Musically, Phoenix doesn't have a ton to brag about. Sure,, we've had some locals make noise in the national circuit like Jimmy Eat World, Linkin Park's Chester Bennington, not to mention people like Rob Halford and Stevie Nicks, who have had homes in the Valley at one point or another. We saw Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac last week, but over time our proven winner is clearly Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Alice Cooper.
At 66 years old, Cooper qualifies for every senior citizen discount offered in the Valley, but on Saturday night he reminded local fans just how important he is, not only as a musical figure but how his influence will live far beyond his years.
Normally Coop's annual Christmas Pudding concert includes a stripped-down version of five or six signature tunes before whatever headliner he called up that year closed the show. This year the original shock rocker headlined the event and performed a proper, theatrical Alice Cooper show.
It would be easy to write the Christmas Pudding show off as a nostalgic visit to the past. In some ways it was, opening sets by Thousand Foot Krutch, P.O.D, and Night Ranger -- yes, Night Ranger, who did their best to prove you can still rock in America, but really showed us that you can still tour on songs from 20 years ago. These guys are Pudding veterans, but songs like "Sister Christian" were really rough on the ears as drummer/singer Kelly Keagy struggled to hit any of the notes.
The jam featuring Nils Lofgren, Jonny Lang, Coop drummer Glen Sobel, with Rainbow singer Joe Lynn Turner was about 15 minutes too long. That said, Lang is without a doubt a master on the guitar, and hearing Turner belt out "Stone Cold" was impressive.
It wasn't until after midnight that Alice finally took the stage and gave the audience a shot of adrenaline with opener "Hello Hooray." He wasted no time diving into "No More Mr. Nice Guy," which got quite a rise out of the crowd. "Under My Wheels" followed and really showcased the skills of guitarist Nita Strauss, who was the perfect replacement for former shredder Orianthi. You'd think it was weird hearing a 66-year old man singing about his angst-ridden teen days, but "I'm Eighteen" is still as relevant today as it was when producer Bob Ezrin helped put Coop on the map.
Alice brought out Coop-branded dollar bills on a sword during "Billion Dollar Babies." One of the highlights of the 60-minute set was "Dirty Diamonds," where he threw our pearl necklaces to the crowd, but it was really the bridge section of the song, where each band member took the spotlight to show their chops, that showed just how good his current band is.
"Welcome to My Nightmare" followed with Alice wearing a top hat and snake as he pranced around the stage. The real theatrics happened during "Ballad of Dwight Fry," with Cooper sporting a straight jacket before escaping to strangle the evil nurse (his wife Sheryl Cooper). After his be-heading on a guillotine, the band performed "I Love the Dead," with a roadie in a gas mask holding Alice's head. "School's Out" probably got the best response of the night, and mixing Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall: Part 2" into the second half of the song didn't hurt in the crowd participation department.
The long show ended with a cover of The Beatles classic "Revolution" with all of the evening's performers as snow covered the stage. It's still ironic that the man who basically created the term "shock rock" spends each December in Phoenix raising money for underprivileged teens the Valley.
Saturday Night: Alice Cooper's Christmas Pudding at Comerica Theatre.
Personal Bias: I just can't get enough of the Coop these days.
Oversaw in the Crowd: Old ladies running for the doors after the first intermission when Thousand Foot Krutch went on.
Random Notebook Dump:The show ran way too late.
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