Alice Cooper – Beacon Theatre – 7/18/13


Better Than: It’s Alice Cooper. It’s better than everything.

They say that after a nuclear holocaust, there will be two things left: cockroaches and Cher. It’s time to add a third likely survivor: Alice Cooper.

The original shock rocker, now 65, commanded the sold-out Beacon Theater last night with the panache of a veteran vaudevillian. While his face may bear the signs of aging, his presence, his voice, and his classic songs do not. He’s been “beheaded” onstage probably more times than anyone can count, and the schtick never gets old. With enough costume changes to rival any record set by his hypothetical partner in nuclear fallout survival (Cher, not the cockroaches), the Coop is the consummate rock showman.

See also: Alice Cooper’s Best Songs … According To Alice Cooper

A curtain of gold firework sparks rained down onto the stage as the show began with “Hello, Hooray,” from the Billion Dollar Babies record. Cooper appeared in a cherry red and black striped suit and wielded a cane, which he’s gotten very good at twirling over the years. It seemed at first as though this would be a straight-ahead rock show, heavy on props and light on theatrical slight-of-hand. Cooper sprinkled dollar bills on the front rows during “Billion Dollar Babies”. He clutched a giant coffee mug that looked more like a beer stein for “Caffeine” and tossed beaded necklaces into the audience during “Dirty Diamonds.” But after a show-stopping drum solo and a rippin’, cat-in-heat squealing guitar solo by Orianthi (whose Slash-meets-Sean Yseult vibe is getting more of the spotlight than any of the other musicians on this tour), the performance took a turn toward the gallows humor shenanigans for which Cooper is best-known.

See more photos of Alice Cooper last night at the Beacon Theatre.

A thunderstorm interlude hastened “Welcome to My Nightmare,” sung with Cooper in an oversized top hat and brandishing a dagger. There was whip-swinging in “Go to Hell.” The famous live python coiled itself around Cooper’s head like a turban during “Devil’s Food.” In a bloodied lab coat, Cooper “disappeared” from an upright stretcher, cuing a giant, puppet-on-stilts Frankenstein monster to storm the stage.

See more photos of Alice Cooper last night at the Beacon Theatre.

Two ghoulish nurses wrapped Cooper in a straight jacket for “The Ballad of Dwight Fry”–he escaped, of course, Houdini-like, tried to strangle a nurse, and for his sins was sentenced to the guillotine, where, naturally, he was decapitated. The audience joined in the chorus of “I Love the Dead” as the executioner kissed Cooper’s severed head.

See more photos of Alice Cooper last night at the Beacon Theatre.

A strange third act was added to the show–four cover songs by late rock legends, the birth and death dates of whom were revealed on a backdrop. Jim Morrison, John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix, and Keith Moon were acknowledged in this fashion, and Cooper gestured toward their names behind him and declared, “All my dead, drunk friends!” (After the show, he explained, “I used to get drunk with all those guys. Of course I quit that 30 years ago.”)

The night ended with classics “Eighteen” and “School’s Out,” celebrated with bubble machines, bursts of confetti and massive balloons into the theater, and a final round of fireworks. Following his roll call of the band members, rock’s über-villain proclaimed, “And playing the part of Alice Cooper tonight: me!” There’s certainly no mistaking him for anyone else.

See more photos of Alice Cooper last night at the Beacon Theatre.

Critical Bias: In the immortal words of Wayne and Garth, “We’re not worthy!

Overheard: “Off with his head!”

Random Notebook Dump: Did Harvey Fierstein do that voiceover?

All photos by Greg Christman.

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