Ventura Theater; Ventura, CA; 09/17/00
Universal Amphitheater; Universal City, CA; 09/20/00

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton (Click here to read Snidermann's review)

Call Alice Cooper the Rock'n'Roll Renaissance Man. Even if his popularity isn't what it was back in the "Welcome to My Nightmare" days, it's still very, very strong - and Alice is experiencing a burst in creativity and charisma that's produced not only one of the best hard rock CD's of the year ("Brutal Planet" - click here for our reviews) - but one of the year's most entertaining and - dammit, yes   - musically satisfying shows on the road.

With former KISS drummer Eric Singer on the drums behind him and a touring band that is nothing short of incredible, Alice took the stage both evenings (that's right - we went to two shows in one week) with a blistering rendition of the latest CD's title cut. "Brutal Planet" was meant to be played live and it was an explosive opener for a two-hour rock'n'roll show that left only a little stone unturned. ("Welcome to My Nightmare" is apparently not on this tour's set list and it was missed).

Cooper and band ripped through seven, count 'em, seven tunes from "Brutal Planet" with "Pick Up the Bones" being a favorite of both nights. In addition, he played many of his most popular hit records, many of which have matured into truly classic icon tunes. "Go To Hell" was particularly fiery and "Dead Babies" received a resounding audience response. The rarely played-live "It's Hot Tonight" and "Caught in a Dream" were much appreciated by the obviously Cooper-fan-heavy crowds. "Poison" was also very well-received. At the Amphitheater show, the audience didn't sit down all night. They stood, fists pumping, and sang most of the lyrics along with Cooper. The same might have happened at the Ventura Theater except for some elitist seating arrangements, which required those in the pit to pay nearly double what those in the back paid. At one point in Ventura, Alice pointed to the half-empty pit and asked, "What's wrong with this part of the stage?" Apparently, he didn't know the theater had been sectioned off dollar-wise and was being strictly policed.

In typical Alice Cooper fashion, the concert was a true show, as well. The evening opened with a bizarre techno-creature begging the audience to leave now, before the "megalomaniac Alice Cooper" arrived (nobody left). The stage was a desolated post-nuclear waste littered with broken bones, rotting corpses and wrecked cars. At one point, Alice embattles a vixen in skin-tight leather, a nurse with violent tendencies and an executioner and his guillotine.

The show closes with a bang - an encore of "Billion Dollar Babies," "Under My Wheels" and "Elected" (complete with cameos by Bill, Hillary and apparently twin George W. Bushes).

If you've never seen Alice Cooper live, this is the show to see. If you think you've seen Alice Cooper live, go see this show again. "He's not getting older, he's getting better." Never has that phrase been truer.

In the second position at the Universal Amphitheater show, strangely enough, was THE KNACK featuring Doug Fieger et al. At first, it seemed that this band was badly placed between fresh, young hard-rockers The Donnas and veteran rock superstar Alice Cooper. However, the audience was very receptive to the band, who opened with a somewhat cautious version of "Pop Is Dead" from "Zoom" but who caught their collective breath in time to deliver a rousing, foot-thumping rendition of "My Sharona." (If you can resist that song, you must be dead.)

The Donnas opened at both the Ventura Theater and the Universal Amphitheater show and they rocked solidly. Harder-edged than one might expect of all-female rock bands, The Donnas were tight and effective, despite the fact that most of the audience probably hadn't heard their music before. A cover of "Livin' After Midnight" and the original song "Doin' Donuts" seemed to register the greatest audience response. I expect that the Donnas' popularity will increase dramatically after their tour with Alice Cooper. They are a solid band who deserve the recognition. 

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Copyright 2000 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 23 Aug 2016 22:57:16 -0400.