Alice Cooper packs Proctors with rock classics, theatrics

Alice Cooper may no longer be on rock’s cutting edge the way he used to be back in the ’70s, but as
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Alice Cooper may no longer be on rock’s cutting edge the way he used to be back in the ’70s, but as he showed Sunday night at Proctors, his legacy is untouchable.

For two hours, Cooper and company rocked a packed house with his Psycho-Drama Tour show, with everyone on their feet from the opening medley of “It’s Hot Tonight/No More Mr. Nice Guy,” straight through to the encore. Times may be different today, and Cooper may be 60 years old, but his is a live show that few other artists, young or old, can touch.

Yes, it was all here, from stage props to zombies to damsels in distress. His band, featuring Keri Kelli and Jason Hook on guitars, Chuck Garric on bass and the ever-faithful Eric Singer behind the drum kit, provided thick muscle and punch to Cooper’s garage and hard rock hits.

The set offered, as promised, a mix of prime Cooper cuts, with the oldest material performed being three classics from 1971’s “Love it to Death” release. With no stage banter, Cooper was able to draw his audience into his demonic world, reveling in his nastiness and garage-rock sleaze on cuts such as “Is it My Body” and “Under My Wheels.” Cooper’s standard “I’m Eighteen” stuck to a fairly faithful reading of the classic “Love it to Death” recording, with some nimble fretwork from Hook and especially Kelli adding a modern hard rock sheen to the proceedings.

Cooper’s hair-metal influenced ’80s period reared its head for a bit with “Feed My Frankenstein,” the track that introduced a new generation to the group via “Wayne’s World.” Albeit cheesy, the song is one of Cooper’s more enjoyable metallic rockers, and the band played with great gusto to the enthusiastic crowd.

Set centerpiece “Halo of Flies” was an instant highlight, featuring solos from Garric and Singer. The song segued into a four-song suite from Cooper’s first album as a solo artist, the 1975 concept record “Welcome to My Nightmare.” Cooper’s daughter Calico took center-stage here, with Cooper dragging her offstage at one point, emerging with a doll that he proceeded to beat up on through “Cold Ethyl.”

Here the plot thickened. (How many rock shows have plots? You’ve got to love Alice.) Cooper was captured and put into a straight jacket during “Dead Babies,” but managed to escape during an impassioned reading of “The Ballad of Dwight Fry.” Here the band was at their absolute best, driving the eerie acoustic epic home with taught rhythm strumming and silky electric leads.

Of course, Cooper was re-captured, and disposed of. This tour, the job goes to the gallows, with Cooper hanging while Garric took over vocal duties for a short run-through of “I Love the Dead,” before Cooper returned for the anthem, “School’s Out,” which closed out the main set.

Perhaps the only complaint here was that things felt a little too planned, too sterile for the raucous rock ’n’ roll of Cooper’s past. However, one can’t argue with the show’s theatrics, which obviously require some degree of certainty in the set, not to mention that those hits have to be played. As it stood, Cooper’s performance was firing on all cylinders at Proctors. Here’s hoping we’ll see him around the region for the “Along Came a Spider” tour.

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