Dallas Morning News

Originally Published: August 30, 1997

Carnival Prize

Once props are out of the way, Cooper's still Cooper

Author: Teresa Gubbins

At 49 years old, Alice Cooper - who headlined a magnific metal-rock show at the Dallas Music Complex Friday night - fits into a special place where judging by usual standards seems pointless. Better that you simply appreciate the fact that this over-the-top showman is still rockin', or that for a guy his age, he sure does move around purty good.

If you insist on measuring the show, do it by tallying the props. On this tour they included a casket; a pulpit covered with occult emblems; an upright sarcophagus with a Tutlike gold-and-black striped Egyptian head on the front, done in relief; one of those carnival "Test of Strength" games in which you hit the base with a mallet to ring a bell; a skewer of vivid green oversize dollar bills; and a live boa constrictor.

A carnival is what Mr. Cooper promised, and a carnival's what you got. The show (which, by the way, is promoting his new live disc, A Fistful of Alice) began with two clowns scurried around the stage, looking for something - Mr, Cooper. As the band kicked in, he emerged from the casket enveloped in a massive bank of vapor.

For a time, it was the visuals that dominated. Strings of tiny multicolored bulbs emanated from the stage and into the the hall. Onstage, the background lights were a brilliant soft rainbow of aquas and blues, reds, and greens. Everything was Technicolor bright except for Mr. Cooper himself, an eye-catching contrast in crisp white shirt and pitch-black jacket.

Musically, things didn't really take hold, not during "No More Mr. Nice Guy," not during "Lost In America" (when Mr. Cooper wielded the skewer of dollar bills, often tossing them into the audience), and not during "Only Women," which he dedicated to "all the women in the audience, especially the ones going out with rock musicians."

Finally, during phase 2 - ushered in by a drum solo and Mr. Cooper's re-emergence in a new costume of top hat and maroon velvet jacket from the odd-looking pulpit - the show shifted focus to music, with "Poison" sounding especially lush.

Mr. Cooper, the son of a preacher, didn't linger in the pulpit - despite his recently avowed newfound religious beliefs. His testimonials are all over the Internet. But during the show, he kept them to himself.

It's an odd stroke: Mr. Cooper finding the Lord at the same time that his '90's descendant, Florida band Marilyn Manson, gets concerts cancelled by conservative groups because of its professed fondness for Satan. But that's controversy - and Mr. Cooper's too old for that now.