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Concert Reviews:
Alice Cooper does it Detroit style at DTE

for Journal Register Newspapers

Posted: Sunday, August 28, 2011

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INDEPENDENCE TOWNSHIP -- Alice Cooper does things a little differently when he comes to Detroit.

Oh, he delivers his tightly scripted shock rock exposition with the same tongue-in-cheek, ghoulish glee that he does everywhere else. But as Cooper was quick to note Saturday night (Aug. 27) at the DTE Energy Music Theatre, he's "from here." So in addition to the other theatrics he sported a Tigers away jersey during "School's Out" and a Matt Stafford Lions' jersey for the encore, "Elected." And when he spoke about "problems in Detroit, problems in Lansing, problems in Grand Rapids..." during the latter, the sold-out DTE crowd appreciated that Cooper could at least point them out on a map.

Saturday's show had another different wrinkle, too; as the last night of the summer North American leg of Cooper's No More Mr. Nice Guy world tour, it also marked guitarist Damon Johnson's last night with the band (he's moving on to join Thin Lizzy. He confessed to tearing up as the group took its final bows, but his emotions quickly changed when he received a pie in the face from Cooper and other band members.

All of that only made a good show that much more special. Thanks to one of the strongest bands he's had in recent years -- including the return of mid-70s guitarist Steve Hunter -- and a series of clever but complementary set pieces and special effects, the 95-minute concert zipped by at a brisk and sometimes ferocious pace, from the taped Vincent Price introduction to the confetti and aforementioned pie antics of "Elected." The 20-song set list offered a broad sampling from Cooper's 42-year recording career, and if he didn't explicitly mention his Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction earlier this year the songs and showmanship certainly reminded the DTE crowd why is was so well-deserved.

Cooper and company kicked things off with "The Black Widow" from "Welcome to My Nightmare," with Cooper dressed in a jacket with six spider-like arms and singing from atop a tall platform. He regaled the crowd with plenty of hits ("I'm Eighteen," "Billion Dollar Babies," "No More Mr. Nice Guy," "Hey Stoopid," "Poison") as well as favorite album tracks such as "Under My Wheels," "Halo of Flies" and a particularly welcome "Clones (We're All)."

Visual totems from Cooper's past included the snake that wrapped around his shoulders and slithered atop his head during "Is It My Body" and the sword full of bills he brandished above the audience during "Billion Dollar Babies." He alternately serenaded and terrorized a life-size female doll during "Only Women Bleed" and "Cold Ethyl," and after "killing" a pushy photographer during "Wicked Young Man," he wound up beheaded in a guillotine while the band played "Killer." "School's Out," meanwhile, featured the usual wealth of large, confetti-filled balloons tossed out to the crowd and mashed up the song with a bit of Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall, Part II."

This year's primary new device was a massive monster puppet that strode around the stage, "singing" the final chorus of "Feed My Frankenstein" while it stalked the band members. And for "I'll Bite Your Face Off," the first single from Cooper's upcoming "Welcome 2 My Nightmare" (due Sept. 13), he sported a jacket with the words New Song scrawled on the back, which he took off to reveal a blood-splattered T-shirt emblazoned with the song's title.

During "Elected," declared himself "a troubled man for troubled times," but he was the perfect candidate for a Saturday night rock show in his home town.

The Detroit flavor played throughout the night at DTE, too. Local rockers Artificial Agent warmed things up with their own brand of glammy, Cooper-influenced heaviness, with Ace Frehley, an adopted son from his days in Kiss, went down a storm with his guitar heroics and a set list that dipped into his old band's repertoire for crowd-pleasers such as "Detroit Rock City," "Shock Me," "Shout it Out Loud," "Love Gun" and "Cold Gin."

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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