(February 11, 1988)
Originally Published: February 11, 1988
Author: Mark Lepage
What become a legend most?
In the strange case of Alice Cooper, it isn't Blackglama Mink; it's blood - as in buckets. Cooper has released two comeback albums since alcoholism and declining popularity forced him into semi-retirement as a guest on Hollywood Squares, and his newfound lease on death shows no sign of abating.
Last year he haunted the Verdun Auditorium; now, it's the Forum, and even more choreographed mayhem. Alice ostensibly returned because he felt the new breed of shock-rockers weren't up to scratch-and-claw. His horror-comic mentality proved to be just the tonic for at least 9,000 kids who would generally tend to listen to younger bands like Def Leppard and Iron Maiden than an old ghoul like Alice.
The stage was bedecked with severed heads, lanterns and varied splatter-movie trappings, most notably a blood-splattered gallows upon which Alice was hanged for his many trespasses against public decency. What separated this show from almost 20 years of Cooper bloodfests was a crack hard-rock band fronted by muscle-builder Kane Roberts on guitar. Rock 'n' roll in a jugular vein, to cop a line from Mad magazine.
Cooper is the Frank Zappa of gore music when it comes to black humor, and the David Bryne of heavy metal when it comes to choreography. Every slaying, every jet of blood from a goblin's head was timed and went off with virtually no hitches.
The only truly ugly part of the show consisted of the stage theatrics that accompanied the songs form his latest album, Raise Your Fist And Yell. The newer songs lack the gallows humor of earlier material like Cold Ethyl or School's Out, and the stage scene of a prostitute having her throat slashed and lying dead for 10 minutes while the band played on was not only unfunny and uncathartic, but a dumb and stoopid lesson in misogyny for impressionable headbangers.
Motorhead opened the show with a brainshearing show that established them (if there was any question) as the progenitors of speedmetal. Bassist and howler Lemmy, backed by Phillip Campbell and Wurzl on guitars and the aptly named Philthy Animal Taylor on drums, labotomized the audience with chestnuts like Ace of Spades and Killed By Death. Motorhead is always worth hearing, and lifted the crowd with nary a bitter-eyed hobgoblin in sight.