May 17, 2010
Knoxville Memorial Coliseum
Written by James Downing
When I was 14 years old I was listening to the music of The Partridge Family, Bobby Sherman, The Osmonds and all of the other “Bubblegum Music” of that era. I thought this music was so cool. Little did I know I had no idea what cool was.
I remember sitting in study hall reading a teen magazine and a friend came up and thumbed through it.
He asked me a question that would change the way I looked at music for the rest of my life. He said, “Have you ever listened to Alice Cooper?”
Of course my response was “Who is she?” He laughed and said it was a guy.
So upon my next trip with my mom to Green Hills I asked if I could go in Sgt Peppers record store. I went in and asked where the Alice Cooper records were. The clerk pointed me towards the “C” section and I was surprised at what I saw. It was bright red in color with a big snake on the cover.
I plopped down the money for this record and as soon as we got home, I went to my room and opened the record. There was a big fold out calender in the album of this guy being hung by a rope. Was this Alice? Why was this guy being hung?
What was this all about? I put the record on the turntable and from the first notes of the first song, “Under My Wheels,” I was hooked. I waited for each album to come out and went from reading Tiger Beat to Circus and Cream magazines. I became a bigger fan with each album, “Billion Dollar Babies,” “Schools Out,” “Welcome To My Nightmare,” and all the others.
Alice Cooper and Rob Zombie teamed up for a series of shows billed as “The Gruesome Twosome Tour.” Checking the dates I found out that the closest stop the tour was making to Nashville was Knoxville. That was close enough for me. Being a huge Cooper fan, and my son loving Rob Zombie, I thought this would be a good show for us to check out together and have a good father and son road trip.
Zombie and Cooper would headline the shows on different nights on this tour and the night of the Knoxville show it was Rob’s night to headline. I was afraid Alice’s show would be cut short because of this but he played almost a full hour and a half so there wasn’t too much cut out. Alice’s part of the show was called, “The Theater Of Death” and carried the phrase, “They keep killing him and he keeps coming back.”
The lights went out in Memorial Coliseum around 7:45pm and the packed floor was already on their feet and screaming loud! A huge red curtain with a drawing of Alice Cooper in full make-up hung in front of the stage. I was really surprised when I heard the opening notes of the first song, “School’s Out.” This was usually saved for an encore, but on this night it was getting the show off to an awesome start. The curtain falls and there he is. The Master Of Shock Rock, ALICE COOPER!!!
Stage hands dressed as henchmen brought out the huge balloons filled with confetti and tossed them out in the crowd. When a member of the audience would hit or punch the balloon it would burst confetti everywhere. This is something Alice has had in his act from back in the 70′s. I loved it! With out pausing for a second, the band broke into a song from the Billion Dollar Babies album, “No More Mr. Nice Guy.”
“I used to be such a sweet sweet thing…..”
The Coop sang and thousands of fists were in the air keeping the beat. Alice walked to the back of the stage and came back walking with a crutch that was made out of bones. This meant just one thing, “Eighteen.”
The is the very first song that became a hit for Alice and his band in the early 70′s. Alice then did a fast forward to the
year 2000 and performed a song from Brutal Planet, “Wicked Young Man.” During this song Alice takes a metal pole and thrusts it through one of the stage hands.
The henchmen come out and put him in a strait-jacket and from the center of the stage, while down on his knees, he sang one of my favorite live Cooper songs, “The Ballad Of Dwight Fry.” While Alice is singing “I gotta get out of here”, the henchmen bring out the guillotine and beheaded him. I love this part of the show. It has always been my favorite.
Well, you can’t keep a good man down and Alice returned, head intact, and goes into “Go To Hell” followed by “Guilty” and another personal favorite “Cold Ethyl.” When the audience heard the next offering, they went crazy. It was one of Alice’s biggest hits, “Poison,” from the “Trash” album.
Alice did an album based on his stay in a rehab center in the late 70′s and the title track from that album was next. There was a character in that album named Nurse Rozetta. She is usually played by Alice’s daughter, Calico Cooper. For this tour the nurse was played by Tiffany Lowe because Calico was filming a pilot for a TV show. Nurse Rozetta pushed Alice out on stage in a wheel chair. He is wearing a hospital top and pants. I noticed on the shirt it said “Renfeld Nelson.” I did a little reserch on this name because I knew that Renfield was the name of the character that Dwight Frye played in “Dracula.” I found out that Alice’s personal assistant of almost 30 years was named Brian Nelson and Alice would call him Renfield, so I am guessing this is Alice’s tribute to him.
As the nurse “tends” to Alice he continues with the song “Nurse Rozetta,” only to have her bring out a huge hypodermic syringe and injected him with a green glowing serum. A large white screen is brought out on stage and as Alice sings “Be My Lover.” We see the silhouette of Nurse Rozetta performing a sexy dance behind the screen. Alice returns from the injection and by the end of song he steps behind the screen to strangle her. With her lying limp in his lap he sings “Only Women Bleed” to her. Alice continues the show with, “I Never Cry” while the henchmen come out again with the gallows. They lead Alice to them and slip the noose around his neck and before he can get out the last word of the song they pull the lever and hang him. The gallows are pushed off stage as the band breaks into an instrumental version of “The Black Widow.”
Once again our hero survives death and returns to the stage singing, “Vengeance Is Mine” from atop a huge black staircase. As Alice walks down the stairs, the band plays the title track from “Dirty Diamonds.” This is followed by “Billion Dollar Babies,” as Alice struts around the edge of the stage throwing out dollar bills with his picture on it. A medley of “Killer” and “I Love The Dead” is played as they put Alice in a box of spikes. When the box is slammed shut blood squirts out over the stage and the people in the front of the stage.
We had met Alice at his hotel earlier in the day and he said the right side of the stage gets the most blood flow. Guess what side of the stage we were on? HA!!!
They keep killing him and he keeps coming back is the slogan of the tour and once again Alice Cooper survives death and comes out in a silver suit with an American flag singing another one of his hits, “Elected.” Alice then closed the show with “Under My Wheels.” During this song he introduced the band members, Chuck Garric, Damon Johnson, Kerri Kelli, Jimmy DeGrasso, and of course, Tiffany Lowe. Alice finished the song and left the crowd with the statement “Be Awake, Be Aware, Zombies Are Everywhere!” Alice and the band left the stage without an encore, which happens sometimes when you are the opening act. I would have loved to hear, “Department Of Youth.”
I was surprised to look at my son several times to see him singing along with each and ever song. He was there for Rob Zombie, so I asked him how he knew all the songs. He said that he had been listening to my CDs and DVDs of Alice.
Being a huge Alice Cooper fan I am giving this show a 9.8 on the Concert Blast scale. It was everything that I have come to expect from one of his concerts. The .2 that I am deducting from the rating is the absence of the song, “Department Of Youth.” Alice is over 60 years old and he keeps rocking night after night. I hope he keeps coming back for a long time.
Written by James Downing
Tags: Alice Cooper Concert Review, Alice Cooper set list, Chuck Garric, concert blast, Damon Johnson, Interviews, James Downing, Jimmy DeGrasso, Kerri Kelli, Knoxville, Memorial Coliseum, reviews, rob zombie, Tiffany Lowe, TN