Alice Cooper and Marilyn Manson at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, 6/3/13, reviews, photos, setlists
Alice Cooper on stage at Red Rocks last night. Slide show: Alice Cooper and Marilyn Manson at Red Rocks
The moment everyone was waiting for and had to guess was coming came at the very end of the show, when Alice Cooper came back on stage for his encore. As the familiar strains of "I'm Eighteen" drew cheers from the crowd, Alice took the first verse of the song, and then Marilyn Manson came up on stage and sang the second verse before the two shared the choruses of one of Cooper's most iconic songs. One of the most memorable moments of the show, it wasn't so much a torch passing as a sign of mutual respect.
Alice Cooper closed the night out, and watching him perform, you had to ask yourself: Is Alice Cooper really 65? You sure wouldn't know it by the way he looked or by the raw enthusiasm and charisma he displayed at this show. Not only did he seem to be in a good mood, but he clearly fed off of and gave back the positive energy the crowd sent his way.
But it didn't hurt that Cooper's band was top-notch, including lead guitarist Orianthi Panagaris, who, of course, played with Michael Jackson before he died. The staging, from the lights to fog, was reminiscent of a '70s or '80s rock club. It was like Cooper and company had taken that sort of visual style and translated it for a bigger show, giving the subtle sense of being at a much more intimate performance than Red Rocks. That feeling is also one that seemed obvious from Marilyn Manson's set earlier in the evening.
In high spirits, Cooper didn't engage in too much between-song banter. Instead, he and the band treated us to seventeen of the finest songs of his career. Kicking things off with the opening cut from Billion Dollar Babies, "Hello Hooray," Cooper appeared amid a sheet of fireworks sparks raining down from the top of the stage.
After virtually every song, Cooper left the stage and came back in a different outfit, from the coat he wore for the first two songs and then shed in time for a thrilling take of "Billion Dollar Babies," to the gold or silver jacket he wore toward the end of the set, to the large top hat he donned during "Go to Hell," during which he also wielded a lion tamer's whip.
At the end of "Feed My Frankenstein," Cooper was perched on a device that simulated him being electrocuted. After sparks sprouted out of the corners and the light over him flickered and went out, Cooper disappeared, and a huge Frankenstein monster came from behind the device and prowled the stage until the song was over.
Cooper returned to the stage in a straitjacket type of outfit, with a woman playing a demonic nurse harassing him as he sang one of his best songs, "Ballad of Dwight Fry." Toward the end, he escaped the jacket and waged a battle with a couple of asylum workers, during which he tried to strangle the nurse, only to be subdued and then beheaded with a guillotine. Naturally, one of the executioners took Alice's "severed head" and prowled about the stage with it as the song went on. The song then segued directly into "I Love the Dead." Perfect.
The set ended with a rousing rendition of "School's Out," which had the audience singing along. It's hard to believe that a song a lot of us have heard our whole lives could still seem so compelling and fresh. The fact that it did is a testament to both the chemistry of the band and Cooper's undeniable natural charisma and irrepressible energy, which drove the whole show.
Continue on for a review of Marilyn Manson's set, plus setlists and a Critic's Notebook.
At the beginning of Marilyn Manson's set, the band was set up behind a semi-translucent black curtain, against which red circles of light wandered around, and you could see the shadow of Manson. During this time, a bit of modern classical music played over the speakers, and when the curtain dropped, Manson went right into "Angel With the Scabbed Wings." Manson was in especially high spirits and performed a great deal of his set down front, directly to people in the front row of the show. Like Cooper, he switched up outfits frequently, for almost every song -- if not every song.
He also hauled out his share of props, such as the podium with his logo on the front during "The Irresponsible Hate Anthem" or the giant chair upon which Manson sprawled for "mOBSCENE." The Mechanical Animals songs sounded tonally rich and melodically atmospheric, while the Antichrist Superstar songs had an aggressive quality that seemed aimed at breaking through some kind of inner psychological barrier.
During "Sweet Dreams," Manson walked on stilts and had extensions for his arms that reached to the ground, like a kind of nod to the Too Dark Park-period of Skinny Puppy tours. "Great Big White World," meanwhile, much like the other Mechanical Animals songs, had a distinct, Bowie-esque sensibility in the structure of the tunes and in Manson's singing. All in all, it made you appreciate the album a lot more for what it was instead of focusing on what you've come to expect from the industrial hard-rock side of the band's music.
When "The Beautiful People" ended, while you wish an encore would have been in order, really, Manson and the band were so energizing and putting on such a powerfully compelling performance that you felt gratified. Overall, this was dream lineup that more than delivered the promise assumed.
Continue on for setlists and a Critic's Notebook.
Personal Bias: I love a good theatrical rock show, and these two guys are in the highest echelon of that sort of thing.
Random Detail: "Thunderkiss '65," by Rob Zombie, and Cheap Trick played over the P.A. between the Manson and Cooper sets.
By the Way: The opening act, Picture Me Broken, was kind of the post-hardcore end of metallic screamo. The act's set ended with a performance of Heart's "Crazy on You"; fortunately, Layla Allman had the pipes to make for a believable rendition of one of Heart's most sonically diverse early songs.
Red Rocks - June 3, 2013
01. The Flower Duet [by Lakmé, instrumental intro music]
02. Angel With the Scabbed Wings
03. Disposable Teens
04. No Reflection
05. The Dope Show
06. Rock Is Dead
07. Great Big White World
08. Personal Jesus [Depeche Mode cover]
10. Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) [Eurhythmics cover]
11. Irresponsible Hate Anthem
12. The Beautiful People
Red Rocks - June 3, 2013
01. Hello Hooray
02. House of Fire
03. No More Mr. Nice Guy
04. Billion Dollar Babies
05. I'll Bit Your Face Off
06. Is It My Body
07. Under My Wheels
08. Hey Stoopid
10. Dirty Diamonds
11. Welcome To My Nightmare
12. Go To Hell
13. Feed My Frankenstein
14. Ballad of Dwight Fry
15. I Love the Dead
16. School's Out
17. I'm Eighteen
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