Toronto Star

Originally Published: July 31, 1996

Alice Cooper undiminished

Author: Ira Band

Ol' snake eyes was back last night at the Molson Amphitheatre. So was that gang of heavy metal stingers.

United as co-headliners on one decibel-damaging bill, Alice Cooper and The Scorpions took turns trying to deafen an audience of 7,500 in what had to be the loudest concert of this or any season.

It's been more than 20 years since Alice Cooper ruled the top of the charts with his brand of hard-edged songs and grisly theatrics.

A solo artist since 1975 (the original Alice Cooper was a group of five Detroit musician friends and when the band split, Alice, a.k.a. Vincent Furnier, received the rights to the name), Cooper's career has pretty much been on a downward slide since the last '70s, with one or two exceptions.

Maybe he was being a tad prescient when he called his 1976 album Alice Cooper Goes To Hell. Or perhaps his transition from shock rocker to Hollywood-style shlock rocker proved to be too much of a turn-off.

In any case, Alice was back on stage yesterday evening, his first visit here in a few years, and he was revved up, eager to recreate some of the old energy that marked the earliest incarnation of Alice Cooper.

Years of golf course and regular appearances on the old Hollywood Squares game show haven't dimmed his heavy rocking instincts. Renditions of such '70s songs as "No More Mr. Nice Guy," "Welcome To My Nightmare," "Cold Ethyl" and "School's Out" offered not only a razor-sharp attack from Cooper's five-man band, but Alice's trademark guttural snarl as well, undiminished after all these years.

Although his budget for outlandish garish theatrics is fractional compared to his early '70s productions (there were no guillotines, boa constrictors or razzle-dazzle lightning), and he's wearing less ghoulish eye make-up today (at one time he must have been Max Factor's worst nightmare), Cooper couldn't help but indulge a bit.

There was a playful mock street fight on "Gutter Cats," a song straight out of West Side Story. And on "Elected," a top-hatted sequinned Alice appeared on stage dressed in American stars and stripes, striking with a pair of walking sticks a pair of characters wearing Clinton and Dole masks. All of which proved that sometimes, even the ghouls just want to have fun.

German quintet The Scorpions closed the three-hour concert with a raucous assualt of pounding rhythms, screaming guitars and flashing lights.

While such thunder-crunching songs as "Tease Me, Please Me," "Bad Boys Running Wild" and "Big City Nights" served as a satisfying heavy-metal fix for the responsive crowd, the band's epic, anthemic ballads, namely "Holiday" and "Wind Of Change," earned the group the loudest cheers of the night.