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Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2010

Alice Cooper @ The Riverside Theater

Aug. 31, 2010

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When it comes to making a shocking impression, Alice Cooper has the perfect formula.

For nearly five decades Cooper has been pioneering an off-shoot of hard-rock frequently called shock rock, and has lately taken on a particular fascination with death. His latest album, Along Came a Spider, is about a serial killer, so it made sense that his show Tuesday at the Riverside Theater was part of his Theater of Death tour.

The show began innocently enough, as Cooper and his band fired into two of his best known hits, “School’s Out” and “No More Mr. Nice Guy,” which got the packed crowd roaring with cheers. Soon enough, though, things turned more sinister, when a masked character in a skeleton costume got in the way of Cooper, who stabbed him with a microphone.


This started a mini-drama throughout the set, where Cooper battled several of the skeleton minions and a menacing yet enticing woman. Sometimes Cooper’s character struck first, but often he was the one killed. He was imprisoned in a strait jacket, injected by a huge syringe of poison, hung by a hangman, beheaded by guillotine and sliced and diced by a dagger-filled box. But every time Cooper came back, intent for revenge. Sometimes he progressed the story with a related song.


Between his deaths, there were plenty of other antics: Cooper showed an obsession with a chopped-off plastic head; a monster stole his love interest/nemesis during “Feed My Frankenstein,” and later the singer donned spider arms while on top of a ramp overlooking the stage and the crowd.

Beyond the entertaining stage show, Cooper provided a good mix of older and newer songs, playing songs like the angst-ridden “I’m 18,” the sinister “Poison” and “Vengeance Is Mine,” and others like “Elected.” He ended the set the way he started, with an encore of “School’s Out,” which seemed like an odd choice given his wealth of material, but maybe he just really wanted to party on a school night.


Opener Brent James & the Contraband offered a good set of their own hard garage rock.

Photo by CJ Foeckler

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