Toronto Star

Originally Published: July 23, 2004

Ol' Alice goth cred with young crowd

Author: Vit Wagner

There was a time when a triple bill headlined by Alice Cooper and also featuring Edgar Winter and Foghat would have been hailed as one of the boffo rock events of the summer.

That time was 1974.

While it would be stretching things to suggest that last night's appearance by that very troika before a large and enthusiastic crowd at the Molson Amphitheatre entirely closed the gap between the intervening three decades, it wasn't simply a nostalgia-fest for geezers either.

Cooper's reputation as a shock-rock pioneer clearly holds a considerable cachet with younger fans, many of whom displayed their gothic allegiance by applying heavy doses of eyeliner or sporting Marilyn Manson T-shirts.

When the 56-year-old singer/celebrity golfer started screaming "I'm 18 and I don't know what I want" from his well-worn anthem of adolescent disaffection, the chorus was echoed by legions of audience members who looked like they might actually be 18 or even younger.

It didn't hurt, either, that Cooper's four energetic accompanists were far closer to that age than his own. If they didn't exactly carry the show — after all, it's hard to upstage a guy who pretends to slit the throat of his own daughter onstage — they certainly provided a credible, hard-driving score for Cooper's cartoonishly ghoulish antics.

Beginning with "Hello Hurray," the band set a relentless pace, ripping through blistering renditions of "No More Mr. Nice Guy," "Billion Dollar Babies," "Muscle Of Love" and other standards. It took all of about 15 minutes to knock off the first six songs — the same number of tunes that the opening acts had played during their entire sets lasting roughly 45 minutes apiece.

Winter, a year older than Cooper but also backed by a noticeably younger supporting cast, launched the night with a jam-filled set steeped in his hard-driving brand of blues-flavoured rock. Switching between the keyboard and the saxophone, he leaned on extended versions of "Free Ride" and "Frankenstein," both from his 1972 commercial breakthrough, They Only Come Out At Night.

The finale, a rendition of John D. Loudermilk's "Tobacco Road" that Winter dedicated to his guitarist/brother Johnny, produced a cameo appearance by Toto's Steve Lukather, who ended up duelling with the regular guitarist Doug Rappaport.

Foghat, soldiering on after the death a couple of years back of longtime frontman and driving creative force Lonesome Dave Peverett, had no youthful reserves to draw upon. Drummer Roger Earl and bassist Tony Stevens, who along with Peverett split from British blues greats Savoy Brown in 1971, are now bolstered by guitarist Bryan Bassett, who has served time with Wild Cherry and Molly Hatchet, and singer/guitarist Charlie Huhn, a former supporting member in Ted Nugent's cast.

The sound, as they mixed older favourites "Drivin' Wheel" and "Slow Ride" with new material, had plenty of anthemic muscle, but missed the richer, bluesy textures of old.