Overrock - August 1975

(August 1975)

Originally Published: August 1975

Alice Cooper: A Nightmare On Tour

Author: Palaemona Mörner

Suzi Quatro is supposed to warm all of us 20,000 people inside Madison Square Garden, who are really just waiting for Alice Cooper. She is a tiny girl, and I almost get worried for her. What if we can't hear her well enough!

But my worries are in vain, because Suzi is more than tough enough. She's so tough, that she seems like she's stuck in her own attitude. She looks like she's repeatedly biting into a very sour apple. The music's tediously blaring out of the giant speakers, and it's all getting a bit boring.

"Do you wanna rock and roll?" she screams. "Do you wanna? New York, answer me! Do you wanna rock and roll?"

"Yeah, yeah," we scream a bit semi-engaged and she begins "I keep on knockin' (but I can't come in)". It sounded better in the 50's.

Then there's break, all the house lights come up and we're looking around at the audience. A girl, who is painted and dressed in a jumpsuit with holes like Alice Cooper has, walks up to me.

"You're with the press, right? You can go backstage, right?" I tell her she's right. She hands me a letter, adressed to Alice and asks me, please, please to give it to him. I promise to try to give it to someone that can give it to him.

"Oh, wow!" She jumps up and down and is clapping her hands as she's off to her Alice Cooper-masked friends.

The lights go out, the speakers are thundering:

"Ladies and Gentlemen: The Legendary Alice Cooper!!"

Around me people are already getting hysteric before the legend has even appeared on stage. The smell of grass is coming towards us in waves. Everybody is standing up, can't see anything, stands on the folding chairs and still can't see anything. Yeah, now there he is. The roar ascends towards the ceiling, fills out the huge arena.

"Welcome To My Nightmare!" Alice sings the opening lines from the title song of the album with the same name. This is the first time people are paying to get to be inside a nightmare.

And The Nightmare is in fact a big investment by Cooper and Warner Bros. It is Alice's first product as a solo artist. Together with Bob Ezrin (who is known to turn everything he touches into gold), he has put together a new backing band, significantly more anonymous than the last one.

Dick Wagner plays the guitar and has, together with Alan Gordon and Alice, composed some of the songs on the new LP. Steve Hunter also plays the guitar, Pentti Glan, who is born in Finland, plays the drums, Prakash John plays the bass, and Jozef Chirowsky plays the piano. All have the fact in common, that they were "discovered" by Bob Ezrin. All besides Jozef have played behind Lou Reed on both records and tours.

In January this year the album "Welcome to My Nighmare" was recorded for the price of 200,000 dollars. Business is business, so at the same time of the release an ABC TV-show was planned. Alice made himself ready for this 60-city world tour. It started in Chicago, April 1st and is supposed to go on for eight months and cash in somewhere around 6 million dollars (multiply by 4,5). We're talking Real American Showbiz a la Hollywood with an Alice, who is aiming for the TV-stars and otherwise mostly plays golf.

On stage a snake, some bats and a medicine man is dancing around Alice. They enter the stage through two green see-through towers and a big box, which has "Toys" written on it.

"Welcome to my nightmare", sings Alice. "Welcome to my breakdown!"

The creatures attack him, jump around and disappear smoothly into the big box.

At this point we have sat ourselves down, because now we don't need to do anything else. Only sit and watch until we're satisfied by the spectacle up there on stage. Old "No More Mr Nice Guy" and "Billion Dollar Babies" show up as reminders of the six gold albums Alice has sold so far. Suddenly the stage lights dim. Alice sits on the floor and sings feebly: "I'm a little boy – no, I'm a great big man..." and the dancers jump out of the box, now dressed in black bodysuits with phlorescent skeleton pattern painted on. They pick him up and dump him in the box and dance for a while to "Years Ago".

This is nothing but an honest all-out American show with all the glitter and glamour that belongs. That the audience is made of grass-smoking rock fans and not cocktail-mixing Sinatra lovers doesn't mean a thing. The main thing is that they get their show served upon golden plates.

