Review and photos by Robert Cavuoto
Alice Cooper is just four shows into his latest tour; A Paranormal Evening with Alice Cooper. Tonight’s stop is the Bergen PAC in Englewood New Jersey on March 5th.
As the first chords of “Brutal Planet” rang out, a ghoulish Alice Cooper appeared out of the shadows draped in a black cape amidst a fiery waterfall of sparks raining down on the stage. As he begins to sing he tosses his cape to expose his slim frame clad in black pants, a white shirt, and maroon velvet jacket.
His band slowly materializes from the smoky haze revealing Chuck Garric on bass, Glen Sobel on drums, and Nita Strauss, Ryan Roxie, & Tommy Henriksen on guitar.
Alice continuously prowls the stage with an air of confidence befitting one of the best frontmen of our time. His evil presence is felt in the hearts of his loyal subjects from the first row all the way to the back of the sold-out venue.
In the beginning of Alice’s career, he wanted parents to hate his band; those young fans are now grown and now taking their kids to see the show. A strange turn of events as Alice welcomes all newcomers. Prior to the performance, I asked Alice what it’s like performing night-after-night for over 48 years? He replied, “When the curtain goes up, it’s an all-out assault on the audience. When I get off stage, and I’m exhausted I know that I gave that audience everything I have! And the next night I’m going to do it all over again. If I have a toothache or a headache the adrenaline kicks in and takes care of it once I hit the stage. I never get tired of the songs.”
To his approving fans, Alice paid tribute to his 70’s glam roots by performing “I’m Eighteen,” “Billion Dollar Babies,” “Under my Wheel,” “Cold Ethyl,” and “Serious” off From the Inside which I don’t recall him playing live since I have been attending his shows.
Alice also didn’t shy away from playing new songs – “Fallen in Love,” and the infectious “Paranoiac Personality” off his 2017 release Paranormal. One of the more impactful moments of the night included the powerfully haunting “Feed my Frankenstein” where Alice appears on stage in a bloodied lab coat, is put on a high voltage laboratory table, and then turned into a 20-foot tall FrankenAlice who finishes singing the last chorus of the song.
Mid-set Alice dons a stove pipe hat and conductor’s baton to lead the band through an instrumental interlude on “Halo of Flies.” Chuck, Nita, Ryan, and Tommy meet at the center stage and all hell erupts with a rhythmic assault on the audience for a tour de force of musical excellence! Each member of Alice’s band excels at his or her craft and took turns showing off their musical chops. The band has an amazing comradery and stage presence that keeps the energy of the show at its highest level.
I spoke with Chuck about the importance of his role as bassist and working with such a high caliber of musicianship in the band; he told me, “The bass player and drummer, in my opinion, have the most important job. They have to be rock solid and provide a good foundation for the guitar players. Everybody in this band is a very accomplished musician and good at their craft. Whatever adjustments that needed to be made we figure it out and do it.”
By far Alice’s show is the longest-running freak show. In the true spirit of the night, Alice’s henchmen assist Nurse Rozetta [played by his wife Sheryl Cooper] in putting him in a straitjacket for “Ballad of Dwight Fry” only to get beheaded in the guillotine during “I Love the Dead.” It wouldn’t be an Alice Cooper show without hearing the epic, “School’s Out” for the final encore where balloons filled with confetti are tossed into the audience for Alice to stab with his sword.
Aside from these spectacular theatrics, Alice’s songs are the ribbon that ties the show together; without his great songs, the show wouldn’t have the longstanding impact it does. Alice truly seems to love performing which is a testament to the strength of the veteran rocker and his catalog. Alice is the stained, bloodied, soiled fabric of rock n’ roll, and he loves it…to death.
Any fan in attendance tonight will tell you Alice still embraces that raw grittiness and glam appeal he did decades ago. He is the ultimate performer and continuously gives his audience 110% thus making a supernatural connection with his fans.