Originally Published: June 12, 1996
The Scorpions headlined the rusty-metal bill at Coca-Cola Starplex Tuesday night, but it's safe to say that a majority of the audience of about 10,000 was there to witness the silly-glorious spectacle of opening act Alice Cooper.
Scorpions fans might disagree; heck, the rock 'n' roll pride of Germany even has a new disk out, "Your Instincts", and the band's computer-controlled light show must've cost a million bucks.
But it's tough to measure up to the sheer show-biz power of Mr. Cooper, despite the fact that he does not have quite the voice he used to, nor a new product to promote. He does have a release scheduled for the fall; his inclusion on this tour is reportedly to get him back in the public eye.
Those Scorpions were a generous lot, with their minimalistic stage consisting of flat silver panels and a bank of lights, but their stereotypical rock poses, with guitarist Rudolf Schenker cocking his head with every high note, came off as flat after Mr. Cooper's Technicolor song-and-dance act.
Backed by an anonymous five-piece band, he used just a few motifs to communicate volumes of subtext and emotion. It's hard to say which was more subtle: during "School's Out", when he released huge balloons filled with confetti which he pierced with a sword? Or the big closer, "Elected", when he came out in blue-sequined tails and a red-white-and-blue top hat, waving a massive American flag, joined onstage by guys wearing Clinton and Dole rubber face masks who shot confetti from guns?
He fulfilled the audience's wishes by doing plenty of big hits -- "Eighteen", "No More Mr. Nice Guy", "Poison", "Regular Even" and "Only Women Bleed" -- but it was "Ballad of Dwight Fry" that provided the corniest-grandest scene of all, when three "hospital interns" in whites bound Mr. Cooper in a straitjacket. In a moment of mock poignancy, he hunched over, his head flailing, straining to sing into a microphone that was lodged in the jacket. And then the denouement, when he finally freed himself from the confines of the straitjacket, sneaked up behind the oh-so-oblivious remaining "intern" and strangled him from behind. "Awright!"