TAMPA, FL — Alice Cooper handily defended his title as the godfather of shock rock during the Tampa stop of his “Detroit Stories” tour. Framed by an impressive “Nightmare Castle” set and backed by a talented squad of musicians, Cooper kept the crowd on their feet with a decades-spanning set.
The concert kicked off with the sinister circus tones of “Welcome to My Nightmare” bleeding into “Nightmare Castle,” cuing a murmur of anticipation from the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre crowd. More than a few fans sported gray ponytails (a given for an artist who debuted in 1969), but Cooper’s enduring appeal also meant the crowd included fans who got to stay up late on a school night.
As soon as the curtain dropped the band immediately launched into “Feed My Frankenstein,” one of a staggering 48 singles in Cooper’s repertoire. Cooper emerged in coattails, top hat and signature eye liner, whipping a prop cane around like a geriatric madman.
The first four songs played to nostalgia and classic Cooper, before dipping into the 2010s with “Fallen in Love” from 2017’s Paranormal. That was chased by the rollicking “Go Man Go” from 2021’s Detroit Stories, before swinging back all the way to 1971 when Alice Cooper was the band and not the solo act with “Under My Wheels.”
The opening track of his 2021 release is actually a cover of the Velvet Underground’s “Rock and Roll.” Technically a Lou Reed contemporary, with both the seminal Loaded and Alice Cooper’s Love it to Death and Killer released in 1971, Cooper adds a significantly grittier edge to the breezy track. Performed live, that change comes courtesy not only of Cooper’s growled vocals but a tremendous backing band.
The bench strength of Alice Cooper’s touring band includes guitarists Ryan Roxie, Tommy Henriksen and Nita Strauss, drummer Glen Sobel and bass player Chuck Garric. Most double as Cooper’s studio band as well, and they flawlessly generated a wall of sweet rock music. The showstopper was Strauss, who lived up to her nickname Hurricane Nita with a nonstop flurry of headbanging long blonde hair and hot riffs.
Cooper’s famous theatrics were present from the get-go, from the elaborate castle set to a gigantic baby strutting on stage during “Billion Dollar Babies”.
Support on the tour comes from founding KISS guitarist Ace Frehley, who provided a blistering set of classic rock. Frehley opened with the KISS catalogue staples “Rocket Ride,” “Parasite,” and “Strutter,” before jumping into 1978’s “Rip it Out” from his first self-titled album. Proto-metal Mountain’s “Never in My Life” followed, chased by Led Zeppelin’s “Good Times, Bad Times.” The highlight was a seamless blend of KISS’s “Cold Gin” and “Black Diamond.”
Frehley joined Cooper on stage for the encore of “School’s Out.”
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Alice Cooper Set List
Feed My Frankenstein
No More Mr. Nice Guy
Bed of Nails
Fallen in Love
Go Man Go
Under My Wheels
He’s Back (The Man Behind the Mask)
Rock & Roll (Velvet Underground cover)
Billion Dollar Babies
Guitar Solo (Nita Strauss)
Roses on White Lace
Black Widow Jam
I Love the Dead
School’s Out (with Ace Frehley)
Show Date: October 11, 2021