Thursday, November 29, 2012

I'm Eighteen

Alice Cooper / Kill Devil Hill
The Warfield, San Francisco
November 27, 2012

I've never seen Alice Cooper twice in one year before; earlier this Summer I had seen him play an abbreviated set supporting Iron Maiden in Boston.  When I arrived at The Warfield I chatted with a friend on the road crew, completed a work-related mission, and got some good gossip.  Then as Alice himself walked past me backstage on his way to his dressing room he said to his assistant "Okay put me back in my cage now.." It should go without saying that made my day.  Birth - School - Work - Rock... If only all shows were this easy:

Watching Kill Devil Hill was weird since the vast majority of the crowd didn't seem to know or even care that the bass player from Pantera and the drummer from Dio-era Black Sabbath were onstage.  It might have had something to do with the fact that they were awful... but I could be wrong.  Anyway... Alice started off his set in his usual strong manner with the vintage 'Hello! Hooray!' as pyro cascaded down upon the stage.  It's very rare for a Warfield show to feature any kind of pyro so the evening was off and running in very Lock 'N Loll style.

 [Photo courtesy of Photo Ray]

However, after the pyro intro, the stage show on this tour did not include nearly as many stage props as past Alice shows, which was interesting.  It was the first time I've seen Alice where he was not "killed" onstage; there was no guillotine or hangman's noose.  The closest thing was when he was "transformed" into the monster during 'Feed My Frankenstein'. This performance was more focused on the songs instead of the theatrics and Alice proved (once again) that he is one of the most influential and consummate Rock Stars ever.   If you don't understand how much Rob Zombie, Marilyn Manson, King Diamond, and Ghost have copped something from Alice Cooper then you shouldn't be reading this space.  Really.

The setlist was typically tight and hit all the marks that fans want including songs that I will never get tired of hearing:  'No More Mister Nice Guy'.. 'Billion Dollar Babies'.. and now I even don't mind later hits like 'Hey Stoopid' when 20 years ago I would have tuned them out.  It's Classic Rock in the best way possible. The theme of this tour is Raise The Dead and in keeping with that Alice and the band unearthed cover songs by some of his dead heroes and friends such as The Doors ('Break On Through'), The Beatles ('Revolution'), The Who ('My Generation'), and Hendrix ('Foxy Lady').  I'm not a huge fan of bands playing so many cover songs, but it worked tonight.  The latter was perfect to showcase the band's current guitarist Orianthi who completely shreds and brings a whole lot of blond estrogen energy to the current Alice show.  

The highpoint of the night was one of my all-time favorite songs 'Ballad Of Dwight Fry'; I became obsessed with it in the early-90's when the Melvins made it a cornerstone of so many of their shows.  As the set ran its course I was reminded that the beauty of any Alice show is how he can deliver a 1-2-3-4 punch of iconic songs that few others can match.  On this night he brought the house down in San Francisco by closing with 'I'm Eighteen' then 'Under My Wheels' then 'Poison' and then encoring with 'School's Out' complete with the usual confetti and balloons (Yayy!!).  I'm always struck by how youthful Alice still comes across performing 'I'm Eighteen' as he channels his own inner teenager after singing the song for 41 (!) years.  Watching him perform the song always makes me feel young again even when I think I'm the most jaded motherfucker.  Like Alice, I'm still 18 and I like it.

Number of authentic vintage 1973 Alice tour shirts = 1.  If you bought one of every Alice merch item you would have paid around $500.  I have to say that Alice's merch looked badass and his merch company has it dialed.  On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called me a fag.  Another thing I love about seeing an Alice Cooper concert is that most of the crowd is older than me for once.  

"I've got a baby's brain and an old man's heart..."