Then the skeletons disappear into the box and Alice returns singing "Some Folks" dressed in white top hat and tails. He then tears off the hat and rips open his collar, and then picks up a life sized ragdoll with blond hair that has been lying in the middle of the stage. The melody changes into "Cold Ethyl", who he loves despite of her being so cold:

"She's cold in bed. She oughta to be, cuz Ethyl's dead..."

He then thoroughly mistreats the doll and finally tosses her onto the bed, where she gets to lie under all the scary faces that stare from the bedposts.

The stage goes dark and when the lights go up again the doll has come to life and has become a real living blond in a pink leotard. She too, seems to be the kind of woman you misuse if you're to believe the lyrics of "Only Women Bleed":

" Man's got his woman to take his seed He's got the power Oh, she's got the need She spends her life through pleasing up her man She feeds him dinner or anything she can She cries alone at night too often He smokes and drinks and don't come home at all Only Women Bleed, etc..."

And while he's singing this poetic passage he takes his chance to beat her up on the bed. She's smiling and is pretty of course, and that apparently has good effect on Alice, because at the end he lies down in the bed with her and it goes dark and everybody roars.

The bed disappears and a huge spider web made of thick ropes is elevated on the stage. Two nasty spiders with glimmering black bodies are dancing with each other. They climb the net and Alice enters singing "Devil's Food". The voice of actor Vincent Price is telling us how terribly dangerous she is, The Black Widow.

Now the spiders throw themselves over Alice. He fights them bravely all the while singing "The Black Widow". We're pushed to feel anger and fear, but we're too exhausted from all we've witnessed to be bothered to react, even though our hero is in imminent danger.

But like in a medieval fairy tale Alice manages to turn everything around. He over powers The Black Widow, tears off her spider suit, and there she lies so fair and beautiful: the blond, pink princess.

Unfortunately I get no time to relax in the sight of romance because I'm roughly pushed aside by two very real cops. They throw themselves over a guy, who has hidden between the photographer's legs. He has no chance to rise to his feet and is picked up firmly by his hands and feet, and carried away. Look, now that's violence in real life.

Alice is still in a tight spot on stage. He has hardly had time to save the princess from the spiders stomach before a beast, twice as large as Alice himself, comes stamping onstage. Dressed in a longhaired fur suit, it has one large shining eye and a unicorn horn in the forehead.

Alice sings "Steven" and carelessly throws himself into the arms of the beast to tackle it and save himself and his beloved.

"I must be dreaming", he screams and actually manages to cut the head of the beast, which then staggers around, without a head. Smoke rolls in and it is starting to feel like being at the frontline of an imaginary nightmare war. Smoke, more smoke! Alice is standing in the bed in the middle of the fog with the beast's awful head in his hand, screaming:

"Welcome to My Nightmare!"

The bed is retracted and disappears. A screen comes up through the floor and upon it a picture of a sleeping Alice is projected. Then you see him rise from his own still body.

"The Awakening" has begun; Alice walks off into his own nightmare. He arrives at a graveyard where he sees his own tombstone. He becomes very angry and with a big effort demolishes it.

He has hardly finished that before terrible, silver glimmering "martians" appears out of nowhere and attack him. They overpower him after a while and put him into a coffin. Alice jumps out of the coffin, through the screen and out to us in reality. The martians follow and "Escape" begins:

"Just get me out of here", Alice begs.

Finally he's caught and carried off. Bats are seen flying on the movie screen and I'm getting an ominous feeling of having them around me. Brr! Hoarse cries ring from the audience.

The lights come up and Alice enters in a white football jersey and sings "School's Out" and it feels good. Then he runs off, we're clapping for a while and he returns again for the encore: "The Department of Youth". Everyone's standing up, screaming with joy when he proclaims:

"We've got the POWER! We've got the power!"

Then it's all over, because all the dancers – both the good and the bad ones – come out and takes a bow. The blonde looks happy even though she got treated so badly.

"Thank you very much, New York!" Alice disappears and the house lights come up and it's over, irrevocably over.

A little battered and half deaf we stumble through the stone corridors of Madison Square Garden.

"Were you scared?" someone asked.

"No, Billion Dollar Baby was worse", someone else replies.

"Oh boy!" Says a third one.