One of Our Own: Alice Cooper at Rock the Rapids E-mail
by Jen Pider and Jim Shaneberger

Alice Cooper was a wild success for Rock the Rapids. The thick crowd of Cooper fans came in costume, ready for the theatrics, and they weren't disappointed.

The stage wasn't as flashy as Tuesday's Stone Temple Pilots' show, with their wall of lights behind the stage. Simple dark grey netting was stretched over pipe and drape fixtures and washed with mostly blue and red canned lights. But, who needs a wall of flashy lights when you have a guillotine and a 10-foot tall Frankenstein?

The costuming and choreography bridged the gaps between the music and set design as every song had a unique outfit or prop. From the black Jacket with "New Song" written on the back in white letters, to the blood splattered "Bite Your Face Off" white shirt it was concealing, this show was designed with a flair for detail. Right down to the skull belt buckle and crucifix necklace.

The props were equally impressive. The life-size female doll used in a few songs including "Cold Ethyl" aided in Cooper's ability further express the emotion of the songs. He sat with the doll and caressed her face; then, threw her on the floor and kicked her across the stage for the next number. The event camera man was fascinated with Cooper's lively theatrics, and no other band member could get any jumbotron time.

That was until the guitar opened the song "Clones". The band really seemed like they were enjoying themselves all night, but especially for this number where they donned plastic masks and played as if they were robots.

There were three guitar players on stage, but the parts weren't clear or easily discernable. Still, they made a good attempt at "Feed My Frankenstein", a track which features Joe Satriani, Steve Vai and Nikki Sixx on the recorded version.

When the 10-foot tall Frankenstein came on stage, the crowd went wild. And, when they drew back the blade of the guillotine to chop off Cooper's head, the guy next to me screamed, "No, don't do it!" Completely swept away, he was in his early 20s and had never seen Cooper live.

The show kept its energy level through to the end with more props like large confetti filled balloons that Cooper popped with a sword. The drummer fit right in with his flashy stick tricks. His style was perfect for a straight ahead rock band. The bassist filled in for Cooper, singing lead vocals through costume changes. It was an overall well-casted, smoothly running, theatrical performance with talented and practiced musicians.

Growing up in Detroit, Cooper confessed to being a Lions and Tigers fan. He also admitted he didn't care about the problems found all over the state of Michigan. Still, even after a statement like that, his ability to command an audience was unshakeable, and we were proud to call him one of our own.

Jen Pider is the creator of the Michigan Film Festival. Jim Shaneberger plays bass for Greg Nagy Band and Donald Kinsey. Photos by Paul Jendrasiak.


Published: August 12, 2011

Photos by Paul Jendrasiak:

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