Written By Braddon S. Williams aka “The Concert Critic”

On this date in history, 7/11/2019, I saw Alice Cooper for the 10th time. The show took place at the prestigious Honeywell Center in Wabash, IN.

It is challenging to do these reviews after seeing some of my favorite artists so many times. Aerosmith, Ozzy Osbourne, and Slayer are all similar situations. On the one hand, I keep going back because these artists are ingrained in my musical consciousness and I have absolute passion for everything they do and all they stand for. A simpler reason is that they continue to play incredible shows.

Alice Cooper hit the stage with a brand new set (a haunted castle…quite amazing to behold) and dug deep into his treasure chest of songs and pulled out some gems I had never heard him perform before. The song My Stars from 1972’s School’s Out album was terrific, as was the title track from 1973’s Muscle Of Love. Not only did these songs bring some new energy to the show, they provided some exciting riffs for Alice’s all-star band to add their magical touches to.

Another deep cut that got a particularly hard rocking makeover was Roses On White Lace from 1987’s Raise Your Fist And Yell, providing a fast metallic riff for the shredding of Nita Strauss, one third of Alice’s assassination squad of lead guitar aces. Each of these three got plenty of space to shine, and each have their own distinctive style that suits different facets of Cooper’s career.

During one early song, Cooper displayed some tasty blues harmonica, accompanied by Wabash native Tommy Henriksen, who played some back and forth lead guitar with the bosses harp licks.

Ryan Roxie, the longest tenured of the trio, played lots of melodic and soaring lead lines from some of the most classic songs.

Once again, drummer Glen Sobel delivered an absolutely jaw dropping drum solo on the capacity crowd, accompanied by bass playing muscle man, Chuck Garric (who has been a mainstay since 2002).

As admittedly superb as the musicians are (and they are the top of the line, each and every one), no Cooper show is based solely on music, and this was no exception. The theatrics were all in place, from the giant Frankenstein monster who made a brief appearance during the opening Feed My Frankenstein, and a full rampage later on Teenage Frankenstein, to a truly spectacular larger than life evil baby (looking a bit like the Stay Puffed Marshmallow Man with Alice Cooper makeup!). This baby took place in the onstage “execution” of Alice by guillotine. Although the guillotine had a malfunction, the old gag still provides a great bit of suspense and entertainment. Alice did his straitjacket appearance while singing Steven from the magnificent Welcome To My Nightmare album (1975), and segued into Dead Babies from Killer (1971).

Cooper’s wife Sheryl played the part of the evil nurse with sadistic glee. So, this was the 10th time for me, but I’m not done yet! Going back for more in November, when Alice brings the show back to the Murat Theatre at The Old National Centre…to be continued!

On This Date in History

Written By Braddon S. Williams

Alice Cooper: Welcome To My Nightmare

Alice Cooper released his first solo album, Welcome To My Nightmare, in 1975. All his previous albums had been the Alice Cooper group. With Nightmare, the Coop had basically bought Lou Reed’s stellar backing band and enlisted the production wizardry of Bob Ezrin to create the fantastic concept of a boy/man named Steven and his nightmares.

Alice made a tv special based on the record and launched a massive tour in support of his new solo identity. I remember purchasing this album and spending considerable time investigating all the sonic possibilities within via a great set of headphones.

Horror movie legend Vincent Price performed a suitably creepy voice over for the song The Black Widow (that I have memorized still to this day).

Images abound in the songs, like the frozen lover in Cold Ethyl, the abused woman in Only Women Bleed, the spiders coming out to play in the bridge between Devil’s Food (with one of the heaviest riffs I had heard up to that time) and The Black Widow. Then, on side two, the cinematic trio of Years Ago, Steven, and The Awakening provided me with a mini-movie of the mind every time I listened to them.

The hard rocking Department Of Youth united all of us alienated teens, and the nearly punk energy of Escape brought the party to a satisfying close.

In 2011, Cooper even made a sequel, Welcome 2 My Nightmare (reminding me that I need to pick that up one of these days), another concept album that continues the story line, I believe. I have been an enormous fan of Alice Cooper since my very earliest days of being consumed by my lifelong obsession and love affair with rock music.

In July of this year I will be seeing him live for the 10th time. I am just as excited about this as I was the first time I saw him perform in 1978. Long live the Coop!

https://youtu.be/aOeP4p1fjMs

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

Written By Braddon S. Williams

Alice Cooper: From The Inside

Alice Cooper went to rehab and came out stronger than ever with From The Inside (1978).

The album is populated with characters based on people that Cooper encountered during his stay in a sanitarium for his alcoholism.

Alice co-wrote the lyrics with Bernie Taupin (on loan from Elton John) and assembled a fantastic studio band for this collection of amazing songs.

Some of my favorites include Jackknife Johnny, Serious, Nurse Rozetta, Millie And Billie, The Quiet Room, How You Gonna See Me Now, and Inmates (We’re All Crazy).

The album cover on the vinyl version was a lot of fun with its opening doors into the asylum and the hidden door where Alice was sitting in his quiet room laced up in a straight jacket.

The back side of the cover opened up to a picture of all the inmates rushing out with their release papers in hand.

I was lucky to see the tour that supported From The Inside and it remains one of the best staged concerts I have ever witnessed.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again…Long Live The Coop!

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

Written By Braddon S. Williams

ALICE COOPER: BILLION DOLLAR BABIES

Billion Dollar Babies (1973) by Alice Cooper, was just an enormously entertaining album (well, it still is) in my teenage years. Seriously, what other band back then was writing material this twisted?

