–by Sean Derrick
It’s October, so what better way to celebrate another birthday for local legend KSHE-95 than to bring in the king of shock, Alice Cooper, to help celebrate. That is exactly what happened Saturday night at Saint Louis Music Park.
By all senses of the imagination both KSHE-95 and Alice Cooper are anomalies. KSHE is the longest continuing rock/AOR radio station in the world, 54 years, defying the dreaded format change that has consumed so many other rock stations of the years. While Alice Cooper has been going strong since he released his first album in the summer of 1969 (51 years for those of you mathematically challenged).
Cooper just released his twenty first studio album this year, Detroit Stories, and shows no signs of slowing down. Saturday’s show in Saint Louis proved just how much that is a fact.
The evening started off with a bang with Ace Frehley reminiscing the crowd (those who were able to get in, that is, Many were not able to witness his set due to parking issues at the venue) with a plethora of KISS favorites, most notably “Detroit Rock City”, “Duece”, and “Cold Gin”.
He performed a 7 minute guitar solo that also took riffs from songs like the James Bond Theme, the Beatles’ “Drive My Car”, “La Grange” from ZZ Top, and “Eruption” from Van Halen. He topped it off with his signature playing with a pickup “on fire”. I was hoping to hear something from his Frehley’s Comet days, but it was still a great show. Space Ace still has the chops.
Ever the showman, Cooper, performed his usual high theatrical performance. Not that that is a bad thing. On the contrary a solid show night in a night out is a wonderful thing when the fans know what is coming. If something is missing or changed Cooper’s fans will let him know, yes they are that kind of rabid. So, it was good news to report that the show had everything a great Alice Cooper show needs: blood, knives, skulls, giant babies, a giant Frankenstein, more giant babies, more blood, and of course a full scale guillotine which “severs” the head of Cooper to the roar of approval from the fans.
Cooper’s band (led by a three guitar attack by Ryan Roxie, Tommy Henricksen, and Nita Strauss, bassist Chuck Garric, and drummer Glen Sobel) were very tight through the entire show, descriptive of a veteran band in-sync with each other.
Even though this is Cooper’s band he recognizes the importance of the band members, giving each a moment to shine during “Black Widow Jam”
Highlights were plentiful: from “No More Mr. Nice Guy”, to “Billion Dollar Babies”, to “School’s Out” and “Black Widow Jam”. The theatrics were sharp on the multi level stage that resembled a castle.
The only drawback was at the start of the show where the smoke literally overpowered the show. having seen an Alice Cooper show over a half dozen times I wanted to make sure I got a cool shot of the large Frankenstein during “Feed My Frankenstein”, but he as mostly obscured by the smoke. Hell, I couldn’t even see Sobel to get a shot of him.
I get it, the smoke helps with the light show. But a little goes a long way, especially if you want to actually see the characters perform. It did dissipate after the first handful of songs, thankfully to a more reasonable level, where one could enjoy the theatrics without having to be distracted by an overabundance of smoke. Still, a great birthday party for the KSHE 95, smoke or no smoke.
Be sure to check out the gallery of photos after the setlists below.
Ace Frehley Setlist:
Rip It Out
Never in My Life (Mountain cover)
Good Times Bad Times (Led Zeppelin cover)
Detroit Rock City
New York Groove (Russ Ballard cover)
Cold Gin/Black Diamond
Alice Cooper setlist:
Feed My Frankenstein
No More, Mr. Nice Guy
Bed of Nails
Rock and Roll (The Velvet Underground cover)
Fallen in Love
Go Man Go
Under My Wheels
He’s Back (The Man behind the Mask)
Billion Dollar Babies
Nita Strauss guitar solo
Roses on White Laces
Black Widow Jam
I Love the Dead