Review and live photos by Robert Cavuoto
When things go bump in the night, there is a good chance that Alice Cooper is behind it. Tonight it wasn’t just a bump; the Alice Cooper Band came kicking and screaming into Bethlehem, PA, on the opening night of their Detroit Muscle 2022 Tour, with Hell in tow! It was evident that no one in the sold-out venue would be safe from Alice and his band of mercenaries.
There’s a reason why Alice has survived a 50+ year career, the pandemic, and the industry’s ups & downs as he knows how to give his fans the hits compassed in a macabre show of epic proportions with tremendously talented musicians. Alice’s goal is to make everyone feel on edge during the 90-minute show, regardless if it’s your first time seeing him or your 100th! In a prior interview, Alice explained that sentiment to me, “My show has a reputation that its goings to be different from anything they have ever seen before. Even if they have seen it, there will be a new aspect or song that we added to change it up. Whether we are playing in front of 500 people or 5 million, we’ll give it our all and make it the best show you have ever seen. We only know how to do it that one way! 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 I gave that audience everything I have! And the next night, I will do it all over again. I never get tired of the songs once I see the crowd’s reaction.”
The show opened with a frightful and sonically powerful “Feed My Frankenstein” and proceeded to tear through “No More Mr. Nice Guy,” “Bed of Nails,” and the crowd pleaser “Hey Stoopid.” It was one of the best setlist in recent years, by including classics, “Go to Hell, “Poison,” and “House of Fire.” Throughout the show, Alice brought a diverse montage of ghoulish characters along for the ride. It was as if they walked off the silver screen and onto the stage; case in point when Jason of Friday the 13th slayed a few unsuspecting fans who happened to wander on stage during “He’s Back,” and an engorged tattooed baby terrorizes the band during “Billion Dollar Babies.” It’s all done in good clean fun, and fans were screaming for more! During “Steven,” a psychotic specter played by Alice’s wife, Sheryl, chases him around the stage only to trap him in a guillotine and then cut his head off in a bloody confrontation! Have no fear; Alice returns meaner and better than ever to finish the show.
Alice’s band consists of a group of tight-knit, top-notch musicians, including guitarists Ryan Roxie and Tommy Henriksen, bassist Chuck Garric, drummer Glen Sobel, and returning guitarist Kane Robert. Kane was Alice’s, a Rambo-esque guitarist in the late 80s who performed on Constrictor and Raise Your Fists and Yell albums.
Few can argue that Alice is the greatest theatrical frontman who established the blueprint for how bands should deliver a performance. At 74, the notorious shock-rocker is in peak shape physically and vocally. He has maintained his thrilling stage persona and villainous antics without apology since the late 1960s. Don’t expect him to break character by introducing a song, smiling, or laughing, as that never happens. Band members and the audience also need to be extra vigilant to avoid getting hit with a cane, whip, sword, dagger, or crutch, which Alice wields in almost every song. When evil incarnate is right in front of you, it is hard not to get too close!
Kane shared a crazy stage mishap from the 80s that involved himself, Alice, and a flame-throwing machine gun guitar, “When we went overseas, we were not allowed to take over any charges and had to purchase explosives in England for a show at Wembley. Pre-show, my tech told me the new configuration on the guitar was all figured out. We were on a huge stage; when it came time for the solo, I pulled the trigger, and the guitar shot a 30-foot flame through the air. Alice showed up at the edge of the stage while I was doing my solo, which he never does, so I backed up to a safe distance and aimed the guitar at him. I pulled the trigger, but this time I heard what sounded like two pieces of metal slap together, and a roman candle missile shot out of the guitar hitting Alice in the leg. He almost fainted, and I thought I had killed him. The audience goes nuts as they thought it was part of the show. This is all happening while the guitar is still shooting flames! My tech ran on stage, took the guitar while it was still on fire, and ran outside with it.” Good news, fans; the machine gun guitar is back, but now it’s modified to shoot CO2 rather than flames.
There is an unbridled passion with these musicians as they each take turns in the spotlight for solos or critical moments in the song alongside Alice. Ryan and Tommy are the melody markers to Kane’s shredding. Instead of a wall of noise that you might expect with three guitarists, they all take different nuances of the songs. When Ryan, Chuck, Kane, and Tommy take center stage, standing shoulder to shoulder like the four horsemen of the Apocalypse, they deliver a monstrous wall of guitars. They all work off each other nicely, with their sound and styles merging perfectly. Glen is the fiery drummer who keeps the band’s time, pace, and form. Chuck is the Beastmaster of the group who lays down the low end. You have him to thank when you feel the beat kicking you in the ass. He brings energy to the big moments and understands the sensitive ones making the music sound and feel good. He also knows the balancing act of when to use it and when to entertain the audience.
It is evident that Alice and his band are a force to be reckoned with, and he is just as charismatic as he was at the beginning of his career. He still packs the vocal ability fans expect, dresses the part, and commands the stage while his band delivers every song perfectly and entertains the crowd.
Alice and his band will be touring the United States until October 29th. Check out the complete tour schedule here for tickets.