It's not too often that a big name rock star comes to my hometown of Bismarck, North Dakota these days, but last night it did happen. After playing dozens of shows overseas, Cooper kicked off his American tour on August 3 at the Sturgis Bike Rally. Since he had some time off before his Bismarck appearence on August 5, he decided to spend the day before the show hanging around the city. Some friends of mine had a Cooper sighting at the Kirkwood Mall in Bismarck, but unfortunately I wasn't in the area. It's not every day that Alice Cooper hangs out at the local shopping center, but according to people I spoke with he acted like an "everyday guy".
As for the show itself, we were able to get some great seats through Ticketmaster, which doesn't happen too often. After the opening band "Tat" finished their set, we sat and waited for Alice. The piano intro played with a giant red curtain draped in front of the stage, and as soon as it dropped the man himself came out and kicked off the show with "It's Hot Tonight". Looking just the same as he always has, Alice Cooper paraded around the stage with his wide array of props including batons, swords, canes, and crutches. In the front row there was almost no distance between us and Alice, so he had plenty of fun giving us his trademark angry stares and mocking expressions. Although the full space of the Civic Center wasn't utilized for the show, the 2-3,000 people that were there gradually became more and more involved as the show went on.
The stage props were amusing, ranging from a dead corpse during "Cold Ethyl" to dead babies during none other than "Dead Babies". In addition to Cooper and his stage antics, his band was equally impressive. Of course the band's most notable members are Keri Kelli and Eric Singer, the latter of which is also the drummer for Kiss. Kelli has played with dozens of groups including Warrant, Ratt, and L.A. Guns. Jason Hook on guitar and Chuck Garric on bass rounded off the line-up. Alice's daughter Calico even finds work in the family business as a dancer and actress on the stage.
In all, Alice tore through 24 songs, most of which were from his early years in the 1970s. In fact, he only played one song in total from the 1980s - "Poison". "Welcome to My Nightmare" included a stage full of zombies, "Dirty Diamonds" saw Alice handing out silver necklaces to the crowd, "Elected" saw an on-stage battle between Hillary and Obama mask-bearers, and of course "School's Out" featured Alice in his trademark white hat and coat. Last but not least, Cooper was even hung on the guillotine following his assault of the "dead babies". The band sounded very tight on all of Cooper's hits, and there was a great instrumental break following "Halo of Flies" including a drum solo from Eric Singer.
Cooper has a great stage presence and he knows how to entertain an audience with his wild on-stage antics and props. He's been doing it for 40 years, and I can see him doing it for many more. I was able to get some great pictures of the show, and you can see them at the link below.