Song titles alone tell the story…I Love The Dead, Raped And Freezin’, Sick Things, Unfinished Sweet, Generation Landslide…just genius level weirdness, but at the same time deliciously catchy.

These songs would get in your head and run around endlessly like a hamster on one of those wire wheels.

No More Mr. Nice Guy, Elected, Billion Dollar Babies, and Hello Hooray were all successful singles and have all been in regular rotation in Alice’s wonderful stage shows up to the present day. This album was recorded in a party atmosphere and I read somewhere that there were lots of prominent musicians who recorded various parts and sang backups, but there was so much extra-curricular activity taking place that nothing was properly documented.

It all worked out just fine for all of us diehard Alice Cooper fans, because Billion Dollar Babies is still as wonderful today as it was in 1973.

I had the original vinyl and it came with this huge Billion Dollar bill that had the band picture on the front in place of a dead president. Wish I still had that…it was a really cool artifact.

As I recall, the album itself was designed to look like a snakeskin wallet and when you opened it up, the bill was folded inside a slot that looked like a money clip. Those extra touches were one of the joys of the vinyl experience!

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

On this date in history, 3/29/2018, I returned to the luxurious Old National Centre’s Murat Theatre in Indianapolis to witness my 9th Alice Cooper show. Everyone in attendance at this one caught the final night of his current tour, and it was an electrified event of stellar proportions. Having just seen Alice at this same venue roughly a year and a half ago in October of 2016, I noticed a lot of similarities to the previous show, along with some streamlined changes, too.

Any act that has been touring as long as Alice has will have the songs that are set in stone in their sets, and the classics were well represented here, with “Billion Dollar Babies”, “I’m Eighteen”, “School’s Out”, and several others being crowd favorites. A lesser known gem, “Halo Of Flies”, returned as the band feature, with an absolutely sensational drum solo from Glen Sobel. Alice’s current hot shot (and literally HOT) lead guitarist, Nita Strauss, similarly had a solo spot earlier in the evening where she blazed away in guitar hero(ine) fashion…proving conclusively that women are shredding on equal ground with men and “plays pretty good for a girl” can be retired from discussion forever!

One of Alice’s heaviest songs, “Brutal Planet”, opened the show and set the tone for the hard rocking band’s performance throughout. In addition to Strauss, long time Cooper guitar ace Ryan Roxie, and Indianapolis native Tommy Henriksen rounded out the triple threat lead guitar arsenal, aided by the bottom end bass badassery of Chuck Garric. Alice even played some harmonica on one of the new songs.

During the encore of School’s Out (complete with bubbles, balloons, and the singalong edit of Another Brick In The Wall’s immortal “We don’t need no education” chorus) Alice introduced the band and his wife/dancer Sheryl. At the end of the introductions, he said the part of Alice Cooper was played by King Herod, a reference to him preparing to appear in NBC’s live broadcast of Jesus Christ Superstar (airing on Easter Sunday).

The 70 year old legend was in great voice, and aided by an absolutely energetic, entertaining, and astonishingly talented band, continues to be at the top of his game.

As long as the Coop is out there touring, I will make every effort to be in the audience. Long live the Coop!

Written By Braddon S. Williams AKA “The Concert Critic

On This Date in History

On this date in history, 10/5/2016, Alice Cooper played a magnificent show at the Old National Centre’s Murat Theatre. I’ve been going to rock concerts for 40 years now…the first one was in 1976, and that night’s Alice Cooper show was one of the best I have ever witnessed. The first time I saw him was in 1978 and his voice still sounds as strong as it did in his earliest recordings. The man is in his early 70’s and he owned the stage for 2 solid hours, playing hits, deep cuts (like a sizzling “Halo of Flies”, complete with phenomenal drum solo) and a 3 song tribute to The Who (Pinball Wizard), David Bowie (Suffragette City) and Motörhead (Ace of Spades), Alice’s band was simply top of the line, and I must give special mention to the stunningly beautiful Nita Strauss, who plays guitar even better than she looks! All the staging, theatrical effects, props and lighting were perfectly served by the wonderful Murat Theatre, a truly magnificent venue to see a live show! Long live the Coop…one of my all time favorite performers…still the King!

Written By Braddon S. Williams aka The Concert Critic

On This Date in History

On this date in history, 7/13/1996, a pretty cool triple bill featuring Scorpions, Alice Cooper, and Cheap Trick descended upon Deer Creek in Noblesville, IN. Cheap Trick opened with their always entertaining blend of cleverly rockin’ anthems and Rick Neilsen’s goofy and manic stage presence. Robin Zander sang his ass off and Bun E. Carlos and Tom Petersson held down the bottom end for Neilson and Zander’s guitar work. Their set was brief but filled with energy and no filler.

Alice Cooper was up next and suffered for the lack of nightfall to provide the properly ominous backdrop to his fiendishly spooky performance. Luckily for Cooper, he isn’t entirely reliant on visuals, possessing one of the richest and deepest catalogs of amazing songs in all of rock music. Alice also comes prepared with top notch musicians to provide the spark that ignites his superior stage persona. I personally felt that he should have headlined this show, but he made the best of what he was dealt, the consummate pro.

This was my first and only time seeing the mighty Scorpions, and they were a worthy main attraction. First of all they had a great sound mix, with the guitars blasting those German power riffs and skull ripping leads, thunderous drums and bass, and all of it topped by Klaus Meine’s distinctive and unmistakable voice.

That amazing vocal sound rode easily atop all the power underneath it and the set was a whirlwind of classic rock fury and choruses we all know by heart. Any of these bands can pull in a crowd, but all 3 together was definitely a memorable night of diversity.

Written By Braddon S. Williams AKA The Concert Critic

On This Date in History