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Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2008

Alice Cooper @ The Riverside Theater

Friday, August 8, 2008

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The Alice Cooper "traveling musical and theatrical extravaganza" made its way to Milwaukee again last Friday, for the third time in the past three years. The Coop must like Brew Town-his bassist Chuck Garric is a local boy-and the feeling is mutual, judging from the response of the fans.

  Ever the consummate showman, Cooper shocked (playfully) rocked (ferociously) and entertained (unstoppably), which is all the more impressive considering that he's 60 years old and after a fall on stage two weeks ago he broke a rib and suffered ligament damage.

  Despite having just released a new album, Along Came a Spider, Cooper and his cohorts stuck to classic hits during the 90 minute show, delighting the hardcore Coop fans with much of the material from the excellent 1971 release Killer. "Under My Wheels," "Be My Lover" and "Desperado" rocked the house. Even the rarely performed prog-rockish "Halo of Flies" worked well in its extended version. Cooper's crack quartet, featuring guitarists Jason Hook and Keri Kelli, assisted drummer Eric Singer on percussion on a platform above the stage while bassist Garric kept the droning bass line rhythmically circling from below.

  A snapshot of songs from 1975's Welcome to My Nightmare saw toys and props come on stage-and come to life-as Cooper welcomed a supposedly dead mannequin for "Cold Ethyl," then a bedraggled dancer (Cooper's real life daughter, Calico) during "Only Women Bleed." Even the plaintive cries of the maniacal "Steven" set the chill onstage in preparation for the gruesome tale of "Dead Babies," performed replete with a tattered baby carriage and a baby doll adorned in Cooper's black eye makeup.

  This being a presidential election year, "Elected" was performed as only the master showman could envision. Actors wearing Hillary and Barack masks and suits first fought, then made up, while dancers paraded with signs touting Alice as the Wild Party candidate, a "Troubled Man for Troubled Times." Considering the times we live in, Alice Cooper is certainly a formidable contender.