Listen To This Eddie is a weekly column that examines the important people and events in the classic rock canon and how they continue to impact the world of popular music.
Long before Travis Scott had ’em “stage diving out the nosebleeds.” Long before Drake deployed flying Lamborghinis and synchronized drones on his Aubrey And The Three Migos tour. Long before Kendrick Lamar battled ninjas onstage during his DAMN tour. Long before Kanye West wore custom jeweled Margiela masks and mounted ice volcanos on the Yeezus tour.
Long before anyone really considered what it meant to bring spectacle to a live concert, there was Alice Cooper. With his ominous array of boa constrictors, guillotines, gallons of fake blood, inflatable set pieces, and signature black face paint, the horror rock icon helped define the very concept of a concert as something more than just a way to watch your favorite performer play your favorite songs at hazardous volume. He made the experience into a real show. Something you’d tell your friends about for weeks after it happened. Something you’d never forget as long as you lived. Something that’d haunt your dreams.
For 50 years and more, Alice has been terrifying crowds across the globe with an ever-evolving backing group of world class musicians. I personally saw him for the first time live a few years back opening for Mötley Crüe on their farewell tour, and I can say with 100% conviction that he blew the headliners off the stage. No amount of flamethrowers or ridiculous upside-down rollercoaster drum kits could compete with the opener’s obvious charisma and dedication to being Alice F*cking Cooper. Sorry, Tommy Lee. Can the giant, lumbering Frankenstein’s monsters and electric chairs and become a little camp? Yeah, of course. But you still wouldn’t wanna cross the man screaming bloody murder in the straight-jacket. Also, with all due respect to “Kickstart My Heart” or “Girls, Girls, Girls,” the Crüe never wrote an anthem half as menacing or primal as “I’m Eighteen.”