Alice Cooper At The Orpheum Theatre
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By Jamie Harvey
I have a very distinct memory of being on a freeway in Houston as a child sometime in the '80s and asking my parents about the Alice Cooper marquee we drove by. "Who is she?," I asked. They told me that it's actually a he, and he was … scary.
Fast-forward a few years and I would grow to understand that Alice Cooper influenced every modern artist I hold dear to my heart. After seeing Cooper perform over the years at various outdoor venues, it felt right to stand inside the classic opulence of downtown Los Angeles' Orpheum Theatre on Nov. 29. Deemed Raise the Dead, Cooper's current tour pays tribute to his Hollywood Vampires friends and influences.
Sparks flew at the beginning of the set with "Hello Hooray" and "House Of Fire." Beyond Cooper being one of the best visual performers, some of his songs are tied to film soundtracks for me. I was reminded of one of my favorite films, 1993's Dazed And Confused, as "No More Mr. Nice Guy" began.
Cooper is credited for introducing horror imagery into heavier music and is considered the King of Shock Rock. While the songs that inspired this title sound almost pop in retrospect, it is very apparent with the configuration of his talented band that hard rock is the mission here. Providing the heavy foundation to the songs I grew up with were guitarists Ryan Roxie, Tommy Henriksen and Orianthi, who created a full, intricate sound, with Chuck Garrick on bass and Glen Sobel on drums.
To say that Cooper's theatrics are legendary is an understatement, but this night was different than times before. While Cooper is usually killed onstage as many times as Kenny dies in "South Park," this time there was a giant coffee cup for "Caffeine," a sword serving as a money kabob for "Billion Dollar Babies," handfuls of beads for "Dirty Diamonds," the infamous boa constrictor during "Devil's Food," and a giant monster Alice Cooper during "Feed My Frankenstein." Even the most hardened heavy metal fans in the crowd were smiling.
As a medley of cover songs by the Doors, the Beatles, the Jimi Hendrix Experience, and the Who began, a fourth guitarist emerged from the side of the stage: Johnny Depp. Depp proved throughout the rest of the set that he is as good a musician as he is actor.
A highlight for me was watching Orianthi play the lead on the Jimi Hendrix Experience's "Foxy Lady." It was empowering to watch a woman pull off a song about attraction to a woman from one of the best male guitarists.
Closing the show with "I'm Eighteen," which featured Depp playing lead, "Under My Wheels," "Poison," and "School's Out," Cooper had the crowd giddy like a bunch of teenagers. Ending in an explosion of streamers and sparks, the night was a true celebration of a legend that seems to get better every time I see him.
"House Of Fire"
"No More Mr. Nice Guy"
"I'll Bite Your Face Off"
"Be My Lover"
"Billion Dollar Babies"
"Welcome To My Nightmare"
"Ballad Of Dwight Fry"
"Go To Hell"
"He's Back (The Man Behind The Mask)"
"Feed My Frankenstein"
"Break On Through (To The Other Side)" (the Doors cover)
"Revolution" (the Beatles cover)
"Foxy Lady" (the Jimi Hendrix Experience cover)
"My Generation" (the Who cover)
"Under My Wheels"
To catch Alice Cooper in a city near you, click here for tour dates.
(Jamie Harvey lives in Los Angeles and is the rock community blogger for GRAMMY.com. She has attended and written about more than 500 shows since 2007. You can follow her musical adventures at www.hardrockchick.com.)