A Glitch in Time Saves None

Where were you when the lights didn't go out? All the dangers of Celebration 2000 that Phoenix shut-ins sat out.

Cooper gets my vote as the next Mr. New Year's Eve, should they ever resurrect that post. First off, with only three minutes to go on the countdown clock, he squeaks in his shortest song, "Cold Ethyl," and still manages to beat Dick Clark and his parka up to the roof to count down from 37. Then once the balloons fall from the ceiling, Cooper reclaims "Auld Lang Syne" for those punks in the Royal Canadians, playing it three times the speed Kenny G clocked in at.

Time: After midnight

For this second set, Alice relives his Spiders days as a Phoenix cover band with a triple play of Stones covers, wondering aloud "if the Stones are somewhere doing Alice Cooper songs." Then he polls people on their favorite band, and since no crazed Liverpool assassins are in attendance, Alice proceeds with four Beatle tunes, dedicated to the hospitalized George. It was during "Revolution" that people who've left Celebration 2000 start to congregate outside Cooper'stown, pulling back its black tarps to get a peak inside. All evening, security has not had to tell one patron to step down off the handicap ramp railing. Now there's a gathering mob outside that looks as if it means to turn this into a free festival. Security prevails, but not until some people without passes are ushered in. Maybe the door persons have resurrected Studio 54's "you, you and you" method of natural selection.

Time: Sometime in the morning

Pumped as I am about seeing the Coop set, I'm anticipating that the climactic rockin' New Year's Eve all-star jam will turn out like one of Dick Clark's disastrous old TV specials. The ones where he'd invite everyone up onstage -- from Pete Best to Johnny Winter to Slash to Christine McVie to Frankie Avalon on trumpet -- and they'd make a 20-minute blooper, bleep and blunder outta "Johnny B. Goode." My friend overhears this and assures me that "these good people have paid way too much money to hear 'Johnny B. Goode.' They'll probably get 'All Along the Watchtower' or something."

The strangest part about the jam is that Cooper never returns to kick-start it. Guess since he'd earlier performed "Jailhouse Rock" and "All Shook Up" in an Elvis wig, that was as much personal shame as he wanted to endure for the rest of the night. Those who had macabre visions of Cooper bringing his guillotine onstage to decapitate the Judds or chase Waylon Jennings around with a giant toothbrush will leave unsatisfied, especially since none of the invited country acts ever make it down. Instead, the Pistoleros start things up with a tough reworking of the Stones' "Heartbreaker" before inviting the Peacemakers' Roger Clyne up for a number. That goes fine, but it seems obvious that most of the people in the audience don't know who these hometown musicians are. Promised an all-star jam where maybe Waylon Jennings is gonna show and they get the Peacemakers making up words for "Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys."

The Peacemakers can get away with doing that ragged anthem in a fairly inebriated manner, but when they decide to play Bruce Springsteen's more challenging "Rosalita" in the same state of drunken deficiency, somebody else really ought to take the wheel. Mark Zubia of the Pistoleros valiantly jumps in on the choruses, but, realizing it's hopeless, he can't help but laugh his ass off. Clyne knocks his guitar neck into the mike stand more than once, there's phantom feedback, and bass notes are dropping out like Alka Seltzer in a glass. In short, "Rosalita" winds up raped and freezing in the Phoenix desert of Cooper'stown, bereft of saxophones, pianos and any real commitment.

If Clyne is indeed tipsy, he's earned points just for being the first overimbiber to weave into this den of decorum. Everyone's been on real good behavior tonight -- there are no instances of domestic squabbles or really inappropriate contact with police horses to speak of. The Righteous Brothers are among the all-star musicians who happily checked their egos at the door to perform, only to leave 40 minutes later without having sung a note. Perhaps it's because the organizers think Billy Idol's gonna show, as if he's higher up on the rock-star food chain at this late date. Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield, who once praised dead rock stars in a song called "Rock and Roll Heaven," are themselves in some kind of rock 'n' roll limbo, knocking back drinks at the bar with their families in tow, waiting for the Peacemakers to get done proving only women bleed by butchering "Rosalita."

Despite an announcement from the stage that Billy Idol's car has arrived, his sneer will be seen by no one here, many of whom are now frantically scrambling to take the attractive table centerpieces home. At one point, all of Three Dog Night were here, but come showtime, the band is reduced to one top Dog, Cory Wells, one "original sideman," one new sideman with modern lenswear wearing brand-spanking-new vintage clothing, two borrowed Peacemakers and one non-original guitarist from Steppenwolf. But the show must go on. After watching Cory Wells run down chord changes with the Peacemakers' bassist for the better part of 10 minutes, methinks we're in for a reprise of "Shambala." So after all this preamble, what do they play? "Memphis." And "Too Much Monkey Business."

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