Veteran Entertainer Delights Fans of All Ages at the Performing Arts Center
Jeff Walker Entertainment Review
For more than 50 years he's brought the shock and the rock to appreciative fans around the world. 75 years young Alice Cooper is the undisputable 'king of shock rock', and Monday night (May 15th) the Rock n' Roll Hall of Famer brought his 'Too Close For Comfort' show to the North Charleston Performing Arts Center, entertaining before a near sell-out crowd.
Casual and diehards enjoyed on hellacious show, as Cooper offered up a mix of Top 40 and classic rock radio hits strewn in among personal favorites he knows hardcore followers of his catalogue have come to appreciate. As he's been for all of his five decades in the limelight, Cooper is the ultimate rock n' roll showman, adding a bit of camp and lighthearted objectionable behavior to his concert. His shows are five percent vaudeville, five percent old school Hollywood horror, and 90 percent straight ahead kick ass Alice Cooper rock n' roll.
With his tour setlist etched in stone, to allow for his overall onstage performance, America's favorite shock rocker ripped through more than two dozen songs including partials and solo performances, giving everyone in the Charleston audience exactly what they paid to see, including his straightjacket bit, Alice's famous boa constrictor, and the ill-fated guillotine beheading.
Radio friendly hits included two right out of the gate 'No More Mr. Nice Guy' and 'I'm Eighteen', which followed the gut wrenching guitar driven opening number 'Lock Me Up' off Cooper's 10th solo release 'Raise Your Fist and Yell' (1987). 'Snakebite', and 'Hey Stoopid' were welcome numbers for avid fans, as a crew member shot paper bills into the crowd during 'Billion Dollar Babies'.
Accomplished musician Glen Sobel's drum solo paying tribute to 'Black JuJu' was a welcome gut punching transition into the second half of Cooper's show and a nice lead into 'Welcome to My Nightmare'.
'Only Women Bleed' and 'Poison' cracked the Top 10 more than a decade apart, but prove Cooper can deliver power ballads as well as hard rocking guitar laden numbers, with 'Feed My Frankenstein' enhanced by a giant monster puppet and a Vincent Price intro setting up guitarist Nita Strauss' ferocious axe solo. Just 36 years old Strauss is one of the premier heavy metal guitar slingers, and nearly ten years in Cooper's band, she's a force to be reckoned with.
'Killer', 'I Love the Dead', and 'Escape' drove staunch Cooper fans into a frenzy, allowing for epic finale. Although technically not his biggest hit, 'School's Out' is easily Cooper's most recognized single, and who but the mad rock n' roll scientist that is Alice Cooper would intermix his smash hit with Pink Floyd's 1980 anthem 'Another Brick in the Wall', as both songs pay homage to different spectrums of freedoms from education.
The nearly eight minute montage complete with giant balloons bouncing around the concert hall and Cooper as the musical headmaster had the everyone on their feet and singing in unison. The extended mix allowed Cooper to introduce one of finest and hardest working support bands on tour today, including his lovely wife Sheryl, who with her classically trained choreography skills Cooper abused as the 'Cold Ethyl', returning later in the show as the mid-19th century, blue-gowned, powder-wigged Marie Antiodeath who marched Cooper to the guillotine after 'The Ballad of Dwight Fry.'
With uncertainty in the upcoming 2024 presidential election, Cooper's final number 'Elected' no doubt struck a chord with his loyal followers. Cooper may have ended his show with "Whatever you do, DON’T vote for me", but given the current political climate a vote for the longstanding 'king of shock rock' just might be the ticket.
Except for the few appropriately placed props needed for specific numbers, Cooper's stage is clean allowing him and his musicians to freely move about. A full screen video backdrop behind Sobel's massive drum kit provided everyone in the auditorium an up close and personal view of all the crazy Cooper was unleashing on stage.
Aside from a select few under 40, almost the entire crowd was made up of fans 65 and older, with several sporting past tour T-shirts, grey hair, no hair, pony-tails, tie-dye, and some with leather outfits. Concert goers I spoke with came from Columbia, Aiken, Savannah, and Georgetown, with a few travelling from Georgia and North Carolina.
Alice Cooper is physically fit, mentally and morally sound, and damn well sure knows how to play to a crowd. Given his age his voice is intact. Hell if Mick Jagger can still prance around the stage just shy of 80, than Cooper no doubt has several more years to entertain a legion of fans. I encourage long time fans and those interested in witnessing a veteran performer still at the top of his game to catch the 'Too Close For Comfort' tour as it makes it's way across America.