Montreal Gazette

Originally Published: September 05, 1972

Alice Cooper at Forum: a big boa

Author: Bill Mann

Our story picks up sometime early Monday morning: The truck carrying all of the sound equipment for last night's Alice Cooper-Dr. John Rock Show at the Forum overturns on the highway near Rochester, New York.

Later that morning: Sound truck turned back upright, speeds toward Montreal in heavy Labor-day traffic.

Well, the equipment made it here, all right. That that three-hour traffic jam at the border at 5:00 didn't help.

At 9:00, an hour late, Dr. John's band, the Wang Dang Doodle Orchestra, went on - with the public-address system, ??? the regular sound equipment arrived from Rochester.

With the makeshift sound system, the Wang Dang Doodle Orchestra sounded pretty bad.

"This is the first show of mine that's been late in two years," promoter Don Tarlton kept repeating backstage for anyone who would listen.

"It won't happen again."

Ironically, it was that same Wang Dang band that played here exactly one year to the day yesterday. It was then known as Friends and Neighbors, and was backing up Alex Taylor. The Allman Brothers headlined that bill at Expo's Place des Nations, incidentally.

The huge crowd, however (and luckily) was in a festive mood last night, and hadn't minded the hour's delay. Announcer Ronnie Legge kept the 16,000-plus kids posted on the Canada-Russia hockey score.

"The biggest crowd of the year except for the Stones," Tarlton kept repeating to no one in particular. "And the kids have been great in a tough situation."

At 9:50, exeunt the band.

At 10:25, two hours late, Dr. John The Night Tripper himself hits the stage, throwing spangles to the audience. Dr. John, wearing a variegated, plumed hat and sparking beard, got the crowd to boogie immediately.

Dr. John (aka Mac Rebennack) is a superb piano player whose subtle virtuosity is completely wasted in a big arena. So, Dr. John played a lot of lead guitar, which he is only fair-to-middlin' at.

The Doctor, whose croaking voice makes lyrics indecipherable, did a tight set climaxed by the Howlin' Wolf piece. Wang Dang Do.

His New Awlans rhythms are definitely irresistible, but his piano playing is just too good to downplay.

As it was, his sound just dispersed in the capacious Forum. But, as always, The Doctor brought out the fron in us all.

At 10:40, Alice Cooper arrives backstage and immediately becomes engrossed in the aforementioned hockey game on a nearby TV. Cooper, the pseudotransvestite, had a large welcoming committee: many of Montreal's gay elite were hovering near the stage doors. Cooper, wearing black hiphuggers that didn't (they flared down to mid-buttock), was more interested in the game, however.

At 11:10, Dr. John finished his set. Legge announced the final score, adn the biggest roar of the night went up.

Finally, at 11:50, Cooper hit the stage, with all of the attendant bubbles, smoke, and other extrania that he produces. Cooper, who hangs himself on stage and cuddles up to a boa constrictor, diverts the audience's attention away from one important thing: the music.

None of it is very good: the rock or theatre.

There were 16,000 living testimonials to the wisdom of P.T. Barnum in the Forum that night.