Concert review: Alice Cooper at Ruth Eckerd Hall, still scaring and shocking in his 60's (with pics + setlist)

Sure, the perception of Alice Cooper (born Vincent Damon Furnier) has changed quite a bit in the last forty years ... he's now known as an avid golfer, a restauranteur, an occasional actor and, most shocking of all, a born-again Christian?! But when he's on stage and he's doing what he does best, he's Alice. And the fans love every evil and eerie minute of his theatrical extravaganza.


Cooper's current tour, "Alice Cooper's Theatre Of Death," has all the props [image-1]and gimmicks anyone could hope for. Yes, the guillotine, the gallows, the swords, the giant hypodermic needle are all still part of the vaudevillian horror show. As visually stunning and entertaining as the show is to look at, the real attraction is the music. And Alice did little to disappoint his adoring followers who sang loudly and fist-pumped fervently to the string of Cooper classics he and his young, tight backing band belted out.


Opening with what's probably his most recognizable anthem, "School's Out," was a smart move. The crowd instantly rose to their feet and really had no other opportunity to return to their seats for the next 100 minutes. Obviously, the set list on this particular type of show has to be regimented in order to coincide with scenery, props and visual aids that accompany each segment; regardless, the  pacing and the sequencing of the songs performed was extremely well thought-out. You'd be hard pressed to find a performer who can follow up what's arguably the greatest teenage anthem with two other solid contenders for that title. But sure enough, "Department Of Youth" and "I'm Eighteen" immediately followed the opening number in equally ferocious and LOUD mode.


There weren't many of Cooper's well-known songs that were left out of the show -- there would be little to complain about regarding what you'd expect Alice to perform live. And in true Cooper form, there were some not-so-obvious nuggets thrown in for the diehards ("From The Inside," "Devil's Food").


Yes, time can be cruel. But it's worked to Alice Cooper's advantage -- now that he's past his 60th birthday, the true degenerate that is his onstage persona has gained a creepy dimension with age. In closest comparison is the level of eeriness that screen actors (and Cooper's personal mentors) Vincent Price and Peter Cushing gained as they aged. Their level of spookiness rose by leaps and bounds as they matured and the same can be said about Alice Cooper. Seeing a gaunt, wrinkled man clad in black leather spearing baby dolls and  attacking life-sized rag dolls onstage is a pretty frightening sight. Shock value takes on a whole new meaning when observing a sick, twisted senior citizen partaking in such heinous acts. Alice has had years to perfect his act and judging from Friday nights onstage fright fest, the Alice Cooper show has benefited from age and experience.[image-2]


Set List:


School's Out


Department Of Youth


I'm Eighteen


Wicked Young Man


Ballad of Dwight Fry


Go To Hell


Guilty


Welcome To My Nightmare


Cold Ethyl


Poison


The Awakening


From The Inside


Nurse Rosetta


[image-3]


Is It My Body


Be My Lover


Only Women Bleed


I Never Cry


Black Widow (instrumental)


Vengeance Is Mine


Devil's Food


Dirty Diamonds


Billion Dollar Babies


Killer


I Love The Dead


No More Mr. Nice Guy


Under My Wheels


School's Out (reprise)

Time can be cruel. For an outlandish, shock-rocker whose heyday of gimmicks and gore dates back over three decades ago, trying to maintain the level of shock and disgust that propelled him to notoriety can be quite a difficult task. [All photos by Phil Bardi.]

Then there's Alice Cooper. A man whose name and persona have been shrouded in mystery and mysticism since his wretched attack on all things safe and sane began. Before the term "urban legend" became a regular part of the vernacular, Alice Cooper had more fabled stories and tales circulating about his life, off-stage antics, fetishes and the true origin of his chosen stage name than any other rock star out there. And he did very little to put those myths to bed. Truth is, he reveled in those preposterous rumors as they helped bolster his image and sell records. Lots and lots of records. It might be difficult for many to remember the level of fear and contempt Alice Cooper instilled in parents and adults back in the early to mid-1970's. Before Rob Zombie or Marilyn Manson, or hell, even the late G.G. Allin graced us with their very own brand of horror and disgust, Alice Cooper was the figurehead of all things immoral and unspeakable. The near sell-out crowd at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater on Friday night sure remember those days. And for one  night, they got to relive the glory of their youthful rebellion spent rallying around the man who helped put the danger and darkness back into a rock 'n' roll climate that had been saturated with the peace, love and harmony.

About The Author

Gabe Echazabal

I was born on a Sunday Morning.I soon received The Gift of loving music.Through music, I Found A Reason for living.It was when I discovered rock and roll that I Was Beginning To See The Light.Because through music, I'm Set Free.It's always helped me keep my Head Held High.When I started dancing to that fine, fine...
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