Going to an Alice Cooper concert has always been about more than rocking out to all-American metal. Born in Detroit, but hailing from Phoenix, Arizona, the 63-year-old Cooper is as notorious for his touches of bloody horror and goth-inspired theatrics as he is for his music.
The modest crowd that came to eX Plaza Indonesia on Friday night to watch the pioneer of shock rock on his “No More Mr. Nice Guy” Australasian tour knew what to expect — and they weren’t disappointed.
Cooper took to the stage at 11 p.m., making his entrance perched high on a ladder, wearing black leather pants, a double-skull belt buckle and a cloak with spider legs dangling from the sides. His eyes were circled in black, with paint dragging down the center of his face.
The opening set featured an electric chair and two dummies swinging from their necks, setting the ghastly, death-inspired theme for the night.
The veteran rocker from the early 1970s belied his years as he delivered an energy-packed show reminiscent of his younger days. The stage band, full of top musicians including Australian guitarist Orianthi, provided solid backup but let the legend take center stage.
The typical Alice Cooper live show follows the rocker’s merciless alter ego slaughtering defenseless dummies for an hour or so before he finally pays the price. Cooper played up the theatrics, changing outfits with nearly every song — in one scene donning a blood-smeared doctor’s white coat while maniacally electrocuting one very sad-looking dummy in an electric chair.
He wore T-shirts with grinning skull prints, glittery silver and golden coats, leather vests and top hats. And to make sure the audience knew he was presenting material from his new album, he changed into a jacket that read “New Song” in big, white block letters before playing “I’ll Bite Your Face Off.”
There was more than costumes on show to stun and amuse the crowd — a live boa constrictor slithered around Cooper’s head and neck for several minutes. At one stage he even wielded a sword, stabbing a member of his crew who was playing a pestering reporter.
During the sole ballad of the night, “Only Women Bleed,” Cooper was accompanied by a life-size female dummy on stage. He danced with the dummy and passionately kissed her, before spanking and choking the poor thing and carelessly discarding her.
During “Feed My Frankenstein,” a massive Frankenstein dummy with a scarred face and a tattered cloak floated across the stage, its claws pointed at the audience as if threatening to steal every person away.
Cooper’s rampaging alter ego finally reached his sticky end as he was dragged over to a guillotine operated by an executioner dressed in black, who burst out in satisfied laughter when the singer’s head was chopped off.
Besides the theatrics, there was music to be enjoyed as well. The crowd got moving when Cooper sang “Poison,” one of his biggest hits, despite the fact that the performance fell short compared to some of the other songs of the night.
“School’s Out,” was nicely mashed up with some passages of Pink Floyd’s “The Wall,” but the performance couldn’t mask the poor quality of the sound system.
Cooper’s true strength was found in his showmanship. Judging by the abundance of slasher films playing at local cinemas, Indonesians are apparently fond of the horror genre — but no one seemed to be especially shocked or frightened by the electrocutions, beheadings or hangings on stage. But Cooper is no longer really trying to “scare” his audience. Instead, he just seems to be having a great time doing what he’s done for nearly 40 years.
The living legend seems to have a sense of self-deprecating humor about his age as well: At one point he limped across the stage, hunched over on a crutch, acknowledging his advanced years.
With tickets selling for Rp 750,000 ($84) each, attendance was sparse and the open space outside the Hard Rock Cafe was too big for the relatively small crowd.
But those frugal-minded fans who decided not to shell out for a ticket missed an amusing and highly entertaining show — and they missed a surprise after the encore at the end of the performance, when Cooper shouted into the night: “Yeah, you have problems here in Jakarta and the more I ponder, the more I think about it — I don’t care.”
Cooper then put the microphone down and took off his coat — he was wearing a red Indonesian national football team jersey, with the name “Cooper” and the number 18 on the back, a wardrobe change that won him laughter and cheers from the crowd.
Alice Cooper bowed a final time at his first and probably last concert in Indonesia and vanished into the night, as the half-moon that had been hiding behind clouds that night eventually dared to show its face again.