Tuesday night in “Brum” (“Birmingham” to foreigners) at the Barclaycard arena and the packed crowd was in for a treat. But before we get to the festivities let’s take a moment to “set the stage”.
Throughout the history of rock, it is often found that the “power of the team” outperforms the creative genius of the individual alone. Obviously, Lennon / McCartney, Jagger / Richards, Elton / Taupin and Bowie / Ronson come to mind. The Alice Cooper group was a unit of five individual artists, each contributing to varying degrees to their collective creative output. Though this is true, it is also celebrated that the creative writing tandem of Alice Cooper & Michael Bruce were the group’s creative writing pair.
Last night’s high energy show by the Alice Cooper group truly highlighted Michael Bruce’s skills – as a songwriter, as a performing musician and as a mentor.
Ryan Roxie has the monumental challenge of performing both with Alice’s touring group and with the Alice Cooper group during their reunion set AND filling the shoes of legendary guitarist Glen Buxton. Ryan Roxie is a flamboyant and talented gem of a live performer. But at last night’s show I noted some finer qualities… Ryan deftly demonstrated when to step into the spotlight and more importantly, when to stay in the shadows. I also noticed a very close connection between Michael and Ryan, supporting each other to bring forward excellence, while giving off the devilish grin or leaning in on each other. And away from the stage, these two clearly share a bond.
Last night’s set list included the 1973 hit “No More Mister Nice Guy”… a classic track for which Michael has received a BMI songwriter’s award. Layer over Michael’s music is Alice’s lyrical sardonic, tongue-in-cheek commentary on the press and general public who did not “get” what the Alice Cooper phenomenon was all about. And behold a real crowd-pleaser that had the Brum crowd on their feet and singing along.
Always a big part of the Alice Cooper show are the outfits. Back in the day, Cindy Smith Dunaway was the group’s den mother and dancing tooth… but most importantly, she was the visionary designer of the glam rock aesthetic. Her work influenced the look of the rock star that came afterwards. Last night, Cindy’s glamorous regalia was on full display in the jacket worn by husband, Dennis Dunaway – a thrift store red jacket reclaimed and retrofitted with spider webbing, hand-made silver spiders and large crystal spider extracted from a Hallowe’en table runner.
The Brum crowd simply got the best of Alice Cooper… classic hits, an unforgettable stage show and the triumphant display of the glam aesthetic while its original designer retrieved tossed guitar picks for the band’s adoring fans.