Gig/Concert: Alice Cooper ‘Psycho-Drama’ Tour
Venue: Hamilton Place, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Date: 6 October 2008
Headiner: Alice Cooper
In One Word: Coop
Alice Cooper, on tour, 2008. Something about that doesn’t quite add up. I mean, Alice Cooper has been around forever. Well at least that’s how it seems, but the reality is the Coop only just turned 60 this year. And hey, on the evidence of this concert there is still plenty of life in the old dog yet…
This was my first time in the Hamilton Place theatre, a venue that is now local to me having recently moved to the area. For the most part I usually try to avoid any kind of gig that involves sitting down, because truly you need to be on your feet to listen to live music. Sitting down to watch a gig is usually a major buzz kill. This wasn’t an issue though for this show. Everyone rose to their feet from the first moment of Alice Cooper’s set and they stayed on their feet till they were walking out the door.
“Cooper wouldn’t have got to where he has if he just stood on stage with a microphone and did the conventional rock band thing – that’s just not what’s he’s about.“
The theatre setting was well suited given the theatrical nature of Alice Cooper’s stage show. Cooper wouldn’t have got to where he has if he just stood on stage with a microphone and did the conventional rock band thing. During the show he brandished a variety of props including a whip, a baton, a sword, necklaces and a crutch. Fake blood flies, Alice gets sent to the gallows, and actors including Alice’s daughter Calico move around the stage in various horror costumes to bring the songs to life. Everything was well rehearsed as the current Psycho-Drama tour has been on the road since 2007, and of course Cooper himself has been doing this stuff for 40 years. Some of the on-stage antics can still be considered controversial, even in this day where blood, sex and violence are in your face every time you turn on the TV. All the on-stage stunts are deliberately camp in their nature, but to me, any shock-seeking act mimmicking the killing of a baby will never be cool or funny.
Watching Alice Cooper live is as much about the entertainment from the stage show than it is about the music. I never actually imagined I’d ever see an Alice Cooper show, but fortunately for me the man has insane longevity and seemingly never wants to quit touring and making records. Heck yeah he’s 60, so what? AC’s appearance is showing obvious signs of age, but the wrinkles and leathery skin on his face and neck just make him look even more creepy. He is a man wearing masks of both comedy & tragedy at the same time. The main thing is that his voice is still strong. The songs sounded as good as I could’ve imagined them sounding live, aided by the great acoustics of the auditorium.
“Keri Kelli was notable on guitar; almost as much for his extreme sweating as for his clinical guitar licks.“
The band providing all the music were strong and had a few moments in the spotlight, including a lengthy drum solo for Halo Of Flies. Keri Kelli was notable on guitar; almost as much for his extreme sweating as for his clinical guitar licks. Kelli was sweating buckets as early as the second song – I found this out when he moved to the edge of the stage and stood over the spot where I was taking photos from. You couldn’t accuse KK or anybody else for a lack of effort, which is laudable because I’d imagine it might get a little bit old doing the whole Spinal Tap thing every night.
As for the set-list, it was very much a case of the best songs being saved for last, with the encore including School’s Out and Elected, sending everyone home happy. The concert was far from a thriller but more like a whole ‘been there, got the t-shirt’ kind of a deal. I’m into live music, not live music theatre. The on-stage gimmicks were sometimes funny, but I felt disconnected from the show in terms of any vibe or atmosphere. The overall experience made me more inclined to go home and watch Wayne’s World for AC’s cameo, rather than to go home and try to dig-up a copy of Trash or Billion Dollar Babies.
It is impressive that the Coop is still out there touring and doing his thing with such natural assurance. I was grateful for this as it allowed me to see one of rock’s most iconic and innovative performers. For his fans, most of whom are now middle-aged, the persona that the man born Vincent Furnier created for himself as the Coop is still as convincing as ever. On my way out of the venue I heard a few people muttering that tired old line from Wayne and Garth: “We’re not worthy, we’re not worthy…”
© Brian Banks, Music Vice