Alice Cooper – Palace Theatre (Albany, NY)

Alice Cooper Palace TheatreAnyone who thinks show biz isn’t what it used to be hasn’t seen Alice Cooper. Costumes, lights, Goth fairy tales, four killer guitarists and enough energy to start up Frankenstein and still feed back to the grid, this guy’s got audience satisfaction down to a science. Guillotine, Frankenstein/Straightjacket, leather jacket/Tricked-out nurse, things perverse/Giant snake, guitarist beefcake/Massive makeup, colossal coffee cup/Outrageous headgear, trademark sneer/That’s Alice.

Then, of course, there’s the music, and Cooper went through as many hits as his two-hour performance allowed, including “No More Mr. Nice Guy,” “Welcome to My Nightmare,” “Poison,” “School’s Out” and “I’m Eighteen.” One of the many set pieces included huge headstones for fallen idols, and the band went through excellent versions of “Break On Through,” “Revolution,” “Foxy Lady” and “My Generation” with the appropriate RIPs on stage.

The first time I saw Alice Cooper, four decades ago, the then-unknown band opened for the Mothers of Invention, and this skinny individual with long hair, makeup, pajama-like outfit and no props started tearing it up. “Damn,” I remember thinking, “I’ve never seen a chick lead a band this way.” Make no mistake, Alice leads this band, and this guy’s still got it. Offstage for only a few minutes during one or two instrumental solos, Alice Cooper’s energy level was off the charts, despite what had to have been a sweltering stage. I saw no one sit down the entire performance.

Cooper and his band threw swag to the audience throughout the show, from prop canes to money with Alice’s likeness to guitar picks from the band. Though it opened in 1931, in the middle of the Great Depression, the Palace Theatre was undoubtedly conceived when the country was riding high, and is achingly beautiful and enormously ornate, so the contrast between the fake blood onstage and the real gilt surrounding it only added to the surreal atmosphere when, at the end of the show, bubbles, barrels of confetti, bins of shimmering streamers and dozens of huge exercise balls poured down from the lighting rigs high above, Alice Cooper’s closing gift to Albany.

– Suzanne Cadgene

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