Alice Cooper - Live At Montreux 2005
As the first non-archive DVD since the excellent 'Brutally Live' 6 years ago this one is something of a mixed bag. While it's great to have a new live DVD there seems to be a distinct lack of atmosphere to this one. I've been trying to work out why and the only thing I can really come up with is that it's just too bright. The stage seems floodlit throughout the show and the HiDef cameras make everything squeeky clean and sharp. While this would seem to be a good thing, to me it seems tozap much of the atmosphere from the show which is a shame. Maybe rock'n'roll needs a little dirt, but this is so clinical it could be recorded in a TV studio.
Add to this the natural repetition of most of the songs from previous DVD releases (only 4 of the 27 songs are post-1994, and 19 are pre-1980!) and it's hard to call this one essential. The lack of any bonus features is also a problem (what happened to the interview specially recorded and aired on the Swizz TV transmission?),however you do get a rather nice soundtrack CD which in some ways actually stands up better then the DVD itself, although why they chose to cut 'The Piece' from the CD is beyond me when, again, many tracks on the CD are duplicated from other live releases many times. 'The Piece' is the highlight of the show and is surely preferable to yet more live versions of 'Billion Dollar Babies', 'Be My Lover' etc. Of course all the tracks are on the DVD so the ideal solution is to simple record the soundtrack yourself and have the full show!
But enough of the negatives and let's look at the positives. As everybody should expect by now the band all put in excellent performances and Alice is as good as ever, his voice sounding excellent. They just don't do a bad show. Personally I skip the drum solo, but I suppose if it was cut many people would complain about it not being the complete show so what you get is the greatest hits set from start to finish that Alice has been touring for the last few years. All the standards are there but it really is the the other material that makes this worthwhile. If only there was more of it! 'Dirty Diamonds' and 'Woman Of Mass Distraction' sound even better live then on the studio album, but the real highlight is 'The Piece', the medley of songs featured in the set the last year or so starting with 'The Awakening' and running through to the execution. While we only get short teasers of 'Steven' and 'Killer' rather then the full song, 'Dwight Fry' is as potent as ever and 'The Awakening' is chilling to hear live with Alice's solo vocal being outstanding.
All the real theatrics are in this second part of the show and while, guillotine aside, there's no big effects or stunts, what is there works pretty well with Calico obviously enjoying being on stage and Alice proving he is still the master showmen. The DVD also shows how much is lost for people outside the front few rows as his facial expressions and smalliest movements often add to the words he's singing in a way that is lost to 99% of the normal audience through distance. Again 'Dwight Fry; is a good example, as close up you can see the madness in his eyes, something impossible to most of the audience at a show.
So all in all a worthwhile release, especially with the CD included, but not one that can hold a candle to the big productions of 'Brutally Live' or 'Trashes The World'. While there's nothng wrong with the current show, we all know it could be much more and that's the problem nowadays. Alice has set the bar SO high that now even he has trouble reaching it. Here's hoping for a new show next year which ups the theatrics and freshens up the setlist a little.
Alice Cooper Live At Montreux…a Highly Subjective Review
By Alienspice July 2006
Disclaimer: This review was written late at night under the influence of too much coffee. Also, I borrowed the DVD, so I don't have the CD to comment on. And, if you are
annoyed by silly fangirl behavior, you might want to stop reading now.
ON with the show!
Opening shot: nice pan of the crowd. If only this were the last pan of the crowd, we might be very impressed. Unfortunately, similar pans of the crowd occur at inopportune moments throughout, adding nothing to the viewer's enjoyment.
Department of Youth: wherein the camera positions are firmly established: Eric's armpit, Damon's legs, Roxie's crotch (um, sorry, guitar) and Chuck…well, we get to see Chuck here at the beginning and then not much at all for the rest of the show until he takes his shirt off. Alice sounds great on this number, and we get a fleeting pants cam shot. Yay!
No More Mister Nice Guy: sounds good! Alice and Roxie make a nice simultaneous punch, and Roxie's face is shown briefly for the first time. Then it's back to the crotch (I mean guitar)
Dirty Diamonds: a great closeup of Alice's arm…unfortunately the diamonds are in the other hand. If Alice did anything "dirty" with those diamonds we missed it. Charming rock faces from Roxie and Chuck. Eric is overplaying a bit here…he can't really hang with Tommy's restrained drumming style.
Billion Dollar Babies: there's some terrible feedback in the middle of this song, and the cameras are all over the place. It would have been nice to be able to see the dollars, or the fencing, or Roxie playing the riff. A dedicated pants cam would have shown what an excellent dancer Alice is, but we have to fill it in with our imaginations.
