rockford illinois entertainment guide
Date: 07/27/2004
Alice Cooper holds court at Beloit Riverfest
by Lisa Palmeno
School might be "out forever," but the Godfather of Goth is still definitely "in." Alice Cooper kicked off the first show of his American tour at Beloit Riverfest Friday, July 9. In attendance were original hard rock fans and a whole new generation of faithful followers, clad in the Halloweenish black leather regalia that earned Cooper's theatrics world recognition nearly 40 years ago. Parents assembled onto Riverfest grounds with their kids, youths who had donned Alice Cooper apparel themselves. Their homage to previous tours is a sure sign that the rocker hasn't lost his magic touch.

Cooper's popularity has lasted nearly four decades and is rapidly gaining renewed appeal with his nightly radio show aptly named "Welcome To Your Night Man." The production airs from 7 p.m. to midnight on WIBA FM 101.5, the Madison, Wis. station that brought him to Riverfest. He also told the crowd his drummer was from Beloit. It looks like Wisconsin is getting a heavy dose of metal these days.

The veteran rock god shared old favorites as well as picks from the latest CDs and the soon-to-be-released The Eyes of Alice Cooper. In a punk-flavored tune, he asserts "I'm stuck somewhere between high school and old school," lyrics that pretty much sum up his creepily flambuoyant persona. He came to the stage armed with an arsenal of eerie props he's famous for: A sword he used fairly regularly throughout the show; a whip; miniature dolls he threw into the crowd during "Billion Dollar Babies"; a crutch; and a blow-up doll he kicked during the misogynistic "Everything's My Way."

Halfway through the set, the light effects began, with flashing green, yellow and blue setting the scene for gloom and doom as he headed in toward more psychedelic and heavier offerings. The rock opera portion of the show ensued, replete with the "obligatory babe", sporting a black cape, boots and fan.

After the woman abuse scene, the stage went dark. Alice emerged with an answer for the pain and suffering at the hands of men who "drink, smoke and lie" with "Only Women Bleed." The "abused" then stuck Cooper in a straight jacket as just reward. What kind of a woman would enact such a horrific scene? None other than Alice's daughter Paula Cooper played the martyr. When introducing the players, her dad joked, "Kids! I don't know where they get it." Taking her with on the road is one way to make sure you know where your daughter is at all times!

In his tradition, the grandmaster of ceremonies brought out his pet snake ("my pets, my playthings"), and zealously screamed standards "I'm Eighteen" and "School's Out," during which giant balloons filled with confetti were tossed into to the crowd.

The concert's major highlight was a Chinese-style drum trio. Both guitarists put down their axes and stood on the sides of the massive drum kit, playing in perfect unison, after which the hometown boy blew everyone away with his own drum solo. This was a natural for Guitarist Eric Dover, who carries a drum endorsement from PEACE Drums and Percussion.

A naturally-electrifying light show began to accompany the light show on stage as they moved into the finale. Lightning hid behind clouds, exposing blueish-gray splotches in the sky that were a creepy complement to Alice's evil machinations as he bid everyone goodnight. Sweet dreams, everyone.

*Special Note - Attempts to uncover the Beloit drummer's name were unfruitful. Sources asked: Visits to Alice's website; websites about Alice Cooper's drummers; Riverfest literature; a Wisconsin on-line entertainment guide owner; musician listings; and a call to WIBA Program Manager Mike Ferris. I think it was Tommy G something. If anyone has that information, please feel free to call me at 815-962-8201.
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