Once upon a time there was a kid named Vincent who wanted to be in the high school talent show, so he and some fellow track members got together and created a mock band and called themselves The Earwigs. Only one of them could play an instrument. They wrote parodies of Beatles songs, dressed up, wore wigs for the show and they won it!
Fast forward four years and they’ve morphed into Alice Cooper and signed with Frank Zappa’s Straight Records.
Having covered several Alice Cooper shows, I have to say, there is a different buzz in the room when they’re going to play. The demographics of an Alice Cooper crowd are all over the map from young to old. The lines are all long, especially at the merchandise table. I hope the $50 t-shirts are of a high quality!
The last time I saw Alice Cooper the show started with pyrotechnics (boom, bang.)… This time it was lots of smoke. Lots and lots of smoke (pfffff…)!
The lights came up and Alice emerged from the smoke in his top hat, cane and tails, and the band followed. They were Cooper’s steadfast team of talent: Ryan Roxie, Reno’s own Chuck Garric, Glen Sobel and Nita Strauss. Absent was Tommy Henriksen for reasons I could not unearth.
As is normal for his shows, they moved from one song to the next with no banter or tuning or other delays. During “Fallen In Love” Cooper had a great harp solo, switching it up with Nita Strauss on guitar.
Also, during this song Strauss had a misstep, stepping off of the castle stairs and injuring her right knee. She described it as, “ …the most overwhelming pain I’ve ever had in my life.” She sat on the stairs for a while, then a ‘goolish’ stage hand wrapped it up. Later she had the wrap removed and continued on with a limp and a more gentle approach to her theatrics. She stayed till the end of the show, in obvious pain, but you couldn’t hear it in her playing.
Besides the scary castle stage design, other exciting bits of theatrical brilliance were the 10-foot (or more) Frankenstein creature that makes two appearances, a mock execution of an audience member, a devilishly hot woman in black and red sporting a whip and, of course, Alice in a straight jacket eventually getting his head cut off with a guillotine. The fun never stops!
When you couple the theatrics of the show with the talented musicians in the band, you are in for an amazing and memorable evening. During one of her incredible solos Strauss almost seemed to be channeling Eddie Van Halen. Amazing player indeed.
Ryan Roxie had his moments to shine, as did drummer Glen Sobel. I’m always amazed at his stick control. During his extended drum solo he was twirling his sticks like propellers while doing bass drum rolls with his double bass setup. This solo spilled into Chuck Garric’s bass guitar solo.
The show encored with “School’s Out” and a segue into Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick inThe Wall,” accompanied with confetti and giant balloons bouncing about over the audience. The evening ended with Cooper giving very nicely composed introductions of each band member. This was the only point in the show where he broke character. What a pro!
…and the hunchback helped Strauss exit the stage.
Alice Cooper – lead vocals, harmonica, guitar, percussion, synthesizer
Ryan Roxie – lead and rhythm guitar, backing vocals
Chuck Garric – bass guitar, backing vocals
Glen Sobel – drums, percussion
Nita Strauss – lead and rhythm guitar, backing vocals
Feed My Frankenstein, No More Mr. Nice Guy, Bed of Nails, Hey Stoopid, Fallen In Love, Be My Lover, Go Man Go, Under My Wheels, He’s Back (The Man Behind The Mask), Go to Hell, I’m Eighteen, Poison, Billion Dollar Babies, Guitar Solo by Nita Strauss, Roses on White Lace, My Stars, Devils Food, Black Widow Jam, Steven, Dead Babies, I Love The Dead, Escape, Teenage Frankenstein, (Encore) School’s Out/Another Brick In The Wall
Nick McCabe is a Reno-based photojournalist and musician. He’s been shooting concerts in the Reno-Tahoe area since 2006 and writing articles and reviews since 2012, as well as doing interviews on occasion. His musical education and playing experience goes back to 1967. He is a founding member of the Reno Tahoe Forte’ Awards, and he still plays music locally for enjoyment. First concert: Jimi Hendrix. Last concert: we’ll see.