Like my clever liberal media trick there in the title. Thanks to my use of the loaded word “Nightmare” you were probably sucked in thinking I had some bad experience on my Anniversary and was going to spill the beans on my blog. I liken this to when a biased journalist uses the word “Slams” in an article header since it tends to elicit more emotion than say the literal truth of it being more of a “Beats” or “Betters” another. For the record, a hard fast rule of mine is to NEVER read an article with that word in the title – or any equally purposefully charged word like “Lambaste”. In contrast to what the title might indicate, I had a wonderful Anniversary with Linda … which just happened to take place here:
That’s right, we went to see the Alice Cooper concert in downtown Peoria. What better way can you think of to celebrate a wonderful 21 years of marriage? Okay, okay, a trip to Hawaii or maybe some romantic getaway might be a little better but we need to save something special for the 10’s. This is our third Alice Cooper concert – twice now in Peoria and another one at the Mississippi Valley State Fair a few years back. Some of you may not be aware of this band – actually, let’s pause a minute – AC used to be a band fronted by Vincent Furnier. Over time, the band kind of disbanded per se, and Vincent eventually took on the moniker for himself. Now when you see Alice Cooper people think of just Vincent and whatever band members he happens to be touring with at the moment. Now corrected, I’ll restart with saying many of you may not be familiar with the band or the re-incarnated Vincent. Let’s just say he tends to delve into the dark underbelly of society to deliver his brand of entertainment. With ghoulish painted eyes and a wardrobe straight from 60’s horror movies, Alice (I’ll use this for the rest of the post) brings to life a Macabre theater based on a tortured soul. Think of it as a masterful combination of solid rock music infused with shock imagery. Take for example his opening act when he dons his spider outfit and commands the crowd for high atop his pulpit.
As you can tell we were actually sitting in first balcony of the theater. These seats shielded us from the floor standers (as desired), but it next time we’ll try for a box a couple back. The angle we had caused some slight stage clipping which wasn’t that big of an issue other than I couldn’t see the drummer as well as I wanted to – their songs have very difficult percussion arrangements and I was hoping to get some insights on how it’s done . The other drawback from that is the stack of speakers on the right (yeah, that whole stack) was essentially blasting right at me. By the end of the concert my ears were in full on concert ring.
Read more about our Anniversary Night Out after the jump
Beyond that, the seats were pretty awesome. We had a great view of the two guitarists on the right and whenever the bassist came over to our side – I don’t remember Alice’s long time guitarist (positioned far left) ever coming over to our side of the stage. There was a point in time when the seats were a little too good! The exact point in time that moment in the concert was marked by a very audible scream from Linda. A scream I’ve heard a number of times up to this point and immediately signals one specific event.
Apologies for the jitter on the camera phone (Linda was attacking me) but hopefully you can piece it together enough to understand the situation. A common association with Alice his affinity for large snakes. He’s had one on stage for as long as I’ve known about him and that night was no exception. Thanks to our seat angle to the stage, Linda was able to see them preparing to bring it out. Our differences just might be that extra glue that keeps our marriage so wonderful – for example, I found this to be a quite entertaining and hilarious moment – Linda on the other hand was ready to rip up all the furniture in the box and hurl it at the offensive creature. Thanks probably to the fact we had some our friends with us, this impulse never made it to fruition. Good thing for Linda he only kept it around for one song.
Even though Alice is now in his 60’s he is still belting out those tried and true songs like School’s Out, I’m Eighteen and my personal favorite Billion Dollar Babies. He may no longer be able to transition as easily from the smooth melodies to the biting vocals which made him famous but that is easily compensated by his mastery of stage presence. Over the years, Alice has infused his show with shock props and stage actors provide visual imagery to his lyrics. I think it also helps to explain some of the songs that might actually be taken wrong outside of the song’s context – take for example Only Women Bleed and the often misunderstood Cold Ethyl (right out of a short story I had to read in High School call A Rose for Emily). He didn’t employ the evil nurse character at this particular show – not sure if he has dropped that part of the experience – I can imagine how this role riles up the feminists (go rent one of his concerts on DVD to see what mean) – at one point his daughter was playing that role. Unfortunately, without that imagery, some of his songs lose their context and might actually make it appear a little worse than if they were there.
Alice really didn’t bring out his “big show” props for this particular engagement, but he did bring out his giant Frankenstein! (I recommend not feeding it!)
