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Live Review: Alice Cooper digs in deep at the Sands

Alice Cooper played the Sands Event Center in Bethlehem, PA on July 1, 2012 and gave 90 minutes of hard-driving, three-guitar rock ’n’ roll.

Bethlehem, PA— With the slot machines clanging, the dice rolling, the cards slapping down in hopes of 21 and the big wheel spinning, Alice Cooper came to the Sands Casino (Sands Bethlehem Events Center) on a hot night in July and gave the fans — from teenagers to 60-somethings — exactly want they wanted: 90 minutes of hard-driving three-guitar rock ’n’ roll that was as tight and stop-on-a-dime exact as his original Alice Cooper band lineup, the one that recorded his first hit, “I’m Eighteen,” in 1971.

The spectacular entrance had Alice with six arms as “The Black Widow” shooting out sparks from the palms of his hands. “Billion Dollar Babies” had him throwing dollar bills into the first few rows. “Feed My Frankenstein” featured a real live 15-foot monster stomping around the stage. “Cold Ethyl” had him making out with a life-size doll whose head I thought he’d chop off. He didn’t. In fact, it was his own head that got chopped off by a huge guillotine during “Execution.” And when the executioner who murdered Alice took the head, still dripping blood, and waved it all around the stage, the fans sang along with “I Love The Dead.” I was ready to grieve for poor Alice when he reappeared healthy and robust for a stunning series of songs, one harder than the next, putting the special effects into context. After all, this was, first and foremost, a rock ’n’ roll show, and this band proved its metal on song after song.

Most impressive was Orianthi, the Australian Greek Goddess of Hard Rock Guitar who had the unfortunate luck of Michael Jackson dying before his This Is It tour would’ve endeared her to millions. She’s a veritable non-stop super hero action figure whose chops were as complex and deeply felt as her stage presence. She added grace, sex appeal and excitement to an already loaded show. Drummer Glen Sobel had been forced off the tour with a neck injury so replacement Jonathan Mover filled in admirably. Mover, who’s played with Joe Satriani, kept it booming and even had an elongated drum’n’bass solo spot with Chuck Garric. Guitarists Tommy Henriksen and Ryan Roxie gave the sound its daring muscle. And what sound it was! This Sands venue is a gorgeous facility with its high ends not painful and its low ends felt deep in the gut. Alice’s vocals, unusually strong on this night, were properly sneering, adding a Machiavellian directive to this obviously smitten crowd. Yeah, these were some hardcore Alice Cooper fans here on this night and there was no sitting down for the full 90 minutes, evening during the one ballad, “Only Women Bleed.”

During “Wicked Young Man,” a photographer jumped on stage in an effort to get a close-up of the 64-year old legend. Alice wound up stabbing him to death with a huge sword that went in one side of his body and came out of the other. It was a pure pro wrestling type of moment and all the more delicious as the guitars rumbled and raved.

The encore was, as expected, “Elected,” fitting in this election year, and featuring faux candidates “Obama” and “Romney.” Not expected was a nifty segue from “School’s Out” to Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick In The Wall, Part #2.” Highlight? Tough one but I’m partial to “Under My Wheels.” To hear Alice Cooper belt out that opening “the telephone is ringing” line and then to have those three guitarists bash and crash their way through one of the greatest hard rock songs of all time couldn’t be beat. I would’ve loved to have heard “Be My Lover” but you can’t always get what you want. At least I won $80 throwin’ the bones after the show.

Here are the rest of Alice’s tour dates:
July 08 – Quebec, QC – Colisee Pepsi Arena
July 11 – Montreal, QC – Centre Bell
July 13 – Toronto, ON – Molson Amphitheatre
July 14 – Sarnia, ON – Bayfest
July 16 – Darien Lake, NY – Performing Arts Center
July 18 – Clarkston, MI – DTE Energy Music
July 19 – Indianapolis, IN – Klipsch Music Center
July 21 – Cadott, WI – Rockfest
July 27 – Tienen, Belgium – Suikerock
July 28 – Seebron, Germany – Rock of Ages Festival
July 30 – Milan, Italy – Arena Civica
August 01 – Monte Carlo, Monaco – The Sporting Club
August 02 – Carcassone, France – Festival Des 2 Cities
August 03 – Avenches, Switzerland – Rock Oz’Arenes Festival
August 05 – Bad Doberan, Germany – Zappanale Festival
August 07 – Langesund, Norway – Whrigtegaarden
August 08 – Gothenburg, Sweden – Liseberg
August 10 – Rejmyre, Sweden – Skogsrojet
August 12 – Walton-on-Trent, England – Bloodstock Festival