Originally Published: July 23, 2004

Lovin' Alice Cooper to death

Shock rocker gives loyal fans his fist-pumping classics

Author: Jason Macneil

Molson Amphitheatre, Toronto
Thursday, July 22, 2004

TORONTO -- When I was young, the only episode of The Muppet Show I didn't particularly care for was the one featuring Alice Cooper.

The reason was, well, he scared the hell out of me with his ghoulish looks and black eyeliner.

Nearly 30 years later, he's still looking the same and more popular than ever.

And that should scare the hell out of everyone.

Touring behind his latest album The Eyes Of Alice Cooper, Cooper and his tight four-piece band tore through their roughly 100-minute set last night at the Molson Amphitheatre -- beginning with Hello Hooray.

Rising from behind a wall of guitar amps and clad in black leather, Cooper had the crowd on its feet for most of the night.

When not using a variety of props such as a sword and long cane, the singer was the consummate showman, playing up the crowd that nearly filled all of the seated area.

Knowing what was expected, Cooper's set contained fan pleasers such as No More Mr. Nice Guy and Billion Dollar Babies, both from his Billion Dollar Babies album.

What worked best of all early on though was the pace to the show, with absolutely no breathers and one tune seamlessly sliding into the next classic, fist-pumping rocker.

Guitarists Ryan Roxie and Eric Dover were the engine that drove the band most of the night while bassist Chuck Garric held more than his own on Between High School And Old School.

Cooper, who said absolutely nothing for most of the evening between songs, did drop Toronto into some lyrics on Be My Lover. For the most part though, Cooper, wearing just a tad less eyeliner, worked the crowd by twirling canes and occasionally showing some fine fencing moves.

One obvious problem though with such pacing is that it's bound to stop or hit a wall. The band managed to do both unfortunately. After Halo Of Flies, which featured Cooper pretending to slay a ripoff of Uma Thurman's Kill Bill character, the two guitarists did a guitar solo. This was followed by them lending a hand on drums before the drummer did his proper and inane drum solo.

Not only did it kill the vibe but left some who were standing seated for the rest of the night.

Sick Things kicked off the second half of the set with Cooper again rising from where he did to start the show, only this time with a large snake drapped around his neck.

More of Cooper's props started the second half of the show, including a battle between the singer and three brutes during Gutter Cat Vs. The Jets. This was followed by a punishing Backyard Brawl with the front man whipping the Thurman lookalike off the stage.

What makes Cooper still work though is, aside from his diehard fans, is the music itself. It's hard, fist-pumping classic rock. Nothing more, nothing less.

After a lighter acoustic driven Only Women Bleed, Cooper donned a straight jacket for the once eerie Ballad Of Dwight Fry. But before the night was over, Cooper threw in another handful of songs including School's Out.

Opening the evening were two other classic rockers in Edgar Winter and Foghat. Both 50-minute sets featured classic staples such as Free Ride and Slow Ride from Winter and Foghat, respectively.