By James Currie
Closing out the lake shore amphitheater season, Alice Cooper brings his “Detroit Stories” 2021 tour to a classic fall-esque tinged night with a full moon above, passing clouds blowing howling winds and even the occasional rain. The only thing missing from this night was blinding lightning and harsh thunder clashes. This was the last concert for Northerly Island and what a way to send it off into hibernation than a classic spook show.
These may be some of the reasons why the house wasn’t as full as it should have been. That, combined with a global pandemic still in effect, left the venue half full but the ones who attended brought the energy to make up for the lack of seats filled.
Opening the night was a guitar Icon. Fellow former face-painted rocker, Ace Frehley, and his band of super group musicians kicked off the night prompt with hits from his solo career, KISS and even tribute songs.
Frehley’s fairly new backing band is comprised of his old pal, Gene Simmons’ touring band. It features Ryan Cook and Jeremy Asbrock on guitars, Philip Shouse on bass and Christopher Williams on drums. Each of these members from other bands as well. Together in this combination they seem to reach earlier Ace solo ‘Frehley Comet’ era energy. They are tight, wild on stage and bring the showmanship to warrant backing a national rock treasure like Ace Frehley.
Frehley’s set tight, but too short, only 12 picks, but the pairing with Cooper works as the genre themes gel in complete rock synchronicity. We got a classic Ace guitar solo, a Led Zeppelin cover of “Good Times Bad Times” and crowd sing alongs. His set kicked off “Rocket Ride” which blasted fans into the stratosphere like a billionaire’s journey on their own spaceship and ended with the crowd chanting “Cold Gin” which welcomed the space invaders back to the earth.
When it was Alice Cooper’s turn, ol’ black eyes brought the show. It was a giant stage complete with Cooper’s castle walls, dungeon and spooky props. He kicked the show into high gear right from the get go with “Feed My Frankenstein” where his 9 foot tall Franken-Alice mascot creature was drug out on stage in chains by a hooded figure.
Alice Cooper’s band is another group of rock stars. He’s had this touring band for the better part of a decade now and they’ve just got it. They’re like a Timex watch. Cooper’s guitarists include Ryan Roxie, Tommy Henriksen and Nita Strauss. His rhythm section staffed by the Beasto Blanco Chuck Garric on bass and the master time keeper Glenn Sobel on drums. Each one a showman on their own but never letting their flare over top the ring leader.
Fan’s were kept in shock and awe as Alice Cooper’s show progressed with classic theatrical skits. It was backed with tracks like “Billion Dollar Babies” where we find a sword wielding Cooper flinging Alice bucks around, “Devil’s Food/Black Widow” giant spiders crawling on stage and the aforementioned Frankenstein monster at the beginning. Another creepy highlight, that was especially fitting for this time of year, was during “He’s Back (The Man Behind The Mask)”, the Friday the 13th soundtrack single that brought out a “camper” who quickly met her masked assailant, Jason Voorhees, and the edge of his machete. My personal favorite of the horror themed camp came near the end of the show where Alice (now in a straight jacket) performed with his wife (dressed as a wicked evil queen) and progressed through the trifecta of morbid melodies, “Steven” “Dead Babies” and “I Love The Dead”. This is the part where Cooper goes insane before he’s drug off to the guillotine and beheaded by big-head babies, a hangman and the evil queen. After he’s beheaded, the evil queen pulls out his head and parades around with it, caressing and kissing it before exiting stage left. The true highlight of the dark story that is Alice Cooper’s nightmare.
Cooper has been doing this type of show for decades and as tonight proved he can still do this for years to come. Aging apparently has nothing to do with his performance. As a matter of fact, the aging rocker actually fits his alter ego even better as each passing tour rolls through with every crack and crevice revealing lifes troupes filled with ups the and downs.
The pairing of Alice Cooper and Ace Frehley seems to be a great match. What could be better you might ask? How about Alice Cooper and KISS with Ace Frehley back in the band.