All things metal were brought out in massive quantities during Alice Cooper and Iron Maiden on Saturday: Satan, blood, guitar shredding, fire, more Satan and, ummm…puppets, very satanic puppets.
Review by David Feltman
If such a thing as too much metal in one sitting exists, then the Alice Cooper/Iron Maiden show was it. All things metal were brought out in massive quantities: Satan, blood, guitar shredding, fire, more Satan and, ummm…puppets, very satanic puppets. By the time the whole thing was over, I felt like Eddie had trampled me.
Sadly, this was partially due to the woeful disorganization of the event. Large crowds of concertgoers were piled up at odd intervals around the gates of the amphitheater with no real clue as to where they should be. Event staff kept promising to send someone out to explain what to do, but that person never materialized. Members of the Iron Maiden fan club lucky enough to secure “First to the Barricade” passes were herded from one area to another with a six-car-pileup efficiency. By the time most fans had reached their seats, they had been standing in the heat for two hours and still had to wait a couple of hours more for the show to start. All things considered, however, the show made it well worth suffering through the general ass-backwardry of the event planning.
One might expect an aging artist, especially one opening for a larger act, to just phone it in. But the 64-year-old Alice Cooper demonstrated that his 40 years of performing have not diminished any of his zeal. If anything, time has only honed Cooper’s stage act to razor-sharp perfection. There was no bullshit and no filler, only 100% spectacle, rock and showmanship. Cooper ran down all of his hits with clockwork precision and pulled out loads of surprises without ever slowing down. These surprises included showering the audience with feathers and balloons, a stage hand spitting blood on the crowd (blood that came from Cooper’s own decapitated head), skewering a photographer with a mic stand and fulfilling my own personal “Wayne’s World” wish by bringing out an over-sized Frankenstein’s monster puppet. If Alice Cooper hadn’t made it as a musician, he would’ve made a phenomenal late night cable-access horror host.
Sure, everything was schlocky and gimmicky and way over the top, but that inherent metal cheesiness only heightened the experience. I can’t ever remember genuinely gasping and giggling at any other concert like I did for Cooper’s set. Cooper never broke character, keeping an air of aristocratic disgust the entire time. And, while the stage antics were front and center during the set, Cooper was careful not to let it outshine the music. The songs were carefully selected so that even the ones that weren’t instantly recognizable were entirely familiar. Each song seemed to have its own little sketch attached, but between be-headings, Australian guitar goddess Orianthi would shred out a segway; never a beat missed in the tight set. Cooper wrapped it up in under an hour, but the total experience felt double or triple that.
If Cooper was the late night horror host of the night, then Iron Maiden was the creature feature he was hosting. Maiden dressed its set in a faux ice age motif with murals of various Eddies etched into the ice. Even the monitors and amps were painted to look like blocks of ice. Rumor had it that Maiden was bringing along all of the best Eddies, but this mostly translated into large banners containing various Eddie artwork which were brought out in rotation depending on the song. When “The Trooper” started, the trooper Eddie banner was pulled across the backdrop, and when the band played “Can I Play with Madness,” the corresponding Eddie banner rolled out. This gradually escalated throughout the set as Iron Maiden answered Cooper’s giant Frankenstein puppet with a giant colonial Eddie puppet, and then moved on to massive stage-engulfing Eddie set pieces.
Everything about the set felt like watching an old Vincent Price movie including pyrotechnics, fireworks, enormous demon candles, pipe organs, monsters, hasty costume changes and even actual Vincent Price voice-overs. Bruce Dickinson and his band mates were anything but stingy with their fans. The band pulled no punches on stage leaping and lurching and flinging instruments. Dickinson constantly jumped and spun like some meth-addled monkey addicted to screams and applause. When it came time to play an encore, the band didn’t just shoot through one or two more favorites, they played three full-on Iron Maiden-sized songs, which made for about 20 more minutes on stage. By that time, I had completely overdosed on metal and needed a nap.
I would have never personally put Alice Cooper and Iron Maiden together in my mind, but now I can’t imagine a more perfect billing. These two classic metal stage acts go together like bats and Ozzy. Even if you happen to be a die-hard fan that has seen either or both of these acts multiple times, nothing can really equate to seeing them so lovingly gift-wrapped together. The tour still has some more dates on the roster, so I strongly recommend catching this show while you can. This is a concert experience must for any metal fiend.