Originally Published: July 29, 1989
An Indian art store in Scottsdale, Arizona owned by shock-horror rocker Alice Cooper is hit by a fire bomb thrown through a rear window by an unknown vandel on July 27. Over $200,000 worth of native American artefacts are destroyed, as are some of Cooper's gold records, stored at the rear of the emporium.
Cooper declares the biggest loss to be $75,000 worth of Hopi Indian dolls, and tries to explain the attack by saying: "Maybe it was some disco-music freak. I've been making some positive anti-disco remarks lately."
The walking dead are here. Legions draped in black, the torn Cooper visage on almost every chest. Aisles full of infamous trash bags. Dirty grey clones wandering listlessly around the bar.
For every theatric that Alice chose to drop from this show, read all, the Romero body bag lookalikes more than made up for it with their air of shambling decay and instilling rot.
Though, when 'Billion Dollar Babies' rattles it's filthy mane into life, they transform. Huge rags, dusty blankets shook into life. Writhing, punching, clouds of chalk white floating up and around them.
Alice has the look of male violent evil that just happens to have seen this all before. Mass possession comes as second nature, insightment to riot nothing too out of hand. That's why he sucker punches the front row with '18' and barely a perceptible flicker of emotion or respite crosses his face.
The Mutant Deadheads have now flipped and formed their own gang called the Crazies. The heavy eye makeup mingles with sweat somewhere around their necks. The pale dust faces broken by disfigured grins. Real crazy.
The band, who, for a bunch of faceless musos that Alice chose to pluck from relative obscurity, aren't doing too bad. It's all hair, torsos and frantic, primitive head smacking. Alice stands amongst them, the calm in the furry. The familiar grave stare as his world tilts dangerously around him.
Then he carelessly casts 'Under My Wheels' out in front of him. The Pack, the Crazies and all the in-betweens ravage it. Getting the flesh between the teeth and shaking bloody blue murder. Guttural and animal and quite magnificent.
Of course, when he thumbs idly over 'School's Out' the first few bodies start dropping. Someone explodes to my left and Alice faces splinter and bleed. It's like a snuff movie set to music. Stripped down it's much more terrifying a spectacle, just like getting a good eye full of how 'Friday the 13th''s Jason looks behind the mask.
Without his bloody throats, his seminal lynching, his gory fate at the hand of Madame Guillotine, without his spleen theatre and grisly overview, Alice is, oddly enough, at his best. His strength is this simplicity. As Zell dryly observed, at his cluttered arena shows, people tend to just wait and see what mind boggling illusion is next. As opposed to relishing one of the strongest back catalogs in rock'n'roll.
Simply, this was all music and nothing more. It's undeniably true that the newer material, which was embraced warmly, needs a blood smeared hatchet to hold onto so to speak.
Though I'm convinced the way 'No More Mr. Nice Guy' rushed from the small PA and caused me a nose bleed, he can play it anywhere in the world lit only with a 50 watt lamp and accompanied by nothing more than a battered Fender and it would work.
He broke the final bone with a "See you at Wembley", and scurried away as High Lord Of The Tombstones with the dead shrieking in his wake and the cold light of day still over eight hours away...