Alice Cooper headlined this season's first outdoor summer concert at Northern Quest on Sunday night.
I'm not going to say that Alice Cooper made a deal with the devil to still be so spry and rocking at 69 years old — as we all know by now, the man's an avowed Christian — but there's something unnatural about how much raucous fun the man still has on stage, nearly 50 years after first hitting the public eye.
Sunday night, Cooper kicked off Northern Quest's Outdoor Summer Concerts series with a setlist that leaned hard on his '70s-era classics like Welcome to My Nightmare
and Billion Dollar Babies
. In the process, he showed why he's considered a garage-rock pioneer, while still offering up the theatrics one has come to expect from an Alice Cooper show.
A live boa constrictor for "Welcome to My Nightmare." A Frankenstein monster for "Feed My Frankenstein." Alice in a straightjacket for "The Ballad of Dwight Fry." Alice beheaded with a guillotine just before "Killer/I Love The Dead." All the eye-candy greatest hits were there, and entertaining for sure.
Don't get too close to that walking stick, people.
I'll admit that for years, before ever seeing Alice Cooper perform, I thought the theatrics were the ONLY reason to go to an Alice Cooper show. But that's not the case, as he emphatically proved Sunday night with a barreling performance that touched on punk, metal, blues and Tin Pan Alley balladry over the course of about 20 songs. An Alice Cooper show is inherently musical — and much more so than many of the heavy metal bands he's toured with since his '80s comeback with songs like "Poison."
That tune that came about halfway through the show after an extended guitar solo by Nita Strauss, one of three guitarists in the band (alongside Ryan Roxie and Tommy Henriksen) who collectively gave the show all the muscle any rock fan could ask for. Cooper bragged about his band's excellence when we talked with him
, and he was right; they are musically excellent and visually appealing as part of the Alice Cooper spectacle.
Nita Strauss was one of three guitarists bringing Alice Cooper's nightmare to life on stage.
Cooper launched the show in a shower of sparks and the band was on fire from the jump on opener "Brutal Planet" and its follow-up of "No More Mr. Nice Guy" and "Under My Wheels." From there, the energy rarely flagged even for ballads like "Only Women Bleed." "Lost in America" offered a New York Dolls-style blast of garage rock, and anthems like "Billion Dollar Babies" and "I'm Eighteen" remain live favorites for good reason.
While Cooper didn't chat a lot with the crowd, his show and the strength of his tunes combined to make him, still, a must-see. Opener Dokken was much more chatty with the early arriving audience, with founding members Don Dokken and drummer Mick Brown cracking constant jokes about their age and "misbehaving in the '80s."
Dokken also fought through a hot evening sun and seated, somewhat lethargic early audience to deliver a solid hour of their '80s hits like "The Hunter," "Dream Warriors," "Kiss of Death," "Breaking the Chains" and "In My Dreams."
Dokken doesn't deal with sunlight too well, according to lead singer Don Dokken.