Dayton Daily News

Originally Published: July 21, 2006

Alice Isn't 18 Anymore, But We Still Like It

Author: Ron Rollins

Kettering - In a show that included a guillotine, a coffin, a Frankenstein monster, an S&M whip-cracking harpy and, of course, a severed head, one simple prop set Alice Cooper apart from the entire pack of tired old classic-rockers with whom he shares the summer concert trail.

It was a crutch. A single, black crutch that Cooper brandished overhead during the one song, I'm Eighteen, that demanded such a thing. The clever crutch proclaimed: Hey, I know I'm not 18 anymore, but neither are you people in the audience - but don't we all still remember when we were? Don't we wish we could all go back?

Don't we recall the feeling, as Cooper once so perfectly put it himself, of being "stuck in the middle, the middle of life?"

Well, most of the thundering, approving crowd at the Fraze Pavilion on Thursday night were well past the middle of life, and yet they enjoyed seeing and hearing Uncle Alice dredge up the old death-obsessed, heavy-metal sludgefest that once defined his career and their rockin' youth. Surrounded by a smart young band, melodramatic choreography and a pile of special effect left over from about 1977, Cooper managed to take them all back with a smirk, a smile and a big bunch of runny mascara.

Were there times when it was all a bit creepy? Um, yes, especially on the late-show go-to-hell stuff that touched on Cooper's more ghoulish career high-lights - which, by the way, the crowd ate up.

But were there also moments of transcendent cleverness? Absolutely, especially during the great newish song Lost In America, which perfectly captured the jobless-hopeless cycle in which a lot of kids today find themselves, and Guilty, which made the whole audience wonder about themselves and how they affect the world around them. All in all, Cooper proved himself a still-formidable force.

As much as he was obsessed with death and gloom, opening band The Vacation were stuck on sex, as they delved headlong into the nasty, neo-glam '70s revisitation increasingly popular among young bands.