Melody Maker

Originally Published: April 12, 1975

Alice's tasteful Nightmare

Author: Chris Charlesworth

Detroit: The new Alice Cooper Revue, which opened in Chicago last week and moved on to Detroit and Cincinnati, is yet another step forward in the growing close relationship between theatrical choreography and what was once called rock 'n' roll. Cooper, who has not only dropped his old band but also dropped much of the ghoulish trickery that went with it, is treading the same boards as David Bowie with his new tour.

In Detroit on Saturday, where the press were invited to witness the Cooper show for the first time, Alice brought a 15,000 capacity crowd their feet with a stunning display of professionalism. After one encore he left the theatre, but the crowd remained, slapping and hooting, for a further ten minutes. An impressive showing indeed, though one must bear in mind that Cooper, after all, is a native of that city.

The new show is based completely on the recent solo album with its nightmare theme. Only three oldies, "I'm Eighteen", "School's Out" and "No More Mr. Nice Guy" are performed during the show which is devoted to promoting the solo album, and Alice as a solo performer.

The new band, five in all, are barely seen except for one section when the guitarists Dick Wagner and Steve Hunter step-down off the raised podium at the rear of the stage to do battle - literally - with each other during a shared solo. For the remainder of the show they are discreetly out of sight. The musicians: Jozeff Chirowsky (keyboards), Pentti Glan (drums), Prakash John (bass) and the guitarists, play superbly throughout, leaving comparisons with the old Cooper band superflous. As Alice has said himself, he has hired the best and expects the best.

Featured more heavily are four dancers who cavort with Alice in a series of choreographed routines. Especially impressive is Sheryl Goddard who is obviously ballet trained: her solo dance during Alice's rendering of "Only Women Bleed" is the most tasteful display by Alice yet.

The show opens with Alice cocooned in bed welcoming the audience to his nightmare which is acted out by the dancers while he narrates on vocals. Each song is like a different act in a play, but two stand out in particular: the spider sequence and the film sequence.

On the former, a web-like structure, made from strands of rope, is lowered across the stage from a huge rig and two of the dancers dressed as oversized insects with eight arms and legs cavort around a helpless Alice.

The film sequence which took a week of 16 hour-days to rehearse, is even more impressive. A film of Alice lost in a graveyard in shown on to a regular sized screen which is made from several thin pieces of material. The slits between enable Alice and the four dancers to step to and from the movie as real life characters one moment and movie images the next: a phenomena that really has to be seen to be fully appreciated or understood.

The concert wound up on "Department Of Youth," the latest Alice anthem in the "School's Out" and "Elected" mode. It was a signal for the standing audience to join in with Cooper, celebrating his and their inheritance of power. A rousing finale.

The new show is not as macabre as the previous Cooper outings, and for once Alice has displayed a semblence of taste in on-stage activities. One of Cooper's virtues in the past was always the essential tastelessness of his act: hopefully his audience will have grown with him otherwise much of the "nightmare" may go above their heads.

Opening was Suzi Quatro who had something of a triumphant return to Detroit, bringing the audience to its feet with a set that seemed to plod along without much life until the closing minutes. Suzi's basic rock 'n' roll fails in a large auditorium where two thirds of the audience have to strain their eyes to watch her dimimutive figure.