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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Alice Cooper plus Ace Frehley live at DTE (Pine Knob) Energy Music Theatre, Clarkston, MI

Alice Cooper plus Ace Frehley live at DTE (Pine Knob) Energy Music Theatre, Clarkston, MI
Saturday August 27th, 2011

OK, so seriously, what would you expect the show to be like at Alice Cooper’s return to a big stage show in Detroit?
It was the man's tour, in support of his upcoming album, the second installment of 'Welcome 2 My Nightmare.'

It’s been a few years now since he played his annual gig at the Michigan State Fair, since that stopped in Detroit and moved back to Lansing and Ace Frehley too?
Well, with the Kiss links with Detroit and on the big stage as special guest to Alice …?!
I have to tell you, this was seriously one of the best gigs I have been to in a long time and I cannot say that enough!
(Def) Leppard and Heart the previous week was very good indeed, but this just felt ‘special!’
Was it that the venue was way more packed than any show I’d been to in a while – I know, it’s only my third show of the summer. I’m a slacker this year! – or the two particular acts presented before us this night?
Alice had kept the ticket price down, $40 for good pavilion seats, to a show featuring these two acts … Now that was good!
Def Leppard / Heart tickets in the same pavilion location had been $130! We’d paid $80 apiece for ours, when the venue put them on sale for two days, at a discounted rate.
Anyway, enough about all that, when we arrived the car parks / parking lots were already packed, so we were guided to park way at the back, up on a hill in the overflow parking area. It was going to be a sold out show, no question!
The line up’s to get in the turnstiles were insane, long and slow, again, probably due to keeping the ticket price down, Alice guaranteed a full house!

When we finally got in, Ace had already hit the stage and I understand, we’d missed ‘Rocket Ride’ and ‘Parasite!’ Rats!
He was playing ‘Sister’ from latest album ‘Anomaly,’ not a great song for me, but sounded pretty tight nonetheless.
Ace Frehley live at DTE (Pine Knob) Energy Music Theatre, Clarkston, MI.
Photo by Alun Williams

Then it was the start of – For us – a seriously great evening’s entertainment as ‘Snow Blind’ from Ace’s first solo record kicks in and then some Kiss in ‘I Want You!’ Oh yeah Ace, this is good!
I was lucky enough back in the 80’s to be present at his Hammersmith Odeon back in 1988, with Frehley’s Comet and if you have the video … Ha ha! I was in the third row, bang in the middle with an old mate, Simon King who put simply, was the biggest - Without question – Kiss fan, I or any of my mates had ever known, still to this day to me!
Yes Dave T., that includes you too mate!
Anyway, we get ‘Rock Soldiers’ next tonight from that period and I love it!
Ace’s drummer even got to have his snare drum replaced mid-song! Good, quick change. What a great crew!
You know, Ace and his band – who are really strong, oh yeah, working well for him! – had not much stage space, but they really made the most of it! Full ‘Anomaly’ backdrop and a backline covering the stage left to right looking good …
Ace Frehley live in Michigan August 27th, 2011. Photo by Alun Williams

   Next up, who’d expect ‘Love Her All I Can’ before ‘New York Groove’ which of course Ace shared the re-titled song for the evening as ‘Back in the Detroit Groove!’
Then what about this for a killer barrage for you, ‘Detroit Rock City,’ ‘Shock Me,’ then Ace takes his solo spot, which of course includes the smokin’ pick up’s stage act too, the crowd is loving every bit of this!
Then he wrap up the set with …, get this, ‘Shout It Out Loud,’ ‘Love Gun’ and oh yeah, set closer, ‘Cold Gin!’

Ace Frehley photo by Alun Williams

Thanks Ace to you and your great band, here’s to you returning again soon!

  Alice Cooper, WOW! What can I say, how old is this guy, 63? Are you kidding me?! He’s still got, as good as ever!
Alice Cooper live at DTE (Pine Knob) - Photo by Alun Williams

What a showman, great set, mixing up everything from over forty something years of playing, opening with ‘The Black Widow’ from 1975 and Alice is atop a platform dressed in an outfit with extra arms and pyrotechnics going off at the end of each, it’s just a brilliant entrance and the band is rocking!
Alice Cooper live in Michigan August 2011 - Photo: Alun Williams

