Originally Published: 1989
Author: Maribeth Bruno
Alice Cooper, The Front
San Antonio, Texas
Walking into this place during the Front's third song is tike stepping into their first MTV video: the stained glass is glowing, the band are gyrating, and there's no audience in sight. Okay, I'm exaggerating: there are people in the building, but everyone's butts are firmly packed on their comfy chairs. Vocalist Michael Franano is not happy with this state of affairs. 'Make some f**king NOISE, people!" he exclaims at regular intervals. And it's a show worth making some noise for. With only a few glitches the band pull off a heavy, raunchy performance of gutsy tunes like 'Sweet Addiction', 'Violent World' and a fantastic cover of 'Sunshine Of Your Love'. The tone of this classic Cream song becomes a bit more, shall we say, urgent in the sweaty hands of this Cult and Doors-inspired quintet.
More and more spectators decide to get up and get involved as the show goes on, but we still haven't created enough of a spark for Franano, not even when roused by 'Fire', so the band decide to play dirty.
"Ya know, there's an interesting thing about opening acts like us: until we stop playing, Alice can't come on. So until you get off your asses, we're not gonna stop!" This works, getting the Cooper fans screaming their support for this little upstart band they've probably never heard of. Heck, it almost looks like a rock concert's going on!
But when the lights go down and the opening bars of 'Hello Hooray' reach our ears, there's no doubt this crowd came to party. A huge garbage can gives birth to our Alice, and the visuals are great - he's got bright red trousers, black leather jacket, Sacred Heart T-shirt (the good religious symbol, not the bad Dio album) and, oh baby, a riding crop.
Even nasty feedback and too-low vocals don't bring the fans down. They're with him all the way - grabbing paper money Off a sword during 'Billion Dollar Babies', belting out 'Eighteen!' during you-know-which-song, and generally treating Alice like (ye gods!) a sex symbol.
This is the first time I've had the pleasure of seeing the theatrical Alice, and it's really a treat. I won't bore you die-hards with a full description — let's just say that everything's there; make-up, evil nurse, tortured souls for scenery and lotsa blood. Great stuff, though the feminist side of me is a bit disturbed by the 'joy' of killing women that appears to be the philosophy of the 'Nightmare' era. and I'm glad to see the maniac finally get the guillotine.
But then it's back to the suitable-for-radio-airplay material. The intro to favourite 'Poison' is almost Sabbath-like as interpreted by Alice's brand new band - not a bad twist! The bloodthirsty crowd are in a frenzy by now and Alice sails through the show's second half with the greatest of ease, dispensing lingerie during 'Bed Of Nails' and odd-shaped giant balloons for show-stopper 'School's Out'.
We've been blinded by the guy's sheer staying power long before the huge lit-up A-L-I-C-E sign drops, long before encore 'Under My Wheels', long before Alice makes his goodbyes with the words, "No matter what anyone says, you're all trash!"
You know it. And Alice finally got us to the incinerator tonight.