Review and photos by John Jeffrey
Alice Cooper is one of the longest-running institutions in the history of rock and roll. The self-proclaimed man who portrays the role of “Alice Cooper,” Vincent Furnier, is no stranger to them, as he was actually institutionalized for alcoholism in the late 70’s.
Since winning his battle with the bottle, “Alice Cooper” has been performing sober for decades. When performing on Friday night to a jam-packed crowd at Buffalo’s Outer Harbor, it was clear that the Alice Cooper of today is no longer the R-rated megalomaniac from the early days, but has transformed himself into a family-friendly “Captain Hook” of heavy metal. Even though Cooper’s fangs have been filed down quite a bit, his current backing band is ferocious as ever.
After a heavy rotation of guitar players in and out of the band over the last couple of years, Alice has come up with a solid trio of guitarists for the current lineup. Coop’s hat trick features the world-renown Orianthi (Michael Jackson), Tommy Henriksen, and the return of longtime Cooper band veteran, Ryan Roxie. Their chemistry is unmistakable, as Orianthi brings her “star power” and shredding capabilities to the table, while the bubbly and energetic Henriksen holds down a solid rhythm, and Roxie is there to make sure all of the classic and traditional guitar parts are included in order to keep the authentic Cooper sound intact.
When speaking with Roxie before the show, RockMusicStar asked him what it was like the be playing as a guitar trio as opposed to a guitar duo, which was what he was accustomed to when playing with Alice in the past. Ryan said he really enjoyed the multiple guitars in the mix, as he described it as a “wall of sound.”
Longtime bassist, Chuck Garric, and drummer, Glen Sobel, round out the rhythm section and were both impressive, especially during the musical breakdowns in songs like “Dirty Diamonds.” Aside from “Dirty Diamonds,” the only other newer song performed was the single from Alice’s last studio album, “Welcome 2 My Nightmare,” “I’ll Bite Your Face Off.” The rest of the set was a mix of Cooper’s classics from the 70’s and, surprisingly, a large dose of his 80’s pop-inspired material.
The biggest difference I noticed with Alice’s current show and shows I’ve seen in the past was the inclusion of pyrotechnics. It always seemed as though Alice was making a point to keep his show “theater” based, and didn’t want to join the ranks of groups such as KISS, who use the stage more as a spectacle. However, Alice opened the show with an impressive array of cold sparks coming down from the rafters, and set off quite a few concussion bombs at the end of “School’s Out”, the last song before the encore.
When Alice and co. took the stage for the last song of the evening, they were joined by a special guest for the finale, Marilyn Manson, who supplied an impressive and equally theatrical opening set, joining the Alice Cooper band to share lead vocals on the classic, “I’m Eighteen.” While not always seeing eye-to-eye in the past, you could clearly see that Manson and Cooper were on good terms and enjoyed being on stage with one another (or at least enough to pull it off for the fans). It was a fitting end to see the master and the student on stage together, as you got a sense of the proverbial torch being passed down.
In closing, it was great to see that theatrical rock still has such a large following, and to see two great artists who still believe in really putting on a show to satisfy their fans.
A very BIG special thanks to Ryan Roxie. And also Dana Kaiser and Scott Barberio for their assistance.