Concert Preview: Alice Cooper comes along to Boston
Maybe it’s the witches of Salem that beckon Alice Cooper to find his way to this region just about every Halloween week. On Saturday, Oct. 25, Alice makes his annual pilgrimage to the Boston area, closing out his concert tour in the Bay State at the Orpheum Theater. In support of his new release, “Along Came A Spider,” the theatrical rock star will, no doubt, keep a few surprises in reserve for his faithful audience.
“Along Came A Spider” isn’t a belated soundtrack to Morgan Freeman’s 2001 film of the same name, it’s simply the resilient Alice Cooper delivering another solid outing of hard-edged pop music with a terrific track, “Vengeance Is Mine,” getting spins on You Tube and MySpace video. “To forgive is divine/but vengeance is mine” is an interesting bit of poetry from a fellow who is a devout Christian offstage and a total madman when the makeup is applied.
Insane asylums, hypodermic needles and spiders — lots of spiders — are part of the fright stuff in Cooper’s repertoire ...or arsenal. Way back in 1965 the young Vincent Furnier (the singer’s real name) called his band The Spiders, continuing the fascination with arachnids on 1969’s “Easy Action” LP with the song “Return Of The Spiders,” and taking it all to another level with “The Black Widow” on 1975’s “Welcome To My Nightmare.”
That disc featured horror film star Vincent Price (an idea Michael Jackson pounced on, nabbing Price for his 1982 classic “Thriller” LP), giving another twist to the music and truly opening the hard-rock performer up to the fans of the sci-fi/fantasy genres, a base that appreciates its heroes moving into other media. The fact that Eric Singer, ex of Kiss, plays drums on this new release is not just trivia — Kiss certainly followed in Cooper’s show biz footsteps, and that band’s own group of followers, the Kiss Army, are as rabid as “Star Trek” — or horror film — fans.
As actor and sometime singer Billy Bob Thornton says in the You Tube documentary entitled “Along Came A Video,” “There wouldn’t be a Kiss, or a Marilyn Manson or any of those people (without Alice Cooper).”
Thirty-three years later the “Along Came A Spider” disc could be considered a sequel, of sorts, to “Welcome To My Nightmare,” a driving collection of songs revolving around a short story Alice wrote about a serial killer.
“Killed By Love” is a ballad that, if heard on the radio, would stand on its own outside of the morbid context of this release, just as “Only Women Bleed” took on its own life as a 45, launching from the “Nightmare” album but not getting entangled by it.
The curious thing about “Only Women Bleed” is that it opened up an entirely new career for the heavy metal artist — putting his softer-rock pop music on the same stations with Helen Reddy and Barry Manilow. “You and Me,” “I Never Cry” and “How You Gonna See Me Now” sound like a totally different artist than the destructive dynamo found on the concert stage, a fact only exposed when an announcer said the name of hard rock star Alice Cooper, not Kenny Rogers, after playing one of these popular titles.
And his latest outing is a nice addition to the Cooper collection. “The One That Got Away” is good pop/rock, while “I’m Hungry” revisits a riff from his old nugget “Is It My Body.” The coup for the Coop this year is that ex-Guns ’n’ Roses guitarist Slash is on the new disc at the same moment his old band is about to release its long-awaited lost-in-limbo album.
The singer also has one of the better syndicated radio programs, “Nights With Alice Cooper” (nightswithalicecooper.com), which broadcasts in this region Saturday nights on WZLX, 100.7 FM It would be nice if WZLX would pre-empt the radio show this Saturday night and broadcast Alice live from the Orpheum Theater. Now that would be a treat.
While Freddy Krueger and Friday the 13th’s Jason Vorhees splash blood and gore, Alice Cooper plays a more sympathetic serial killer on “Along Came A Spider” ... someone Morgan Freeman as forensic psychologist Alex Cross would put away with a sense of pity.
The Orpheum Theater is located at 1 Hamilton Place, Boston, across from the State House and the Boston Common. Telephone: 617-679-0810. Tickets for the Oct. 25 show, if still available, through Ticketmaster.com.