But it can’t be called an Alice Cooper concert if Alice didn’t lose his head. And by that I mean literally LOSE HIS HEAD! True to every time I’ve watched or attended one of his concerts, his stage hands bring out the guillotine and force our beloved singer into position. It was a little less “shocking” per se based on not playing up the lead in from the Welcome to My Nightmare era (and having seen it so many times now). The blood sucking and spitting of the decapitated head was a nice visual. Sorry for the fuzz on the next shot – the dude walked right in front as I was pressing the shutter down.
The other consistent point of an Alice Cooper concert are the solid chops of his band. With the volume cranked up, it felt like a barrage from the drums while the three guitars and bass expertly inter-weaved. Alice always brings talent with him on tour and as a new angle this time he brought Orianthi out with him. If you don’t know her, she is an extremely talented rock shredder that is best known for being selected for Michael Jackson’s last planned tour. You can see her second from the right in the pictures above. Calm, cool and rock steady on the guitars easily holding her own with the other 3 ax wielders. As a side note, this has to be the weakest lineup of guitarists I’ve seen him with. Before someone jumps my case on that I’m talking about PHYSICALLY weak – he often hires mega body builders which he proceeds to slash with swords etc. during his show. I’m not talking about weak in sense of playing ability – on the contrary I thought they were quite good – also glad to see his long time guitarist (Ryan Roxie) back on tour with Alice. Here is a weak shot of the group jamming away.
Another trait of an Alice Cooper concert is “More Rock, Less Talk” Alice generally does not take a lot of time to banter with the crowd choosing instead to interact with the props and band members playing out the well orchestrated storyline. Alice comes out, launches into his set giving a heavy dose of the songs people paid their hard earned money to see with a sprinkling of new material (which he kindly informs the crowd by wearing a leather jacket with “New Song” in big letters on the back). With a huge catalog he cannot fit all the fan favorites in (he actually left off one of my favorites “Be My Lover”) but he has mixed it up the three times we’ve seen him. Once his main set was done, he took a quick break to prepare for his encore. I probably could have guessed it if I had thought about what year it was, but it made me smile when he came out with the flag singing “Elected”. In high school we used to sing along to this song whenever someone popped the tape into the car dash (anybody remember those days?)
Alice is a conservative but tends to keep his politics neutral on tour. To his credit, he brought out both Romney and Obama actors to fight it out on stage. While reading his Wikipedia page I came across this gem: “He told the Canadian Press that the then crop of rock stars campaigning for and touring on behalf of Democratic candidate John Kerry were committing “treason against rock n’ roll”. He also added that upon seeing the list of musicians who supported Kerry, if I wasn’t already a Bush supporter, I would have immediately switched. Linda Ronstadt? Don Henley? Geez, that’s a good reason right there to vote for Bush.” Amen!
And with that came the end of our Anniversary concert. I had a great time and Linda as well as our friends Rocket and Rhonda also had fun time – all a little more deaf as a result but probably doesn’t compare to how Alice feels rocking out each night at his age – by the way, his voice is holding on pretty good, but it was noticeable he’s getting a little paunchier (just saying). Another anniversary in the books and happily looking forward to planning our future ones.
Oh.. it would be wrong of me to close this out without mentioning Last Vegas. What is Last Vegas you say? Well, it wasn’t until about 40 minutes into the show did we find out that was the name of the opening band. The tickets never mentioned an opening act and there was no early indication there would be one until we got to the theater. At the start time 4 guys came out, picked up their instruments and started blasting out the tunes. I was slightly perplexed based on the fact that the lead singer looked like a cross between Alice Cooper’s younger years and Josh Todd from BuckCherry (less tats of mind you). He even informed the crowd he was not Alice’s kid contrary to popular belief. It must have been convenient for the sound check guys to get the settings right for the Alice set based on how similar their sound was. For a band that never got any press before the show they were quite good to the point I’m planning on checking out their new album coming out in August. The singer’s vocal range was very impressive going deep like Alice and all the way up to Vince Neil highs in their California Girls song (pretty sure it was actually a cover of a Crue song but need to validate that). Stellar job boys but next time take the opportunity to market yourselves a little better (as in more that the letters L and V on your bass drum) and it might just pay off. Shame on the Peoria crowd who didn’t show any love to these four trying their best to get the audience pumped up. To Linda’s disgust I will making a passing mention to the fact the lead singer of this band watched Alice’s entire set from the side of the stage with a (cough) smoking hot (cough) girl with stripper quality dance moves and a nice rac….umm Happy Anniversary Linda!