Alice Cooper‘s vindication was short-lived.
The singer born Vincent Damon Furnier survived all sorts of peril on Thursday at Dallas’ Dos Equis Pavilion during the opening night of his Freaks on Parade co-headlining tour with Rob Zombie. Cooper handled a venomous snake with ease, outsmarted a towering Frankenstein and gritted his teeth as a guard electrocuted him. He no sooner broke free of his straitjacket than he was stuffed into a guillotine and decapitated with relish by Marie Antoideath, played by his wife, Sheryl Cooper.
Luckily, Cooper has gotten the act of nightly death and resurrection down to a science after more than half a century at the cutting edge of rock ‘n’ roll theater — though if he keeps shooting his mouth off about trans kids, maybe a few real-life whacks would serve him well.
Cooper’s dynamite 70-minute performance — a truncated version of his Too Close for Comfort headlining set — neatly blended old favorites (“I’m Eighteen,” “No More Mr. Nice Guy”) and midcareer deep cuts. The show opened with “Lock Me Up” off 1986’s Raise Your Fist and Yell, and Cooper hit a great mid-set run of early-’90s gems: “Hey Stoopid,” “Lost in America” and “Snakebite.”
As always, his band rocked to near perfection without ever sounding contrived. Guitarists Ryan Roxie, Tommy Henriksen and Nita Strauss‘ triple-lead attack washed over the audience like a tidal wave, and they partnered with bassist Chuck Garric to deliver expert four-part backing vocals.
Thursday’s show also confirmed beyond a shadow of a doubt that Strauss is one of her generation’s premier guitar heroes. Fresh off a 2022 stint touring with Demi Lovato, Strauss wooed the audience with a solo spot full of tapping, sweep-picking and whammy bar squeals, and she dashed across the stage with boundless energy and enthusiasm. Her chops and stage presence make her a crucial part of Cooper’s live band, and the audience exploded with applause when the shock-rocker introduced her during the show-closing “School’s Out.”
While Cooper’s set was satirical and vaudevillian, Zombie’s went for sheer maximalism, a smorgasbord of scorching flames, life-size demon babies and swiveling devil statues. The bell-bottom-clad singer shook his ass and banged his dreadlocks across the stage as the band churned an industrial metal storm fit for a BDSM club in the center of hell.
At times, the combination of droning dirges and horror movie imagery was almost oppressively heavy. But when Zombie struck the perfect blend of raunchiness and grotesquerie, as on “Superbeast” and “Living Dead Girl,” it felt dangerous and devilishly fun.
When guitarist Mike Riggs encountered technical difficulties ahead of “Thunder Kiss ’65,” Zombie stalled by having the audience wave their lit cellphones back and forth. “It almost feels like there’s a breeze,” he sneered, “but there’s not. There’s just hot sweat everywhere.”
Zombie’s sweltering pyrotechnics were a mere facsimile of the 106-degree heat that plagued opening acts Filter and Ministry. Both rose to the unenviable occasion and warmed up the crowd, figuratively and literally. Richard Patrick’s tuneful roar led Filter through muscular renditions of requisite hits “Take a Picture” and “Hey Man Nice Shot,” while Ministry’s dreadlocked provocateur Al Jourgensen whipped the crowd into a frenzy and coaxed the sun below the horizon with the blistering “Stigmata” and set-closing “Revenge,” performed for the first time since 1984.
The Freaks on Parade Tour barrels through the United States for the next month, wrapping on Sept. 24 in Phoenix. You can see set lists and exclusive photos from opening night below.
Alice Cooper, 8/24/23, Dos Equis Pavillion, Dallas
1. “Lock Me Up”
2. “No More Mr. Nice Guy”
3. “I’m Eighteen”
4. “Under My Wheels”
5. “Billion Dollar Babies”
7. “Lost in America”
8. “Hey Stoopid”
10. “Feed My Frankenstein”
11. “Devil’s Food” / Nita Strauss guitar solo
12. “Black Widow” jam
13. “Ballad of Dwight Fry”
14. “Killer” (band only)
15. “I Love the Dead”
17. “School’s Out” (with “Another Brick in the Wall”)
Rob Zombie, 8/24/23, Dos Equis Pavillion, Dallas
1. “The Triumph of King Freak (A Crypt of Preservation and Superstition)”
2. “Feel So Numb”
3. “Well, Everybody’s Fucking in a U.F.O.”
4. “What Lurks on Channel X?”
6. “Demonoid Phenomenon”
7. Drum solo
8. “The Lords of Salem”
9. “House of 1000 Corpses”
10. “More Human Than Human”
11. “Living Dead Girl”
12. “Thunder Kiss ’65”
Alice Cooper and Rob Zombie, Freaks on Parade Tour Kickoff
Shock-rock titans kicked off co-headining trek in Dallas with Ministry and Filter.