Alice Cooper Gets Seriously Spooky

May 13th, 2016

Alice Cooper – the Capitol Theatre – May 12, 2016

Whether he’s snuggling with a live snake, wrestling his way out of a straitjacket or chopping off his own head with a guillotine, one thing is for sure: Alice Cooper’s still got it. And whatever it is probably belongs under a dark sheet, ready to be unveiled with a flourish, just like every other element that made last night’s Capitol Theatre show so gripping. You’d think five-plus decades of hardcore showmanship would leave him a little sluggish, but the original shock rocker is far from finished. Rocking black eyeliner like he invented it (and seriously, how didn’t he?), Cooper surged onstage to the sounds of Vincent Price, legs spread defiantly as the screech of “The Black Widow” swirled around his striped suit. The seated crowd immediately rushed the stage and formed a makeshift pit—and the Cap’s tie-dyed security guards kindly let it slide.

The six-piece group (seven-, if you count the life-sized, bloody baby doll near the drums, and eight- if you count its creepy clown counterpart) dove into “Public Animal #9,” “No More Mr. Nice Guy” and “Under My Wheels,” Cooper’s voice sounding as rich and raspy as ever. His energy was palpable right up to the balconies, and he often let it out on his own band, playfully shoving them mid-solo or sneaking behind them to whisper something sinister. But his deft guitarists were far from distracted, kneeling right in one another’s faces to shred at impossible angles and become every kid’s new hero. With haunted-house theatrics so well suited for the Port Chester, N.Y., theater, each song became a spooky skit that elicited a big swell of gasps and a rumble of applause. The smoke machines rapidly spat out nuclear-looking fumes beneath green and orange lights, with the spider-filled eyes overlooking the stage changing color just as often. Throughout songs like “Is It My Body,” “Billion Dollar Babies” and “Poison,” horrors of all sizes emerged from the crate in the center, stagehands popping up with new props like a generous jack-in-the-box.

A six-minute, stick-flipping drum solo in “Halo of Flies” geared up everyone for the next big surprise, during “Feed My Frankenstein” under the glow of a massive apparatus. In one of his best fun-house illusions (and one that legitimately made me jump), Cooper strapped himself in for a convincing electric shock, suddenly reappearing from a puff of smoke as a 10-foot monster on stilts. The next series of stunts showed him beating/caressing a limp rag doll, facing down a sadistic nurse and spurting fake blood from the aforementioned guillotine, making “Cold Ethyl” and “Ballad of Dwight Fry” all the more fun and demented. After a portion of “Killer” led into “I Love the Dead,” an unexpected tribute took place in the cemetery set that had cropped up around them. As the taunting voice-over suggested during the “Under the Bed” intro, Cooper “raised the dead” and unveiled the larger-than-life headstones of three legendary late rockers: Keith Moon, Jimi Hendrix and David Bowie. Then, to the audience’s thrill, he and his band brewed heartfelt renditions of “Pinball Wizard,” “Fire,” and “Suffragette City” in their honor before wrapping with “I’m Eighteen” and “School’s Out” (featuring a bit of Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall, Pt. 2”)—and an encore of “Elected” as an explosion of bubbles swallowed the stage. Slivers of silver confetti rained down conclusively, reminding us all what a real show should feel like. —Olivia Isenhart | @OliviaIsenhart