People tell me they’re repeatedly surprised at how eclectic my tastes are. Hey, I’m a dynamic guy. But did you ever expect me to attend an Alice Cooper concert? Well, surprise, surprise…
This weekend (Friday night, in fact), I attended my first Alice Cooper concert. The band played at a new local venue in the Bricktown area of downtown Oklahoma City called the Criterion. I had my reservations leading up to the concert, but I have to confess, it was one of the VERY BEST live concerts that I’ve ever attended!
Over the years, I’ve enjoyed a number of select Alice Cooper songs, but I never expected to attend one of his concerts. A Physics professor, Jim Gilbert, who teaches at the college where I work has repeatedly encouraged me to attend a Cooper concert, claiming it’s one of the best I’d ever see. Granted, Jim’s an avid long-time fan of Alice Cooper, you see, so you’d expect him to say something like that. However, I have to say, he knew precisely what he was talking about. (Also, Jim knows physics like nobody’s business!)
Alice Cooper is in his late sixties, but you’d never suspect that given his strong voice and the sheer energy he brings to the stage. And his band – oh, his band! – is among the best I’ve ever heard live. I was blown away by the lead guitarist, Nita Strauss. She plays with the skills and intensity of epic guitarists like Jimi Hendrix, Slash, and Jimmy Page. I’m not kidding…Nita is AMAZING! The audience erupted in a roar of enthusiasm each and every time she stepped to the front of stage to display her skills. She even threw spent guitar picks out into the audience throughout the concert and even launched a handful of unused ones to fans as she left the stage during the final curtain call.
The bass player, Chuck Garric, and the drummer, Glen Sobel, each did an amazing job, too. At one point, Garric and Sobel played together as Sobel demonstrated his impeccable skills at the sticks. Garric’s chords thrummed with deep intensity against Sobel’s thunderous drum sequences. I felt the soundwaves of both instruments pounding and coursing through my body during the entire set. Truly, it was one of the best pairings of bass and drums that I’ve heard in a long time, and definitely the best I’ve heard live.
But Alice Cooper was much more than a mere rock band playing the group’s popular tunes, it’s as much a rock opera with vignettes throughout the concert adding visual drama and storytelling for each song. There were scenes and stage sets ranging from a variation of the Frankenstein’s mad scientist with monster creation, a macabre insane asylum set where the evil Alice Cooper was rehabilitated for his crimes, and when the treatments failed, they beheaded him at the guillotine.
It was a part rock concert and part Rocky Horror Picture Show event. It was thoroughly entertaining.
During the concert, Cooper played tribute to a number of his personal friends who have died, including Keith Moon, Lemmy Kilmister, and David Bowie. The band honored the men’s music in expert fashion by playing The Who’s Pinball Wizard, Motorhead’s Ace of Spades, and Bowie’s Suffragette City. It was great! In the middle of their set for School’s Out, the band expertly inserted a section of Pink Floyd’s Another Brick in the Wall with amazing flair. That was both surprising and impressive.
At the end, the band returned for a curtain call to play an appropriately timed song called Elected. Alice strutted on stage in a red, white, and blue themed tuxedo and hat while amusing caricatures of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton attacked each other on stage as Cooper sang. It was hilarious, while perhaps a little too close to true given the current state of presidential campaigns.
All in all, it was an amazing concert and I’m happy that I went. I was likewise quite pleased with the venue, and I’d definitely go back to the Criterion to see future performances there.
Finally, I discovered that while Alice Cooper might portray a demented character onstage, conversely he is a wonderful humanitarian off stage. For years, he’s hosted and supported a variety of charitable causes and foundations to reach out to troubled teens and children, particularly in his home community in Phoenix, Arizona. Among his personally-supported charities are: MusiCares, Artists for Peace and Justice, Prince’s Trust, the Rape Foundation, the Red Cross, Save the Music Foundation, and Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center. He’s commendable and more impressive as a person than even as a rock legend. To me, that alone makes him someone worth supporting, even if you only like a couple of his tunes.
Have you ever seen Alice Cooper perform live? If not, what’s your favorite live performance? Leave a comment and let me know.
Until later, enjoy life; be kind to those around you, and Happy Reading! Peace.