Be My Lover: wherein we ask—what exactly is Alice wearing here? There are some straps I don't understand. Alice sounds fantastic on this number, and we get to see his sexy moves. However, I could have done without the extreme close-up of the stains on Roxie's pants leg.
Lost In America: Finally we get the pants cam upshot of Alice we've been waiting for! And Eric Singer has a face! So does Roxie! Sounds great, though I'm still not sure why they chose to put this song in the set.
I Never Cry: Ooooh, I could listen to this all day. So pretty. Chuck really seems to be loving it.
Woman of Mass Distraction: This is an akward transition, though it seemed to make more sense to me when I saw the show live. I think Alice is making up words to this song. Roxie starts flopping around like a muppet, and then another superfluous crowd pan shot of people not really getting into it. Sigh.
I'm Eighteen: Alice sounds great on this, and playing the crutch along with Roxie is HOT! However, I still prefer the pool cue. Aw. Mom and Dad's got him drinking beer again. Nice Roxie cam for a second, followed by a 30 second Damon solo shot where you see something other than his legs.
Between High School and Old School: as a Roxie fan I feel like I need to defend this song, but I think it is rather out of place here. Also, the arrangement doesn't sound too good. But, there's a nice pants cam shot.
What Do You Want From Me? : I wrote "stomp the Chihuahua" but I am not really sure why. Roxie's vocals aren't very good. Again, the bad arrangement is redeemed with an excellent pants cam shot. Thanks camera guys! Roxie does a good duckwalk near the end.
Is It My Body? : Hello Roxie! Nice shot of his face. Alice does some spectacular dance moves, and the camera chooses instead to do another crowd pan. Harrumph.
Go To Hell: The close ups on Alice's face are not flattering. He sounds good though. Roxie looks really good in the red light, but Calico is doing all kinds of crazy stuff with the whip and we are missing it. Decent job capturing the "trick" though.
Black Widow: awesome guitar from Damon! Nice Roxie cam! Woohoo!
Drum Solo: this drum solo is not as interesting as the one in Brutally Live, and the
maddening cutaway editing does nothing to help. It is funny to watch in fast motion
though. I appreciate the fact that Eric does not make excruciating "rock faces" while
playing the drums.
Gimme: Worth the price of admission! Alice's voice doesn't sound great, but the visuals are fantastic.
Feed My Frankenstein: Roxie looks GOOD in green light! The audience is really getting into this one. Was it a particular hit in Switzerland? Nice pants cam shot, and Damon and Roxie's mini guitar war is fun.
Welcome to My Nightmare: sounds really great! Nice tight close up on Alice being scary.
The Awakening: eek! This is scary. Alice sounds and looks SO good.
Steven: the first time I watched this I couldn't tell he had the knife. Bad camera angle, I think. Good close up on the crazy eyes though.
Only Women Bleed: I think I am officially over this song. However, the menace on Alice's face at the beginning makes it worthwhile. (I didn't take many notes on Calico, which makes me think that the cameras didn't do a very good job of capturing her dance. Or maybe it's just me.)
Dwight Fry: this is a great performance which is ruined for me by the black and white video trick. I also don't understand why the audience doesn't go nuts when he escapes.
Killer: another one that makes it all worthwhile, great sound and good job capturing the drama of the moment. Also, bonus rear pants cams for Eric and Chuck, which is probably nice for some people. I don't think the guillotine bit was captured very well, but it also sort of seems like they were still working the kinks out as far as the stage show. I seem to remember the lighting being a lot more dramatic when I saw it live.
I Love the Dead: Roxie redeems himself on vocals. The blood cam is fantastic! The "ghoulie" is really making out with that head! Excellent solos from Damon and Roxie.
School's Out: Vocally not so great, which you don't notice when you are there because it's party time and so much fun. Eric really shines on this number. Alice has confetti in his hair, which is so cute! Good Roxie face cam, and thank heavens they actually got Eric catching the hat…almost missed it!
Poison: I guess he HAS to do this one since it's the big "hit", but sheesh. He just can't sing it very well live. I think Eric flubs a beat here, but the pants cam and Roxie spinning makes up for it.
Wish I Was Born…: I think they did a bad job capturing Calico's work in general in this show. Alice's fruity little purse walk is great though!
Under My Wheels: Excellent use of cowbell, great duckwalk from Roxie, and great finale. What's My Name?!?!
The ending of the DVD seems a little unceremonious, though. I think there ought to be a few more bells and whistles, but all in all, it's nice to have a document of this tour. Especially one before Roxie grew that weird pirate style facial hair.