By Erik Myers
If you drive south enough on Broadway Avenue – and do so right about now – you’ll catch the billboard advertising Alice Cooper’s Monday night show at Red Rocks Amphitheatre. It displays his eyes, of course, a menacing black-lined pair that ought to compel any and all passerby to drop to their knees and utter that timeless plea: “We’re not worthy.”
Unfortunately, most of my fellow millennials don’t share my reverence for the 65-year-old legend, a reality compounded by the evening’s older crowd. It doesn’t come as a surprise, really. A good part of Cooper’s majesty is tied up in his claim as the original “shock” rocker, but even his infamous “chicken incident” is peanuts compared to what takes place in America’s music venues these days. Last month, Danny Brown received oral sex on-stage and few bothered to report it. Cooper wasn’t about to outdo anyone, and there was no way he was losing his shirt, but his twisted virility shone through nonetheless.
He looked fully charged in his red-and-black pinstripes, flanked by three guitarists and a shower of sparks falling from behind. He brought out the boa for “Is It My Body,” draping the serpent over his body with a studied hand. His no-nonsense set broke the barriers of time with the pair of “No More Mr. Nice Guy” and “Under My Wheels.” Cooper tore up and down the stage, hitting his notes and occasionally flashing a devilish sneer. The only time something seemed off was after “Dirty Diamonds,” when Cooper exited stage left and his band began a seven-minute jam session. Cooper came back with a top hat and, presumably, a second wind for a slightly casual rendition of “Welcome To My Nightmare.” He ended the evening with a full throated go at “I’m Eighteen,” joined onstage by his tour partner Marilyn Manson.
Bereft of anything even approximate in value to Cooper’s discography, Manson still seems destined for a more visible spot in pop culture history. It was cemented by his tangential relationship with the Columbine High School massacre, as documented in Michael Moore’s “Bowling for Columbine.” Manson’s return to Colorado is not without some irony now; a fresh memory of horror hangs over the state, but there was no protest this time around. The circumstances are different, certainly, but the absence of right-wing cultural warriors marching around the parking lot perhaps signifies a sea change in popular opinion about the root causes of violence in America.
Then again, maybe it’s just that no one cares about Marilyn Manson. His time as a newly independent artist seems to have left him unfocused and sloppy. He too had a wide variety of set pieces and costume changes to cycle through, but too often would he moan full phrases into his mic, an indecipherable stew of consonants and expletives. He often rolled around while doing so, but it was impressive to see that he could come so close to bending his legs just beyond his head despite a bit of a gut. Pulling off such posture takes dedication – not rib removal.
Electronic blogger Erik Myers is a Denver-based writer and new contributor to Reverb. Contact him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter.
John Leyba is a Denver Post photojournalist and regular contributor to Reverb.