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Originally Published: July 31, 1980
Author: Alan Spero
Last Friday's triple-bill at the Coliseum theatre offered variety: something old, something new and something recycled.
The new kid in town was Billy Squier, making his first Cleveland appearance in support of his debut album, THE TALE OF THE TAPE. Although his show suffered from lack of original, arresting material and a mediocre back-up band, Squier's vocal delivery and onstage manner were professional enough to bring the scattered crowd still filtering into the Coliseum to attention. The Zeppelin-istic "You Should Be High, Love" topped off his 40-minute set in fine rock and roll style; it proved Squier a performer to be reckoned with in the near future.
Triumph, on the other hand, had nothing to offer the crowd but battered eardrums and every heavy metal cliche they could rip off and plunder into redundancy. Triumph revolves around the high-speed but aimless guitar pyrotechnics of Rik "Rocket" Emmett, a poor, misguided soul who obviously believes that playing a jumble of stolen guitar riffs as fast as he can will make him the new Eric Clapton of the '80 s. Gil Moore is the resident macho drummer who stalked the stage last Friday in studded jeans and cowboy boots while screaming inarticulately at the crowd. Bassist Mike Levine plodded back and forth from one two chord progression to the next; a task as simple and monotonous as the music.
But regardless of the three hour warrn-up, it was still an evening with Alice Cooper and company. The venerable veteran schoolmaster of shock-rock was in total control form the moment he burst onstage singing "Model Citizen" to the closing chords of his national anthem, "School's Out." Dressed in military uniforms and set against a city skyline, Cooper and his band Hostage Fever, looked ready for urban guerrilla warfare. But it was all rock and roll.
Cooper's new show (like his latest album, FLUSH THE FASHION) was trimmed of all excess, which might have upset true, die-hard Cooper fans waiting for the familiar guillotine execution or his entourage of mutilated mannequins. Cooper appeared as he does on his new album; hair tied back short and brandishing a whip to the beat of each song. Yet, by lessening his theatrics and shifting more emphasis to his new material, Cooper was able to avoid being a mere self-parody of his early years and instead came across fresh and energetic.
To be sure, Cooper still is as deft with dramatic timing as ever. A classic example happened during a transition after "Gutter Cat vs. The Jets" wherein Cooper engaged in a violent knife fight with a female hood. After stabbing her in the stomach, he looked down soulfully at her limp body, licked a few drops of blood from the wound, and proceeded to sing "Only Women Bleed" to the flaccid corpse. A tearjerker. Of course, everybody's favorite boa constrictor, Angel, slithered onstage for another Cooper anthem, "I'm Eighteen." And the finale, "Elected," couldn't have been more appropriately timed to today's current state of political affairs.
The only problem with Cooper's show was that it seemed rushed because of the two opening acts. Cooper swept through 15 songs (six from the new album) without even touching one cut from his classic BILLION DOLLAR BABIES. Surely Alice has released enough material to easily fill up an evening on his own. The only thing the opening acts (and the horrendous hour-long intermissions) did for Alice was deaden the effectiveness of his show.
Even so, Alice had the crowd eating out of his hand. He came running back onstage for the encore of "School's Out" with his long locks untied and hanging down freely and screamed to the audience, "Aren't you glad I didn't cut it?" Posters, banners and lighters were held up high amidst thunderous response. Alice Cooper was still in fashion.