Classic rock fans welcomed a nightmare for the ages at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles, California, Sunday evening when Alice Cooper‘s Paranormal Evening with Alice Cooper tour stormed into town with Bronx rocker Ace Frehley in tow.
Los Angeles has no shortage of outdoor concert venues, but the Greek’s natural intimacy and forested surroundings gave the night a surreal, otherworldly feel. Frehley warmed up the crowd with both solo favorites and KISS classics like “Rip It Up,” “Detroit Rock City,” “Cold Gin,” and a thundering “Love Gun.” Working with a tight band that still projected a garage rock feel, he proved that he doesn’t need makeup or boots to rock, though he did use his classic smoke bomb effect during a wild guitar solo. “I’ve still got it,” he smirked as the screeching notes reverberated across the theater.
But the night truly belonged to the one and only Alice Cooper who delivered a Broadway-worthy performance of over 20 songs. Neatly covering his astounding 50-year career, Cooper dueled with a cutlass on “Billion Dollar Babies,” got electrocuted into a lumbering 15 foot tall monster during “Feed My Frankenstein,” and, as always, found himself accused of murder and locked into a guillotine where he was executed to the gleeful cheers of the crowd at the end of the show.
Cooper offered only a pair of new songs from his new Paranormal album, relying mostly on fan favorites like “No More Mr. Nice Guy,” “Poison,” and “Only Women Bleed.” His discography is so deep that it is easy to forget how many fantastic songs he has in his catalog, and “I Love The Dead” was followed by “Eighteen” and the night’s closer, “School’s Out.” While Cooper’s showmanship is second to none, equally impressive is his backing band, especially lead guitarist Nita Strauss. Strauss ripped, shredded, and owned the stage almost as much as the man himself. The five musicians delivered an epic, hard-hitting instrumental jam following Cooper’s beheading that was equally epic to any other song of the night.
The debt owed to Cooper by newer shock bands like Marilyn Manson and GWAR has been discussed countless times, but in truth, the entire metal world still carries bits of his DNA. Crunchy riffs, piercing solos, and macabre imagery are as much an invention of Alice Cooper and his band as they are Black Sabbath’s, and Sunday night’s performance was a fist-pumping reminder of both where metal came from and the joyously, evil levels that it can still reach.