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Vintage Alice Cooper Still Spectacle In Leather
August 2, 2004
By KENNETH PARTRIDGE, Special to the Courant
As Freddy Krueger and Hannibal Lechter are to film, Alice Cooper is to rock `n' roll. The three characters share a dark affability and over-the-top charm that amuses more than it terrifies, purposely inviting audiences to cheer on their villainy regardless of the body count.
Saturday night at the Oakdale Theater in Wallingford, Alice Cooper didn't do much gouging, though he did brandish a sword, feign suicide and pretend to slit the throat of a female dancer, who also happens to be his real-life daughter. Cooper and his band relied on timeless rock angst and demonic Rolling Stones chord progressions. Predictably, the crowd was on his side.
Dressed in at least three dead cows' worth of leather, Cooper didn't look much different Saturday than he did in the mid `70s. As he segued from the opening "Hello Hooray" into "No More Mr. Nice Guy," he prowled the stage with black baton in hand, scowling at the audience through makeup-smudged eyes without once breaking character.
The same honesty that lets Cooper put on his spectacle-laden show without pretension or irony, also drove him to confront an issue that was no doubt on the minds of many fans: his age.
With "Between High School and Old School," he seemed to admit his records aren't exactly making the high school rounds anymore. But cleverly he portrayed the younger generation's ambivalence as a response to his own artistic dilemmas: "I can't decide between my rules and your rules!"
Judging by Cooper's choice of opening band, Boston's Runner and the Thermodynamics, it's clear he's trying to play up the garage rock aspect of his legacy as much as the heavy metal influence he's become known for. A product of the same Detroit scene that spawned the Stooges and the MC5, Cooper has a legitimate claim, and songs like "School's Out" and "Poison" sounded more like fuzzed-out pre-punk than sign-of-the-beast metal.
With the night's final song, "Elected," Cooper made a bid for president. His message was sincere, if apathetic: "We've got problems in Hartford; we've got problems in Wallingford; we've got problems in Stamford, and personally, I don't care!" He may lack foreign policy experience, but at least he's got Sen. John Kerry's cheekbones.
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