Alice Cooper At The Calvin Theater

Written by on September 22, 2011 in Live Reviews, September 22, 2011 - Comments Off on Alice Cooper At The Calvin Theater

Northampton, Massachusetts
August 25, 2011

Review by Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
(Photos Provided By Steve Trager)

Alice CooperI have been following Alice Cooper (VincentDamonFurnier) since the 70s and clearly remember staying up very late to catch the Welcome To My Nightmare movie premiere on network TV. That was Alice’s first of many successful solo albums after breaking away from the original group that helped to cement his name forever in our minds. With songs like “School’s Out,” “I’m Eighteen” and “No More Mr. Nice Guy” and several others, Alice was already an established worldwide star.

I am sitting here wondering why it took me so long to get off my duff and catch a concert from the King of Shock Rock, as he was dubbed so many years ago. His influence ranges far and wide, just ask Kiss or Marilyn Manson who their influences were and certainly Cooper’s name would be mentioned at the top of the list.

When Alice sang in his song “Guilty” – “I’m a dirt-talkin’, beer drinkin’, woman chasin’ minister’s son”, he was not kidding. It was all true. His father was a minister and he would eventually develop a serious drinking problem and kicked that habit many years ago with the help of his activity on the golf course. The book “Billion Dollar Babies” (named after the very successful album) goes into detail of how insane the life of rock ‘n’ roll stars really is when things get out of control. Alice is one of the lucky ones that survived all of that and is still performing today. At 63 years of age he still has the energy of someone half his age and, as we were all to find out, he can still put on one great show.

His band is a combination of veterans including Steve Hunter, a fabulous guitar player (who played on Welcome To My Nightmare, Alice Cooper Goes To Hell and also on Lou Reed’s Rock n’ Roll Animal amongst others), Damon Johnson (guitar), Chuck Garic (bass), Tommy Henriksen (guitar) and Glen Sobel (drums). This guitar army creates a heavy wall of sound for Alice’s surprisingly strong vocals. This was the first concert in quite some time where I left with my ears ringing and felt the effects well into the following day.

The Calvin in Northampton, Massachusetts is a nice venue featuring 700 unobscured seats. We were in the right orchestra pit several rows back. However, they were excellent seats and I was surprised how good they actually were. After the opening band Livan, a rock band from England who played around 6 songs, it was time for Alice. I must say we were more than ready for Livan to finish their set as they were not very impressive and the lead singer had an annoying voice that did not take long to get on your nerves.

A huge curtain with the bust of Alice adorned the stage then at around 9pm the beginning of “Black Widow” started to ring out and the curtain fell to reveal Alice in a high rise lift dressed with silver spider legs up and down each arm. The crowd exploded with a wave of energy that can only be explained if you were there to experience it. So the show was on and Alice was ready to entertain us with all of his characters, props and hard rock music.

Alice certainly takes a page out of old vaudeville for his act and he does it all so very well. The return of Steve Hunter on lead guitar has contributed to the intensity and tightness of the band and Alice sounds very strong and is always in command on stage. The one thing I did notice was that the band liked to interact with crowd and of course Alice was right there upfront putting on a show and throwing out props that would become treasured keepsakes for his fans.

It was a lot of fun even though I had to stand through the entire concert, and I have to admit I had a smile on my face the entire evening. Alice takes you through 40 years of recorded history with his show. Highlights included the opener “Black Widow,” “Is It My Body” complete with a live boa constrictor wrapped around Alice’s neck, “Wicked Young Man,” where the singer gets beheaded by a guillotine, an incredible version of the monster track “Halo of Flies” and the surprise of the night “Feed My Frankenstein,” when a huge monster comes out on stage and walks around taunting the band. Worthy of mention is “School’s Out” when everyone there sang the anthem along with Alice. And as a special treat, attendees got a glimpse of his upcoming album Welcome 2 My Nightmare with the lead-off single “I’ll Bite Your Face Off”.

Every song was done extremely well and I have to say I did not expect the show to be so good. After watching a video of a concert from last year I was not too sure what to expect, but this performance cast all of my doubts aside and made me realize why I was a lifetime Alice Cooper fan. I would not hesitate attending another performance to see one of our rock legends own the stage and rock the night away.

Track List:

  • Black Widow
  • Brutal PLanet
  • I’m Eighteen
  • Under My Wheels
  • Billion Dollar Babies
  • No More Mr. Nice Guy
  • Hey Stoopid
  • Is It My Body
  • Halo of Flies
  • I’ll Bite Your Face Off
  • Muscle of Love
  • Only Women Bleed
  • Cold Ethyl
  • Feed My Frankenstein
  • Clones
  • Poison
  • Wicked Young Man
  • I Love the Dead
  • School’s Out
  • Elected (Encore)

Keith “MuzikMan” Founder