Back in the late 60s, Alice Cooper’s theatrics horrified decent folk all over the country. So much so that while most of us probably can’t hum any of his songs without looking ’em up first? Everyone knows what the man looks like.
Except Alice Cooper isn’t a man. Or at least, the character isn’t. And it’s important to draw distinctions between the character and the man who eventually took on the character’s name for his own. Who was cross-dressing well before most anyone else we associate with androgyny in Rock and Roll. Who brought along the skulls and gore way before anyone else. Who has left an indelible mark on his craft that will quite likely never fade.
These days, of course, Cooper’s theatrics have been co-opted as the basis for numerous genres with bands far more depraved than anything a guy growing up in the 1950s could possibly conceive of — and when the stage antics fail to elicit so much as a raised eyebrow in the here and now? The burden falls squarely on the shoulder of the music as to whether or not this man and his band are entertaining. At the age of 69, can Alice Cooper still pull this off?
Yes. Yes, he can. And that’s much more shocking than on stage guillotines, fake blood, Ouija boards, or mock executions.
I can’t lie to you, this isn’t my particular brand of music. But if you’re into the heyday of Heavy Metal it behooves you to catch Cooper while he’s still around. Time has almost certainly exacted a toll — I can’t tell you that he doesn’t look his age (or worse) — but nothing seems to have to slowed this guy down. Alice Cooper still rocks on a stage. Still moves through his schtick with the grace of an athlete, and still manages to belt out his songs with a ferocity that belies his status as a senior citizen.
Pivoting from Kishi Bashi’s literate Pop / whatever-exactly-it-is-he’s-doing the night before to Cooper’s Motor City fueled Hard Rock / Heavy Metal was a bit jarring. But in the afterglow of the next morning, one is forced to accede that Alice Cooper’s fans love him every bit as much as Kishi’s love him.
That people so different from each other can fuel so much passion for so many disparate souls?
What a wide, wonderful world it is.
All photos by Jeff Hewitt