Originally Published: February 15, 1988
Author: Evelyn Erskine
Most performers give concerts which have at least a few boring stretches, no matter how charismatic the person is.
But with the exception of the second Kan Roberts' guitar solo in which flames did not shoot four meter into the air from the neck, Alice Cooper's Sunday night show at the Civic Center had no such lulls.
The concert was like a macabre ride at Disneyland. There was a horrifying visual spectacle waiting at each turn and the turns came quickly.
There as Alice trying to saw his arm off; Alice snuggling up to a live boa constrictor. Alice ripping the limbs off a doll and tossing them into the crowd the way sane performers offer drum sticks.
But this is not only gore and splatter for the fun of it, although that is certainly a part of it. With this tour in particular, Cooper has a mini-crusade going against the Washington Wives. Raise Your Fist and Yell comes from a line in Freedom, an anti-censorship anthem. Regardless of whether the protest is appreciated, the song to be useful as a roof raiser at a concert. It is a sure way to get everyone out of their chairs, with their fists raised and screaming at the top of their lungs.
The Washington Wives can also be credited with providing Cooper with more satirical fodder to play with. An ominous sounding voice at one point in the show sounded eerily like The Supreme Being in a mood to nag: "Aaalice. Think of all those innocent minds you have destroyed…"
With this Cooper proceeds to carve up a few more cadavers. One of them is the Prince of Darkness, an anti-satanic song he must have written just in spite. The prince gets his when he is impaled with a microphone stand with enough blood spewing out to dowse a three alarm fire.
The irony is that the Prince of Darkness is cloaked in white, while it is Cooper who is clad in black leather. Just who is demonic? It is another of Cooper's twists.
This has always been satire. The character Alice Cooper is the old rebellious rock ‘n' roller taken to the berserk extreme. He exists because rock audiences want him. In a way they invented him.
Cooper made it clear. When he skulked behind Gail with the murder weapon he tempts the audience into goading him on. They do. They become accomplices. They applaud when he slits her throat.
But Cooper gets the last say. He executes himself in the end for the crimes the audience has approved throughout the night. That, however, doesn't stop anyone from celebrating the occasion. This is the part the crowd likes best. The 5,000 in attendance shouted madly from the moment they spotted the gallows being rolled on to the stage.
The idea of Cooper not executing himself for the finale of a concert is unthinkable. Like the boa constrictor necklace, it is a trademark they want to see. Other artists have hits they must perform, Cooper has this.
But the crowd is still the same age it was when Cooper began performing 20 years ago. It is a spectacle, if not a blood thirsty instinct, that transcends the generations.
Motorhead opened the show by delivering a perfunctory ear bleed. This was as dispassionate as heavy metal gets given that it is a form of fueled by raw emotion and loud, wild sound. The band made some effort to please by modifying Stone Deaf In America for Ontario, but did little more to keep the audience awake.
When they left the stage, the lights were left down in anticipation of an encore which was evidently in the contract for after several minutes of near silence, the band crept back on stage to deliver more anyway.
That did not come without jibes. All were informed that Montreal was louder. By this time, ultimatums weren't going to work.