Rock legend Alice Cooper stalked and prowled the stage for roughly two hours on Sunday, May 14, 2017 at the TPAC in Nashville, Tennessee. While there, he roughed up two of his female assistants as he acted out their nightmarish murder in Music City. It’s safe to say the man formerly known as Vincent Damon Furnier appeared to have some issues but it was all in good fun and not nearly as horrific as you might think.
In addition to the usual antics that accompany an Alice Cooper concert – the slippery snake, the naughty nurse and the garish guillotine – the frontman had an extra special trick up his sleeve for this occasion. Original Alice Cooper band players Dennis Dunaway, drummer Neal Smith and guitarist Michael Bruce joined the shock-rock performer for the only date on the 2017 Spend the Night with Alice Cooper USA tour where fans could experience a special mini-set featuring the four original members of the group who were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011.
The surprise reunion took place at the end of the main show with a frantic run through of the classics “I’m Eighteen”, “Billion Dollar Babies”, “No More Mr. Nice Guy” and “Muscle of Love” that proved the old band still has the ability to produce that muscular billion dollar sound that put them on the map way back when. In a sense, this was Alice’s way of giving a ghoulish gift to the region that has been good to him in recent years.
“We’ve recorded much of my last album and my new one in Nashville and it’s such a great music town,” said Cooper in advance of the TPAC date. “With so many musician, songwriter and producer friends here, as well as great rock fans who come to our concerts, it’s special to be performing with Neal, Michael and Dennis in Nashville for them.”
For an artist who made a noteworthy return to following the tenets of Christianity as a means of overcoming substance abuse problems, Cooper’s sets are still stuffed with plenty of demonic and twisted songs sure to please the darkest of souls. Early encounters with “Brutal Planet”, “Lost In America”, “Pain”, “Halo of Flies” and “Woman of Mass Distraction” set the torrid pace of the evilly engaging engagement. Horror, doom and misogynistic anthems filled the packed to capacity Andrew Jackson Hall at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center all to the delight of Alice’s devout and fervent followers.
Standout players in Cooper’s touring band on this night were the sexy Nita Strauss on guitar and the always steady Glen Sobel with the sticks. Strauss became only the second female axe player in the group following the curious 2014 departure of Orianthi. Nita’s form fitting “Stay Humble or Be Humbled” T-shirt implied she was appreciative of the job that she was well-equipped to handle. Sobel was solid on the kit all night before proceeding to give one of the most memorable and skilled drum solos we’ve ever witnessed.
One of the best receptions of the night was saved for the always potent “Poison”. The song was one of Alice’s biggest chart-topping hits in the United States and it helped the overly mascaraed musician find new life and land a comeback when his image was projected into the homes of millions of Americans in the heyday of MTV. The track co-written by Cooper, Desmond Child and John McCurry still sounded fresh as it infused a dose of 80’s energetic rock throughout the three-tiered theater.
In 2017 this metropolis in Mid-Tenn continues to be the “it” city as it remains the home of country music, hallowed hot chicken and a beloved NHL hockey team now in the fight of their lives in the Stanley Cup playoffs against the dirty and degenerate Ducks of Anaheim. So, you can’t blame the rocker for jumping on the bandwagon when for his last act of the night he emerged during the encore of “School’s Out” sporting a brand-new Nashville Predators jersey emblazoned with “Cooper 18” on the back. Both bands combined on stage for one more lesson in theatrical rock before the crowd was dismissed back into the hot May night in Music City.
The TPAC is located in the James K. Polk Cultural Center at 505 Deaderick Street in downtown Nashville, occupying an entire city block between 5th and 6th Avenues and Deaderick and Union Streets. The venue has three distinct halls along with the free Tennessee State Museum. The TPAC will be hosting a whole season of events and Broadway productions with the next being Beautiful – The Carole King Musical (May 23-May 28) in addition to more musical icons such as Joe Jackson on June 14.