For Friday the 13th... Alice Cooper

Shock rocker delighted kiddies at the Moody Thursday

And in the end (as the song goes... ) – with balloons, streamers, and confetti filling the Moody Theater – the ringmaster leading 100 minutes of ghoulish Barnum & Bailey spectacle, Alice Cooper, recalled no less that Sir Paul McCartney at the Erwin Center in 2013. That Detroit-born Vincent Damon Furnier, 67, likely identifies as a Lennonite matters not.

Alice Cooper dresses up ACL Live at the Moody Theater, 2.12.15. (Photo by Gary Miller)

Alice Cooper Band 2015: three guitarists, two belt buckles, bass, and drums. And lots of dead babies. (Photo by Gary Miller)

Cooper wouldn’t be the first classic rocker digging out musical influences late in his career. After the grisly guillotine set piece of “The Ballad of Dwight Fry” and “Killer,” both songs from the original Alice Cooper™ Band in 1971, a stage voiceover noted how the band’s head “vampire” had cheated death while so many had not. Then a grim reaper walked out with the first tombstone, Jim Morrison, and Cooper and his backing fivepiece played the Doors’ “Break On Through (To the Other Side”) as if it was 1967 and they’d just dropped acid in the Mekon Delta.

John Lennon (“Revolution”), Jimi Hendrix (“Foxy Lady”), and Keith Moon (“My Generation”) followed in covers faithful but fierce. Few could get away with such a mini set, but by that point, Cooper had already proved himself an entertainer whose career hadn’t ended in 1974. Instead, he also recalled Ringo Starr at the same downtown venue last fall – Beatlesesque.

After all, that hoary near-midpoint of the hangover decade saw the release of Alice Cooper’s Greatest Hits, a bestselling album that like Bob Marley’s Legend can’t summate its singer’s long, rich career, yet does nonetheless in sequencing and core hits. That same year saw the singer exit his Motor City hitmakers – to whom he still pays royalties for the name “Alice Cooper” – so its dozen tracks could well have encapsulated the group’s frontman forever. Thursday at the three-quarters full Moody, Cooper’s most shocking set-piece was his sonic demonstration of an eduring career past those songs and that year of our lord 1974.

And stage props were the name of the game.

To wit: showers of sparks (opener “Hello Hooray”), faux greenbacks and a bandished rapier (“Billion Dollar Babies”), a Honey, I Shrunk the Kids-sized coffee mug (“Caffeine”), a machete-wielding hockey-masked extra abducting a lost girl on “He’s Back (The Man Behind the Mask),” and a DIY Frankenstein set complete with a lightning table and eight-foot modern day Prometheus (“Feed My Frankenstein”). Don’t forget Cooper wrapping a now trademark live boa constrictor around his neck during “Welcome to My Nightmare.”

Even then, it wasn’t the standards that sold the show – “No More Mr. Nice Guy” third, “I’m Eighteen” one tune prior to the encore, and sole walk-off “School’s Out,” co-penned by Cooper. Rather, it was the connective tissue between them, “Weird Al” Yankovic-worthy hits such as “Hey Stoopid” and main set closer “Poison” that hit you with the force of classic rock radio nostalgia whether you liked it or not.

Most of us in the Moody were old enough to have purchased Alice Cooper’s Greatest Hits when it came out, but one 12-year-old singing and iPhone filming “School’s Out” with a look of total joy on her face justified the show in a song amidst the bubbles from a bubble machine. Brilliant, really. Alice Cooper – undead.

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