Alice Cooper – Trusts Stadium, Auckland Sept. 22, 2011

It was March 5, 1973 when I first saw Alice Cooper. It was the Billion Dollar Babies tour and Alice was just starting to work his theatrics into the set…there was a dancing tooth that Alice chased with an oversized toothbrush and, of course, an execution of Alice.

Almost 40 years later and we meet again. Not much has changed. Alice is playing in a cavernous sports venue, just as he was back in ’73 and, although the prancing molar is gone, the execution still happens, resulting in a rousing version of I Love The Dead.

Alice has just released a new album, the “shriek-well” to 1975’s Welcome To My Nightmare entitled Welcome 2 My Nightmare. For this tour The Coop has brought back guitarist Steve Hunter who played on the original Nightmare album and tour. Also on board is 24-year-old Orianthi, an Australian blonde bombshell who was selected to play on Michael Jackson’s ill-fated “This Is It” tour. Rounding out the lineup is another guitarist, Tommy Henriksen, bass player Chuck Garric and drummer Glen Sobel. All are new to Alice’s band except Garric. Together they are probably the best band Alice has played with since the original Alice Cooper band broke up in 1974. The 3-guitar attack gives the songs plenty of muscle…with the sound tending to metal more than hard rock.

Alice seems to be concentrating on the music, rather than the theatrics on this tour, and that’s just fine by me. I consider Love It To Death and Killer, the two albums Cooper released in 1971 to be among the best hard rock albums ever and he played plenty from both…I’m Eighteen, Under My Wheels, Is It My Body and Halo Of Flies all came early in the 90-minute set along with hits like No More Mr. Nice Guy, Billion Dollar Babies and Hey Stoopid.

Only one song was presented from the new album. I’ll Bite your Face Off sounded right at home with the classics, wedged between Halo Of Flies and Muscle Of Love. Cooper didn’t completely ignore is later output, playing two tracks from 2000’s Brutal Planet and the 1989 power ballad Poison.

And those who attended hoping to see a bit of dress-up went home happy, with a 10-ft monster taking the stage during Feed My Frankenstein and the requisite beheading closing the show along with School’s Out and Elected.

At age 63, Alice Cooper looks and sounds better than ever and he still knows how to entertain a crowd.

Alice Cooper set list:

1. Black Widow
2. Brutal Planet
3. I’m Eighteen
4. Under My Wheels
5. Billion Dollar Babies
6. No More Mr. Nice Guy
7. Hey Stoopid
8. Is It My Body
9. Halo Of Flies
10. I’ll Bite Your Face Off
11. Muscle Of Love
12. Only Women Bleed
13. Cold Ethyl
14. Feed My Frankenstein
15. Clones (We’re All)
16. Poison
17. Wicked Young Man
18. Killer
19. I Love The Dead
20. School’s Out
21. Elected

Marty Duda