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Non-Prog Concert Reviews

Alice Cooper

Live at Beloit Riverfest, July 9, 2004

Review by Mike Korn

I had seen Alice only a couple of years ago, while he was touring behind the "Dragontown" CD, and enjoyed the experience, so I didn't feel it was much of a risk to venture up into the land of cheese
and beer (Wisconsin) and check out the madman once more at Beloit Riverfest.

It wound up being a beautiful night on the riverfront so the crowd was very healthy. A lot of the expected old-school mullet heads and bikers were in the throng but I was heartened to see a number of college and
high school kids checking out Alice and enjoying what they saw. Cooper's antics make him a universal icon...seedy but not scandalous, weird but not scary...and the cleverness of his recent albums, mining the nu-metal and garage rock genres further enhances his youth appeal. I get the feeling that a lot of kids who bought stuff like White Stripes and The Vines probably dug a lot of what they saw tonight.

Alice did not disappoint. Though his show was not as big and elaborate as in the past, he was always the showman, twirling canes, swords and even a giant albino python with ease. He's got one of the best rough and raspy voices in rock, right up there with Lemmy and Brian Johnson, and can still hit some pretty scary growls. He still has the gimmick where he's killed and brought back to life, as well as singing in a strait
jacket. Where once these antics terrified 70's conservatives, now they are seen as warm and fuzzy, even when Alice skewers a baby doll on a sword and flings it away with contempt.

Alice's band reflects the kind of stripped down essence on his latest album "The Eyes of Alice Cooper"; very much hitting a kind of sleazy White Stripes kind of pose. While these fellows were quite entertaining,
they were nowhere near as tight as the band Alice had for the "Dragontown" tour. I noticed several guitar screw-ups where perhaps they took the "loose" aspect of the music a bit too far. But they were energetic and worked well with the Master. I especially got a kick out of the headbanging row they made, reminiscent of Accept and Judas Priest. The drummer actually hailed from Beloit itself, which I didn't
know, and was generally the best of the support players. However, his drum solo should have been shot to the moon. I can't stand them unless it's an absolute drum GOD ala Neil Peart delivering them. That time
could have been better used to play some old classics like "Teenage Frankenstein" or "Elected".

Cooper managed to slip some surprising old nuggets into the night's show. The whole shebang opened up with an epic "Hello and Hurray"; leading into the more expected "No More Mr. Nice Guy". The set also saw the welcome return of "Cold Ethyl", where Alice fondled a rubber-limbed love doll in the image of a woman he supposedly just killed (actually played by his daughter...figure that one out!), "Desperado", and the catchy "Who Do You Think We Are?" We got a pretty strong "Billion Dollar Babies" and best of all was the encore, which pieced together the excellent "Brutal Planet"(one of his most underrated LPs), the hair metal hit "Poison" and the all-time classic "Under My Wheels".

He did find time to stick in some of the more anthemic stuff from "Eyes", such as "Man of the Year" and "What Do You Want From Me?", which actually came across a lot better live than on record, and which
fit pretty well with the rest of the set. Outside of that, the usual suspects like "I'm Eighteen", "School's Out", "Only Women Bleed" and "Ballad of Dwight Frye" all put in an appearance.

Not a perfect show (it was the first night of the tour), this was still a fine rocking time delivered by the grand old man of the macabre. Alice shows no sign of slowing down!
This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2004 Year Book Volume 3 at
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