Pompano Beach Amphitheater, Pompano Beach
Saturday, October 3, 2009
Better Than: Watching some new jacks noodle boringly in the name of authenticity.
This past Saturday marked a strange, rare occasion in which fans of shlock-gore-obsessed hard rock were faced with a difficult choice. At Revolution, there was GWAR, but further up in Pompano, there was the grand originator of it all: Alice Cooper. I opted for the latter, which, while stain-free, was still an entertaining, good-time bang for the buck. But an Alice Cooper show is not really just about the fake blood. Cooper plays music that, while still hard, is instantly recognized and liked by almost any average rock fan.
That was evidence in the age spread of the crowd. While most there seemed like they were probably teenage Cooper fans when he first appeared, there were plenty of under-21s as well. I saw Cooper-style face paint on more than audience members of both age groups, male and female alike. The general vibe of the show was thus egalitarian and good-natured (if, occasionally, very beer-drunk and weirdly loud in the bathrooms).
The party-time vibe was set from the get-go, as Cooper opened with, arguably, his biggest hit: "School's Out." The song is such a slice of classic rock awesome that the most enthusiastic front rows of audience rushed the barriers at the front, and stayed put for the rest of the set. It was fun to see that reaction from the crowd at Pompano Beach Amphitheater, which can sometimes seem a little staid.
How to follow that? By rip-roaring through a long set of mostly classic-era, crowd-pleasing songs, complete with an array of ghoulish costumes that entertain more than scare. So many new acts confuse "keeping it real" or whatever with being boring, so some full-blown showmanship from a master of it seems refreshing, rather than dated.
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Luckily, also, over the years Cooper has shed much of the creepy borderline misogyny of his early years. Women aren't getting faux-tortured on racks any more; instead, in his current incarnation, a fiendish nurse and other assorted characters spend a lot of time torturing Alice instead. Don't worry though, Cooper hasn't gotten boring. There were chainsaws shooting sparks, guillotines, Cooper in a noose, Cooper in a giant spider costume, Cooper in a torture chamber. All of that while the man ably chanted untouchable fist-pumpers like "I'm Eighteen," "Be My Lover," "Vengeance is Mine," "Welcome to My Nightmare," and, of course, "No More Mr. Nice Guy." That last song remains one of the most fun to sing along to live, ever -- and if that wasn't enough, Cooper returned for an encore of "Schools' Out" -- yes, again. Above all, he's an unabashed fan-pleaser, and bless him for that.
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Personal Bias: Alice Cooper always, happily, reminds me of two of my favorite pieces of entertainment: Dazed and Confused ("School's Out") and Freaks and Geeks ("I'm Eighteen").
Random Detail: Considering this crowd was well into adulthood, you'd think people would have treated the bathrooms a little better, right? Wrong....
By the Way: On unrelated business, later that night I drove past Revolution just as the GWAR show was letting out, and there seemed to be a couple ambulances out front, lights blazing. Anyone know what the hell happened in there?