Alice Cooper / Columbia, SC / 5-13-17

The last time Alice Cooper made a tour stop in Columbia, SC, Jimmy Carter was president, gas was .65 a gallon and Alice was a drunken mess.  Cooper's stop at the Carolina Coliseum on June 29, 1978 was part of his King of the Silver Screen tour promoting his then current album Lace and Whiskey.  Judging by the reaction of the packed crowd that assembled to see him Saturday night, it won't take 39 years to bring his show back to town.

Alice Cooper's shows are no longer the scary, dangerous concerts that your parents warned you about.  In fact, these days, it's probably your parents dragging you out to see it.  You should thank them.  The Alice Cooper Show is the rock and roll equivalent to a night at a carnival haunted house.  It's a fun time for the whole family.  It just happens to contain beheadings and a giant Frankenstein's monster that runs around the stage singing.  Without question, an Alice Cooper concert is one of the most fun nights out you can have.  In fact, several times during his performance at the Koger Center for the Arts, I looked around at the crowd and couldn't help but to notice how many smiles were on the faces of the packed crowd.  Apart from the theatrics, you've got some solid rock music that stands the test of time.  

Cooper's set list was very balanced.  In addition to the obvious hits "No More Mr. Nice Guy," "Billion Dollar Babies," and "Only Women Bleed," he treated his die hard fans to some deep cuts.  "The World Needs Guts," "Pain" and "Escape" all made their way into the set and stood strong next to the tried and true run throughs of "Poison" and "I'm Eighteen."  "The World Needs Guts" really showcased guitarist Nita Strauss with it's finger tapping and pure 80's flash.  While she may have been the featured band member, guitarists Ryan Roxie and Tommy Henriksen took turns leading the 3 guitar attack.  Long time bassist Chuck Garric was rock solid all night and even led the crowd through the chorus to the 1973 classic "I Love the Dead" following Cooper's beheading.  Drummer Glen Sobel's solo was outstanding during an intense version of the Killer track "Halo of Flies."  This current line up is one of the tightest bands that Cooper has ever had.  They can handle every corner of his varied 50 year career and they bring energy and stage presence to almost match their leader. 

Garric, Roxie, Cooper, Strauss, Henriksen, Sobel during final bow in Columbia, SC (Photo by Benji McKay)

 Cooper himself is as good as he's ever been.  At 69 years old, he seems to get better with age.  He commands the stage with his vaudevillian act and is a master at using body language to punctuate the lyrics to bring something extra to the performance.  Cooper is a living legend that still manages to rock the clubs, theaters and arenas better than most bands half his age.  

No Alice Cooper show would be complete with at least some level of theatrics.  The Spend the Night With Alice Cooper tour does not disappoint in this respect.  While overall, this may be less theatrical that most of his tours, it still contains the staples that he's known for.  The snake makes an appearance during "Welcome to My Nightmare."  Cooper's wife Cheryl is once again a part of the tour starring as the zombie pirate nurse.  Their interaction during "Ballad of Dwight Fry" is both hilarious and sad.  The obvious chemistry that these guys share really adds to the act and makes it that much better.  The guillotine, straight jacket, swords, crutches and balloons are all present.  A newer addition to Cooper's act is the minimal use of pyrotechnics.  It's the first time I've seen him where he's used some pyro.  It's not overused and is a nice topping to the rock and roll sundae.  

If the Spend the Night With Alice Cooper tour comes to your town and you even have a passing interest in Cooper or in rock music in general, you need to make it a priority to see this show.  After last year's loss of so many of our musical idols, it's refreshing to see Alice out there kicking ass better than he has in years.