by Jim Murchison
[NB: This is a review of a single-performance show]
Years ago a pair of gentleman named Vincent collaborated to create a classic rock theme. Vincent Price did the spoken introduction and Vincent Furnier performed the rest of the vocal. Of course Vincent Furnier is much better known by his stage name Alice Cooper. Cooper is certainly one of the earliest examples of rock and theatre fusion and his catchy hooks and showmanship are as important as his music. Fittingly the No more Mr Nice Guy tour opened with Price's famous intro. At the end of the intro the large drape at the front of the stage was yanked down to reveal Alice on a podium that looked to be about 12 feet above the stage. It is a good touch to have Alice start his act from a pulpit, especially since he is the son of a lay preacher, and he was definitely performing to the faithful.
The band for its part was solid but there were points where they overpowered the lyrics. Lead guitarist Orianthi Panagaris is definitely the musician with the most presence on stage. Her angelic look contrasts Cooper's craggy old villain, and her flashy playing style is the highlight of the band. But the conductor and band leader is clearly Cooper.
The harshest critics of Cooper will tell you that he relies on a lot of tricks. Well that's kind of the point. Cooper takes everyone's psychoses and brings them to life on stage with music and props. Everything we have nightmares about, from the large albino snake to the giant Frankenstein monster in Feed my Frankenstein is pulled out and the fans loved it. There aren't any surprises except maybe the recurring theme of the harassing paparazzi that is eventually skewered by a microphone stand. As much as the photographer was asking for his fate, justice needs to be done to his assassin. So the crowd happily cheers as Alice is apprehended and decapitated by guillotine.
There is no need to worry though. Alice is resurrected in time for the Grand Finale, School's Out for Summer. In his final costume change, and there are countless costume changes, he wears an Ottawa Senator's Jersey and finishes by telling us that all Ottawans are sick creatures and Ottawa appeared to appreciate the compliment.
The show is only 50 minutes long as Alice is playing in support of Iron Maiden, but he may have done an encore had it not been for the tight Bluesfest format. Personally I would have liked to hear Only Women Bleed. It would have shown off the balladeer and would have been an interesting change in the dynamic. In any event, the audience was probably 60% comprised of kids that were not yet conceived when the Alice Cooper character was born, so horror is a very enduring theme and fans of horror are certainly the most faithful. There will always be new fans of horror. The universal theme that we always relate to are our dreams and our nightmares.