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Originally Published: August 19, 1996
Author: Michele Ramstetter
Alice Cooper brought his aging shock rock act to the Erie County Fair in a late Friday show. The Indigo Girls played folk sounds in a late Friday performance at Artpark. Don Menxa was featured in a afternoon in The Buffalo News Jazz Series.
Alice Cooper, The Scorpions
"Ladies and gentlemen, 10 minutes until Alice Cooper… Ladies and gentlemen, five minutes until Alice Cooper..."
The spirited announcements heard overhead appropriately introduced the bizarre Cooper show Friday in the Erie County Fair Grandstand.
From the droves of hardened bikers to the hundreds of middle-agers wearing Alice Cooper T-shirts, the audience of about 4,000 seemed a bit more eccentric than usual, making the carnival venue ideal.
Opening for the German band the Scorpions, Cooper stole the show with his all-star entourage, which included guitarist Reb Beach and keyboardist Paul Taylor of Winger and drummer Jimmy DeGrasso of Suicidal Tendencies.
Wearing sleek black slacks and a "School's Out" T-shirt the originator of horror rock began his circus by whipping the microphone stand during "Under My Wheels". From his wide-legged stance to his hair style, Cooper looked, acted and sounded as he did during his glory days more than 20 years ago – with some exceptions.
A drawback of not keeping a steady band was evident in "Billion Dollar Babies", in which Cooper was left to sing all parts of the tune originally highlighted by alternating vocals.
And, regardless of how well-preserved Cooper's hits may be in the history of American rock, songs such as "I'm 18" and "No More Mr Nice Guy" have lost their meaning over the years. Cooper undoubtedly realized this: During "I'm 18" he leaned on and played air guitar with a crutch.
Some songs were effective, namely those that used stage theatrics. During "Gutter Cat", three roadies recreated a gang fight scene with band members, while during "Ballad Of Dwight Fry", Cooper pleaded for release after being forced into a straight-jacket.