Alice Cooper points his microphone toward the
audience during his July 9 gig at the Island Resort
and Casino in Harris.
By STEVE SEYMOUR
After four decades in the business, Alice Cooper is telling his own iconic story in the spectacular "Theatre of Death" show.
Cooper brought his fresh concert program to the Upper Peninsula for three shows at the Island Resort & Casino in Harris last weekend.
The 62-year-old Cooper has been attracting fans since his band unleashed "I'm Eighteen" back in 1971.
Besides the seven long-players released by the Alice Cooper band, Cooper has issued 18 studio albums as a solo artist.
Fans have come to expect bizarre stage antics from Cooper, the first person to combine movie-like horror imagery with rock music.
He's been perfecting his brand of shock-rock since the early 1970s.
Still, Cooper is a born again Christian and a political conservative, but refuses to mix those topics with his music.
He beat alcoholism decades ago and helps fellow rockers with addiction, if they seek his help.
The various phases of Cooper's career provide the fodder for his stage show which presents an array of lights, props, costumes and of course, music.
Tiffany Lowe is also prominent in the production as a dancer, actor and singer.
Cooper credited director and long-time fan Robert Jess Roth with the "Theatre of Death" concept.
Song lyrics tell Cooper's story in four segments, with each version of Alice being killed so a new Alice can emerge.
Before the show, the stage was highlighted by a giant depiction of Cooper on a tapestry designed especially for the tour.
As my wife Sue and I settled into our seats for the July 9 gig, the "Theatre of Death" logo dropped as Cooper opened the show with "School's Out."
Cooper belted out an abbreviated version of the anthem, a Top Ten hit from the summer of 1972, as the audience sang along and snapped pictures on their cellphones.
He followed with "Eighteen," the breakout hit from the era when Alice Cooper was the name of the band, not just the lead singer.
The vocalist used a crutch made of bones as a prop during the song.
Posing as a delinquent, Cooper sang "Wicked Young Man" bound in a straitjacket, and was brought to his end at a guillotine during "Ballad of Dwight Fry."
"Poison," Cooper's Top Ten from 1989, continued the segment, while Cooper received a lethal injection from the nurse as "From the Inside" ended.
Cooper delivered "Nurse Rozetta" from a wheelchair, which preceded "Be My Lover," another hit from 1972.
Next, the band slowed the pace for two songs.
Cooper's plea against domestic violence, "Only Women Bleed," was performed as the murdered Rozetta lay across his lap.
The singer was left hanging from the gallows at the conclusion of "I Never Cry," a smash hit from 1976.
An instrumental titled "Black Widow" followed, allowing the band to get some spotlight time in Cooper's temporary absence.
Cooper performed "Vengeance Is Mine" from an elevated platform and tossed necklaces into the crowd during "Dirty Diamonds."
The singer illustrated 1973's "Billion Dollar Babies" by waving a saber spiked with bogus $100 bills picturing Cooper's portrait.
At the end of "Killer," Cooper was dispatched in an iron maiden, a medieval torture device.
An excerpt from "I Love the Dead" followed while Cooper returned for "Feed My Frankenstein," which included a walk-on by an eight-foot-tall Cyclopes.
Cooper returned for an encore dressed as flag-waving Uncle Sam to deliver "Elected" and a reprise of "School's Out" to bring the concert full circle.
All told, Cooper packed 24 songs into a riveting, if ghoulish, 90-minute set.
The crowd, of course, loved it.
Cooper's fans have always wanted an over-the-top theatrical show and the veteran rocker didn't disappoint.
The audience ranged in age from youngsters to people approaching retirement, many wearing Alice Cooper T-shirts.
Michael Latterman of Manistique planned to see all three local shows, including one on his 19th birthday. "This will make singing 'I'm Eighteen' a little weird," he said.
The show may have been the most elaborate production Sue and I had ever seen at the Harris venue.
Born in Detroit as Vincent Furnier, Cooper is known for more than his fright-filled concerts.
He's an occasional actor and hosts a nationally-syndicated classic rock radio program, "Nights With Alice Cooper," broadcast on WIMK-FM in Iron Mountain.
When he's not performing, golf is one of Cooper's favorite pastimes.
He even wrote an autobiography, "Alice Cooper, Golf Monster," explaining how the sport helped him overcome an addiction to alcohol.