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Originally Published: December 28, 1999
Rock 'n Roll may never die but some of its practitioners do grow old. That's not stopping Alice Cooper and Ted Nugent. The two lelgendary rockers are 48. They sold out the Sports Arena last night as they probably would have done 20 years ago in their prime.
The event dubbed "The Whiplash Bash" by promoters gave some Toledo-area parents a rare opportunity to spend a Saturday night with their teenage children. Both generations suffered hearing loss last night.
In Cooper's case, the crowd was not just attending a concert but observing a local holiday. Unbeknownst to most, Mayor Carty Finkbeiner issued a proclamation last week declaring yesterday "Alice Cooper Day" in Toledo. Rarely do mayors bestow such honors on people known for chopping up baby dolls with butcher knives. But Mr. Finkbeiner wanted to make amends for the misbehavior of Toledo concert-goers at a Cooper show 23 years ago. A rabid Sports Arena crowd on that 1973 evening pelted the rock star with a variety of projectiles. Then someone threw an exploding device on stage, shattering a light, injuring a guitarist, and provoking Cooper to call it a night.
As if that wasn't enough, fans angry about the show's abrupt halt started a small riot in the parking lot, chucking rocks, bricks, and bottles at police. The whole affair did not exactly endear Toledo to Cooper.
The fans behaved much better last night. During his 90-minute performance, Cooper, for the most part, did without the theatrics that made him famous. Confined to a small stage, he relied on his well-worn and hard-driving songs.
His song list looked like a greatest hits collection, featuring such anthems as "I'm Eighteen", "Lost in America", "Billion $ Babies", and "Welcome to my Nightmare".
Nugent showed up with a lean, three-man lineup. He immediately whipped the crowd into a frenzy by opening with a thundering cover of Jimi Hendrix' "Purple Haze". Even at 48, Nugent does not mind doing the heavy lifting, handling the double duties of lead guitar and lead vocals with aplomb.
But his performance settled into monotony. The small band seldom strayed from a same-sounding pounding of bass, guitar, and drums. Not even the Nugent classic "Cat Scratch Fever" could jolt the band out of its rut. Nugent had trouble following Cooper, who can entertain an audience with humorous lyrics and catchy guitar hooks.
The two rockers stopped in Toledo as part of Nugent's annual, year-end swing through the region. They will play in Kalamazooo and Saginaw, before they go to Detroit for a New Year's Eve show in Joe Louis Arena.