Chart Attack

Originally Published: July 23, 2004

Alice Cooper Slits Throats At The Amphitheatre

Author: Keith Carman

Molson Amphitheatre
Toronto, Ontario
July 22, 2004

Somehow, legendary shock-rocker Alice Cooper always manages to make even the cheesiest of rock ‘n’ roll clichés work in his favour. From transforming tired tricks into trademark elements to tongue-in-cheek self-deprecation, The Coop knows how to work a crowd between his rusty old fingers.

Cooper begins the workout with his songs. The hearty, but not capacity, Amphitheatre crowd was treated to a string of note-perfect hits offset by cultish favourites. It allowed Cooper and crew to satiate the pseudo-familiar fans and us over-analytical geeks at the same time.

Opening his big black songbook and flipping through virtually every page, tracks as far back as Love It To Death (the obligatory "I’m Eighteen" and "Ballad Of Dwight Fry") shared the spotlight with old school delights including "Desperado" and "Halo Of Flies" from Killer, new tracks from latest effort The Eyes Of Alice Cooper and — gasp — "Special Forces" from the obscure 1980 album of the same name. Sweet.

The gimmicks? Well to start, no Alice Cooper show would be complete without some of his infamous bloodletting. He showed his gruesome authority by "slitting" the throat of a Kill Bill costumed blonde and then threw her off the stage. It’s all silly, but fun. Naturally an endless drum solo followed suit, as did the pulling of canes, swords and crutches: various simple props that have all been done a million times before. But, if he didn’t come out for "Ballad Of Dwight Fry" in a straight jacket, we’d be bitching for our money back.

Still, one has to admit that Cooper has drastically cut back on the stage show, which featured nothing but a banner of his face, amplifiers and drums. It was bare-bones when compared to the truckloads of gear Cooper has used in the past. Less equipment meant less choreography on the part of the band and more time to rock out, which they did quite happily, sweating buckets and pandering to the crowd throughout.

Equally impressive was how the band members have been updated. Dropping the tubby, balding 40-something band that accompanied him on last year’s stop at Massey Hall, Cooper’s band are decidedly punk rock for this tour. Fresh and energetic, they bounded about the stage with enthusiasm, playing their hearts out. The Mohican-sporting drummer, anarchy wristband-wearing/leather jacketed guitarist and tattooed bassist were on.

If you missed the evening don’t worry. Unless seeing Cooper draped in a snake during "Sick Things" was high on your list of priorities, rest assured that if he can fit into his leather pants next year, you’ll get your chance.