The Alice Cooper Band raises the dead

Katherine Wilson, Guest Writer

The curtains are up. The meshed crowd of overly zealous adults, sweaty teens, and even a few animated toddlers are cheering, screaming, jumping, pushing, and crying. The audience grows into rage as they chant “ALICE! ALICE! ALICE!” They know it’s only a matter of near hysterical moments before the father of shock rock takes the stage.

A guitar riff follows a smoky noise through the amplifier as Cooper’s silhouette strides awkwardly to center stage. The ear-splitting cries from diehard fans encourage the singer’s fist to shoot up in time with the dropping of the curtain. There he stands, oozing horror and mock contempt as his minions are further energized. Alice may be from the mean streets of Detroit, but even in the capitol of the old south, Richmond, Virginia, Alice is able to hold the audience in the palm of his hand before his first word.

Dressed to kill, in the theatrically literal sense, guitarists Tommy Henricksen, Orianthi Panagaris, Ryan Roxie, drummer Glen Sobel, and bassist Chuck Garric accent the sound crafted design of the show while two tractor trailer’s worth of smoke, lights, props, actors, dolls, and other stage dressing fortify the theatrical aspect. With a brilliant band, riff after riff, chord after chord, beat after beat, the sound intensifies. It’s no surprise that The Alice Cooper Band can keep up with their leader- they have each logged tens of thousands of road miles with this band and many others. They’re remarkable performers.

As Cooper starts belting out Hello, Hurray, the audience can immediately tell that this is going to be every bit the show they dreamed it would be; loving every second, every moment, every scream. With songs like No More Mr. Nice Guy, Hey Stoopid, Welcome to My Nightmare, I’m Eighteen, and Poison rolling on for nearly two hours, it began to feel like the greatest hits set would go on forever.  The band was able to capture the audience in a thrilling nightmare movie-like state that would have sent Dracula crawling back into his hole.

Strangely enough, the life of the party is death. The guillotines, electric chairs, swords, knives, ropes, corpses, monsters, and un-dead crazies traversing the stage have the same effect as any slasher movie- just as much comedic as they are horrific. Only in the case of an Alice Cooper show, it is the soundtrack that accompanies the dead to their giggly end that is responsible for bringing the audience to life. Unlike most musical acts, Alice Cooper is able to entertain not only through the music, but through drama. During his stage performance, Cooper constantly tries to dispatch his band mates, dying twice in the process, once by guillotine, and once by electrocution.

The only smiles given the audience this night come from the band. That is until Alice incorporates a cover song medley from some late great musician friends of his – Jimi Hendrix, John Lennon, Jim Morrison, and Keith Moon (The Who) into the performance. Even Alice steps out of a killer’s persona to perform the classic songs in joyous, honorable and obvious respect.

The show ended with the last chords of School’s Out ringing through the air and more chants of “Alice, Alice, Alice,” just to bring the whole festivity full circle. As everyone shuffled out of the National Theater it would seem as though The Alice Cooper Band’s “Raise the Dead Tour” was everything that everyone could want from the legend – until next time.