The Earbits crew recently got the chance to witness a little bit of Sunset Strip history – last weekend, rock legend Alice Cooper returned to perform at The Whisky a Go Go for the first time since 1969, and our own Roshmond “Sum” Patten was lucky enough to attend. Check out his account of the night-to-remember.
Alice Cooper, Live at The Whisky a Go Go, 9/15/2011  | Photo Courtesy of Celina Denkins

Alice Cooper hadn’t been to The Whisky A Go Go since 1969, when he was a self-proclaimed Doors fanboy opening up for Led Zepplin. Needless to say, when word spread that he was returning to celebrate the release of Welcome 2 My Nightmare, it inspired all sorts of craggy rock fans to blow the dust and cobwebs from their bandanas and black nail polish bottles to come see Ol’ Black Eyes himself. I personally witnessed those tickets sell out within mere minutes of going on sale, and had given up all hope of checking this show out. But as the luck of the dragon had it, a fateful invite from The Whisky’s soon-to-be legendary booking manager (and Earbits artist Kathryn Gallagher manager) Celina Denkins roped me in.

And how could I resist? Part of my childhood was spent in small town Illinois, where corn farmers, Chicago gangland ex-pats and college students co-habitated in a stone-washed 80s bliss. Alice Cooper was part of that magic, and has been a big part of my lifelong study of American music history….so hanging at home was NOT an option. I called up Joey, and Earbits history was made.

 

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After an introduction by the surprisingly-guy-next-doorish Rob Zombie, Vincent Damon Furnier aka “Alice Cooper” hit the stage…not in full drag regalia, but full of life nonetheless. The show was amazing, if not fairly mellow and sparse. Even though Alice hadn’t been to The Whisky in over 40 years, it was clear that he’d been performing steadily as he launched into a 90-minute barrage of classics, covers and new material with plenty of youthful energy and guitar power to boot. His showman’s banter was as sharp as ever, and although there were no guillotines or buckets of hot bat blood, a huge python did make an appearance around Alice’s neck for one song. Word on the streets was that this wasn’t Cooper’s usual snake. The usual snake was off in Australia somewhere, presumably singing on a stage with a 63 year old rocker winding around it’s neck. Or fishing, would be my next guess.

From his punchy cover of the Stones’ “Brown Sugar” to “I’m Eighteen”, his trademark humor and dry wit were in rare form as he poked fun at everything, everyone and himself, smiling the whole way through. Perhaps the highlight of the show was the guest appearance of guitar god Robby Krieger of The Doors, who pulled in axe duties for buttery covers of “Break on Through” and “Back Door Man” while Cooper performed as if he’d been singing those songs most of his life. Based on his love for Morrison, he probably had. Regular band staff included the talented and alluring Orianthi (Michael Jackson’s handpicked guitarist for This Is It, right before he passed), who thrashed as hard as some of the more grizzled rockers on stage.

Even though the crowd was a bit docile for an Alice Cooper show, it was a great time, and I smiled like a big kid when they ended set with “Elected”, personal favorite. If Alice Cooper rolls through your town, even if you aren’t a fan of hard rock, go see it for the wisecracks and showmanship alone. It’s worth it.

Setlist:

Train Kept A-Rollin’ (The Yardbirds cover)
Under My Wheels
No More Mr. Nice Guy
Is It My Body
Brown Sugar (Rolling Stones cover)
I’ll Bite Your Face Off
Muscle of Love
Cold Ethyl
We Gotta Get Out of This Place (Eric Burdon and the Animals cover)
Billion Dollar Baby
Break on Through (The Doors cover with Robby Krieger)
Back Door Man (The Doors cover with Robby Krieger)
Poison
I’m Eighteen
School’s Out (with Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick In The Wall Part 2″ snippet)
Elected

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