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Concert Reviews:
Alice Cooper Keeps School Out For One More Night At State Fair
 

By GARY GRAFF
Of the Oakland Press

» See more SOUND CHECK

DETROIT -- There was a certain irony to Detroit-born shock rocker Alice Cooper's annual visit Monday (Sept. 3) to the Michigan State Fair. After all, singing "School's Out" only underscored the fact that school was actually starting the very next day in most of the state.

Nevertheless, an estimated 10,000 people, including more than a few Cooper wanna-bes in makeup and wigs -- were happy to spend that last night of summer vacation with Cooper and his band, singing along to anthems such as "No More Mr. Nice Guy" and "Eighteen" and cheering every one of the typically theatrical show's macabre episodes.

The body count started early in the 100-minute show -- from the get-go, actually, when Cooper (real name Vincent Furnier) "stabbed" his daughter and onstage foil Calico in silhouette before the curtain dropped as he declared "It's Hot Tonight." Her inert body lay on the stage while powered through the opening numbers until Cooper sang "Is It My Body?" to her before a couple of crew members carried her off on a stretcher.

Sunday's show seamlessly blended those theatrics with the basics of a solid, well-paced rock 'n' roll show. Relatively recent songs such as "Is It My Body," "Woman of Mass Distraction" and "Dirty Diamonds" allowed guitarists Keri Kelly and Jason Hook to show off twin solo duels, while a chunky, driving version of "Feed My Frankenstein" led into "Be My Lover," with the State Fair crowd predictably belting out the "I told her that I came from Dee-troit city" line. "Desperado," with Kelly's flamenco guitar introduction, was particularly strong, and the entire band got a chance to stretch out in the "Halo of Flies" suite, including a solo spot by drummer Eric Singer.

The "Welcome to My Nightmare" segment featured a revised crime-and-punishment morality play, adding a twist when Cooper, still dressed in the straitjacket from "The Ballad of Dwight Fry," was "hung" from a faux gallows for the murder he committed during "Dead Babies" -- a rapturously received public execution with a backbeat, made all the better when Cooper re-emerged in white tails and top hat, for "School's Out."

And, ever topical, Cooper made his case to be the next U.S. president as he closed the show with "Elected," declaring that "you can do worse" as crew members brandished signs declaring "He Doesn't Care" and "A Troubled Man For Troubled Times." After Sunday's concert, he had at least a 10,000-vote head start.



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