He comes down on stage to sing ‘Brutal Planet’ from the album of the same name from 2000, where Alice went for a seriously heavier edge to his sound and he dispenses with his cane into the crowd, before giving us ‘I’m Eighteen.’
The crowd is ecstatic as Alice is just fantastic and appreciating his audience throughout!
He really does have a killer band behind him, which includes Steve Hunter from Alice’s early days, longstay bassist Chuck Garric, killer drummer Glen Sobel who’s played with a host of acts and it shows! Great stuff!
As well as Steve Hunter on guitar, he also has the talents of Tommy Henriksen and Damon Johnson, who in fact has just this week been announced as Thin Lizzy’s new guitarist for their upcoming tour with Judas Priest in The Fall here in the US.
   The double whammy of ‘Under My Wheels’ and ‘Billion Dollar Babies’ has the whole crowd singing along as Alice passes out his own billion dollar bills from his fencing sword, much to the delight of those in the front couple of rows.
 The Alice Cooper band live at DTE August 27th, 2011 - Photo: Alun Williams 
The classics continue with ‘No More Mr Nice Guy,’ then ‘Hey Stoopid,’ ‘Is It My Body,’ before ‘Halo of Flies,’ and bassist Garric and drummer Sobel are left on stage doing their own thing and the drum solo from Sobel .. Just bloody great!
The band returns and Alice of course, goes through his attire changes all night, but this is great, the band has started jamming a tune, that perhaps doesn’t sound too familiar and then Alice, without saying a word, explains why …
He turns his back on us with two large words on the back of his jacket, ‘NEW SONG!’ Too funny Coop!
He then loses the jacket, to reveal a bloodied dress type white shirt, that has the song title on the back, of his latest released song, ’I’ll Bite Your Face Off.’ Go check it out on You Tube 

From the album of the same name, ‘Muscle of Love’ next before taking things down for ‘Only Women Bleed’ and he’s got his stage prop of a cloth doll mannequin and he starts roughing the doll up a little, before then moving onto ‘Cold Ethel,’ where the doll gets the serious rough treatment and enough said about the song title …!!!
The guy is the ultimate showman, what else can we say?!
Dr. Alice Cooper I presume?! Photo: Alun Williams

Alice then dons a white doctors coat in the darkness as the intro tape rolls with ‘Yes, yes, I know you’re hungry … Ah and here comes dinner ..’ Cue ‘Feed My Frankenstein’ It absolutely rocks the place as the band rip things up, then in the middle Alice wanders centre stage to a stage prop of a big old power substation or similar and BOOM! There’s a huge effigy ala say ‘Eddie’ in Iron Maiden’s set, but this is a huge Frankenstein monster towering high above the bands and I believe Alice is inside, possibly, as he paces back and forward across the stage, taking swipes at band members. Great stuff, total entertainment!
'The - Alice Cooper -  Monster!' - Photo: Alun Williams 

Next it’s ‘Clones,’ from 1980’s ‘Flush the Fashion’ album which seems to please a great number of the crowd to show the odd rarity is enjoyed just as much as the classics.
The guitarists are all wearing replica masks to plays the role appropriately!
‘Poison’ next and my only gripe of the evening is that as strong as the band has been all night, great playing, strong backing vocals, etc, but here where it really needs those strong backup vocals, they’re not coming through?
Did the sound engineer have a funny five minutes or something?!
Another surprise perhaps with ‘Wicked Young Man’ from the ‘Brutal Planet’ album and Alice is assuming a young brat like character and next thing the guillotine is rolled out and yes, it’s the ‘off with the head’ time!
Alice gets bundled and roughed up by the two hooded fiends that are onstage and head placed in the guillotine and off it’s chopped …! Isn’t it?!
Alice faces the guillotine! - Photo: Alun Williams

The band plays on, in darkly lit stage, chanting, ‘I Love The Dead’ but then all change and they launch into ‘Schools Out’ and out comes Alice giving his best as he has all night and then mid-song, the crew bring out huge balloons filled with confetti and Alice announces, ‘It’s party time!’
Alice and the band then cleverly blend the song into Pink Floyd’s ‘Another Brick in the Wall,’ very clever and the crowd is up on its highest high it seems of the night!
So off they go but not for long …. Back they come to the sound of ‘Elected’ and Alice comes out holding the American flag, big old top hat with stars and stripes on too and they have totally impressed us all on a very special night.
The confetti flies out from above over the crowd ala Kiss, ‘Rock and Roll All Nite’ and it’s just so much fun!
Alice introduces his band members and that’s it, it’s all over but wow, what a fantastic night.
Alice, let’s do this again very soon, you really are a ‘living legend in your time,’ as AC/DC once sang and yes, perhaps you should be, ‘Elected!’ Thanks to both Alice Cooper and Ace Frehley both great bands for an absolutely great night!
Rating: 5 out of 5
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