As Cooper hinted during his Oct. 22 interview with the Syracuse New Times,
the Turning Stone gig was more of a greatest-hits showcase, a theme
that tied Cooper’s tour throughout its two-year, 200-venue stretch. The
venerable shock-rocker got the party started with an amalgam of his
most popular tunes, including “No More Mr. Nice Guy” and “I’m
Eighteen,” immediately taking care of the business of giving fans a
spoonful of sugar. Part orchestral conductor and part rockin’ frontman,
Cooper employed a black crutch as a baton as well as a cattle prod to
humorously push his guitarists to the front of the stage during the
solo sections of his opening montage.
Prison alarms sounded shortly after a
strong rendition of “Is It My Body?” Cooper’s band spun chaotically
around the stage, meandering among searchlights seemingly meant to coax
a perpetrator out of the shadows. “Woman of Mass Destruction” followed,
updating fans with the track from Cooper’s successful 2005 release, Dirty Diamonds
(Spitfire). Cooper rounded out the hit parade that defined the first
half of the set with tunes like “Lost In America,” his take on the
vicious cultural cycles by which The Man keeps us down, and “Feed My
Frankenstein,” the horror tale featured during Cooper’s appearance in Wayne’s World.
Alice in Wonderland: Rock legend Alice
Cooper and guitarist Keri Kelli (right) shined during the Oct. 28
Turning Stone appearance. MICHAEL DAVIS PHOTO
The show’s second act, however, was more
defined by short, theatrical quips that correlated with the lyrics of
Cooper’s tunes. For example, red lights swathed the stage during
“Vengeance Is Mine,” a tune off of his new concept album Along Came a Spider
(Steamhammer). Cooper menacingly swung a saber around the stage to
accentuate his portrayal of the rage expressed by the album’s lead
character, an imprisoned serial killer.
As a corollary to “Halo of Flies,”
Cooper’s wife Sheryl and their daughters Calico and Sonora made their
way on stage, dressed as a trio of Japanese geishas-turned-gangsters.
Bassist Chuck Garric dropped into a solo line, swaddled in a
phaser effect like the one used in Ted Nugent’s recording of
“Stranglehold.” That marked the beginning of a segment best described
as a rock version of Stomp, as guitarists Keri Kelli and Jason Hook shared Eric Singer’s drum kit for a three-man drum solo.
Such dramatic pseudo-plays captivated
the Showroom audience, yet Cooper’s current hodgepodge of supporting
band members demonstrated some amazing musicianship. Kelli, for
example, played a solo interlude early on, running through an acoustic,
flamenco improv that stymied the bragging rights of metal guitarists.
Singer, whose backlit shadow (thanks to a cool effect from a
fog machine) often hovered over the stage like a monstrous ghost,
blasted through Cooper’s material with a sublime self-confidence, and
he was accompanied by some spectacular synched-strobe lighting during
Cooper’s show went further over the top
toward its finale, especially when a mallet-wielding Alice drove a
spike through an infant doll’s skull during “Dead Babies.”
Consequently, a pair of executioners entered from backstage to place
Cooper into a strait-jacket, while the demented voice of a child
tormented Cooper through the public-address system. Men in black
brought an enormous gallows to the center of the stage, as the
harbingers of death wrapped a noose around Cooper’s neck, then dropped
the rocker to his gruesome death.
The unraveled plot’s epilogue came in
the form of an encore montage, which, among other gems, contained the
evergreen “School’s Out,” a tune that was made twice as epic after its
inclusion in last year’s hit rhythm game, Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock.
Cooper claimed independence regarding Beltway issues during his New Times
interview, but that didn’t stop him from poking fun at the politicians.
For “Elected,” Cooper hung out with an actor in a George W. Bush mask
while stand-ins for Barack Obama and John McCain resolved their
differences by making out with each other. Picketers came from behind
the stage with signs that read “Wild Party” and “A troubled man, for
troubled times,” in an effort to convince concert goers to write in
Cooper’s name during the upcoming election.
Given the twisted Partridge Family vibe
that came from watching Cooper and his kin in action, the veteran
rocker seemed dementedly delighted throughout his entire performance.
The legend still has an endless amount of steam to burn, which Cooper
will need during next year’s promotional tour for Along Came a Spider—and if it hits Central New York again, the gruesome greatness should be a must-see for rock fans.