Welcome to my Discography: The Alice Cooper Hit Machine--LIVE!
By
J. Gordon
7/19/2004 9:55:12 PM

Alice Cooper may no longer fly onto stage via a giant penis, and it’s a little unfortunate that he’s not running for President like he did in 1972, but his July 17th show at the Pageant in St. Louis still proves he’s a master showman. As to be expected, watching the sold-out crowd for Alice Cooper is a pre-show event in itself. Half the audience donned Alice’s smeary, teary black eye make-up, matching the backdrop of Alice’s famous eyes. The attendees were almost an even split of pre-teens who’ve just discovered where Marilyn Manson learned his schtick, and their forty- to fifty-something parents, fresh out of re-hab and there for a bit of nostalgia.

This was a no-BS show if there ever was one. With almost no between-song banter, Cooper pulled off hit after hit, reminding everyone of just how extensive his discography is. Rising from a platform beneath the stage, he greeted St. Louis with “No More Mr. Nice Guy”. Alice Cooper is beginning to look a bit older these days, with a middle-age paunch (stay away from those tight clothes, Alice—especially when singing songs like ‘Muscle of Love’), but his voice is as strong as ever. During “Billion Dollar Babies” Cooper whipped out a sword skewered with bills, distributing them to the audience with violent slashes. He later put the sword to good use, murdering an Uma Thurman/Kill Bill look-alike who karate-danced her way onto the stage (at the end of the show he introduced her as his ‘little girl’, 22-year-old Calico Cooper).

Perhaps the high point of the night was when Cooper revisited his greatest song (in this writer’s opinion), “Eighteen”. Singing it as he waved a crutch at the audience like a giant aluminum arm (irony, I suppose), it rocked like he still was eighteen.

A clear, mesmerizing light show displayed Cooper in vintage top hat and tails, adorned with his gorgeous live python for “Sick Things.” The band was top-notch tight, and young, St. Louis-based drummer Tommy Clufetos (whom we caught touring on Ted Nugent’s ‘Shock and Awe’ tour last summer) is destined to be one of the all-time greats in percussion. And not like Tommy needed any help, but it was a cool moment when the two guitarists joined him to beat the skins, lending a Blue Man Group feel to the evening. Tommy carried on alone for an amazing ten-minute solo that bored no one, while the band members took a break.

The guys rejoined him, dressed as glittery gangsters. With a nod to Hollywood musicals, a gang of hoods took over the stage to fight and Cooper’s band broke into West Side Story’s “When You’re a Jet", that segued into Alice’s new tune, “Backyard Brawl,” with a reappearance from Calico, the girl who would not die.

As misogyny has always been a Cooper theme, he killed her again, switching out her live body for a mannequin's to do the song “Cold Ethel”. Unfortunately, Alice reminded us that he also had his bombs, like the godforsaken 1970s Top 40 hit, “Only Women Bleed.” Wish he’d swapped that one out for “Clones.”

Cooper sang “The Ballad of Dwight Fry” from the confines of a strait-jacket, wrestling it off to don a white top hat and crush us with “School’s Out.” The encore brought him back with “Brutal Planet,” “Wicked Young Man” (which seems a bit silly, given his age), and “Poison”.

Alice Cooper is and will always be a legend. He’s clearly not too old to rock and roll, and he’s smart enough to hang back in Hitsville and give the audience what they want. The only great tunes missed were “Welcome to my Nightmare,” “Clones,” and “Elected” (which would have been perfect in this election year and sure would complement the ‘Cooper’s wild party vs. Bush vs. Kerry’ T-shirts he had for sale).

Buxom tough girl Lennon opened the show, proving she’s way more rock than her songstress-at-the-piano CD lets on. While the set was fraught with technical difficulties that buried the instruments in a layer of sonic mud, it’s clear the girl can sing, there were some really interesting melodies and arrangements going on (beneath the mud), and any girl tough enough to open for Alice Cooper is worth a listen.

Photos by J. Gordon

 

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