played and rushed one after the other almost in a feeling of quickly getting the greatest hits out of the way it didn’t diminish their musicianship in any way, shape or form. Plus their early inclusion in the first part of the set led the way for Alice to play the lesser-known underrated newer material such as “Woman Of Mass Distraction”, “Lost In America”, “Dirty Diamonds” and his latest song “Vengeance Is Mine” from his new album Along Came A Spider.

Other notable moments from Alice’s set included:

A 20-minute rendition of the James Bond-inspired “Halo Of Flies” featuring some backup dancers in some revealing Mata Hari spy outfits and an extended drum solo and drum duel courtesy of both Eric Singer and guitarist Jason Cook;

Alice’s performance of “Welcome To My Nightmare” which featured a dance crew of zombies much like in the 1975 performance video which preceded the concept of Michael Jackson’s video for “Thriller” by almost a decade. Sorry, Michael Jackson fans, but there’s no room for debate on this topic here.

Alice’s three daughters who were part of his stage show during “Welcome To My Nightmare”, “Is It My Body”, “Dead Babies”, “Vengeance Is Mine” and “Only Women Bleed” in particular. Oldest daughter Cheryl – who’s performed regularly with her father for over a decade during his tours – often stole the show in her performance as the temptress during “Is It My Body” and the abused wife in “Only Women Bleed”.

Alice’s ability to still struggle his way out of a straight jacket during “The Ballad Of Dwight Fry”. Compared to Harry Houdini, he makes this stunt look almost effortless and he’s twice the age that Houdini was before his sudden death.

The life size balloons that floated out into the audience during “School’s Out” which Alice quickly parried with his sword except for a blue balloon that went missing among the audience. Alice’s gallows scene during “The Ballad Of Dwight Fry”. Not quite the infamous guillotine scene many of us had hoped for but it still kept the audience on the edge of their seats. And with no mess to clean up either.

The elaborate stage show during “Elected” which looked every bit like any presidential campaign you see on the news but with the candidates beating the crap out of each other. Incidentally, the video for “Elected” also preceded Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s video for “Two Tribes” also by a good decade. And this too is not up for debate, 80’s new wave fans.

The revelation that guitarist Jason Cook – who’s played/toured with Mandy Moore and the Bulletboys on the latter’s reunion tour from 7 years ago – is Canadian. The giveaway should’ve been the guitar he was playing with the Canadian flag painted on its body but I was too busy staring at the 3 dancing Cooper siblings to take any real notice at the time.

After the show, while waiting for Jason and Marissa I unexpectedly met up with Pat and thanked him for the invite to Eric Singer’s meet-and-greet at Long & McQuade on the way to Metal Nite at the Royal Oak. And since the DJ missed the show he played Alice Cooper every 5 songs in particular for Pat since he felt that more than a few particular songs were left out of tonight’s setlist for his liking (and he’s seen the Coop 10 times including this concert) such as “Go To Hell”, “Hallowed Be My Name” and “Freedom”. For me, and not just from the perspective of someone who’d seen him live in concert for the first time, regardless of what songs were or were not played that night, Alice Cooper put on a spellbinding performance which demonstrated why his status in hard rock and metal is nothing short of the talk and title of legend. Let’s face it: When Bob Dylan presents a singer with the title of the most important songwriter of a generation – a title that other musicians often bestowed upon him in the past for the record – you know that Alice Cooper’s doing everything right give or take a few patchy 80’s albums. Hell, I think Jane probably would have had me ritually disemboweled for all those years of having her shoulder all of the class work on her if she hadn’t heard at least one Alice Cooper song from his 70’s catalogue other than “School’s Out” to convince her to spare my life.

And then this review that was born from a simple yet deeply curious teenage infatuation with the history of hard rock and metal that would lead to KNAC.COM later on in my life wouldn’t have happened. So it looks like Jane will be taking some credit for the inspiration of this written piece as well.

Either way, it still began with Alice Cooper for me. And this show met all of my expectations.

Setlist:

  • “It’s Hot Tonight”
  • “No More Mr. Nice Guy”
  • “Under My Wheels”
  • “Eighteen”
  • “Is It My Body”
  • “Woman Of Mass Distraction”
  • “Lost In America”
  • “Feed My Frankenstein”
  • “Be My Lover”
  • “Dirty Diamonds”
  • “Vengeance Is Mine”
  • “Halo Of Flies”
  • “Welcome To My Nightmare”
  • “Cold Ethyl”
  • “Only Women Bleed”
  • “Dead Babies”
  • “The Ballad Of Dwight Fry”
  • “I Love The Dead”
  • “School’s Out”
  • “Billion Dollar Babies”
  • “Poison”
  • “Elected”



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