in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA, August 20, 2005

ALICE COOPER (Live in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA, August 20, 2005)
Photo: Dan Skiba

The Alice Cooper Show 2005 hit North American shores on August 20th, 2005, via the US Bank Arena in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA. For about the next month of Alice Cooper’s run of the continent, the legendary Hard Rock Pop band, Cheap Trick, is to be included on the bill. For Alice Cooper, this first USA stop of the year was in support of his new Dirty Diamonds album (read the Metal Express review by clicking here). Conversely, Cheap Trick’s last studio album, Special One, came out in 2003 (although word from the Cheap Trick camp is that the band will be knocking out a new album in early 2006), so with no current release to specifically support, it appears Cheap Trick felt the timing was right to stay in practice and brush up for the tour that will inevitably accompany their next release.


Other than possibly The Beatles, never was there a band in Rock ‘N’ Roll history that has been able to crank out the hits in assembly line fashion like Cheap Trick did in the 4-year stretch between 1977 and 1980. Cheap Trick had that rare gift of pairing simple guitar riffs and drumbeats with incredibly catchy choruses time and time again, while maintaining unique freshness in their music, along with periodic tongue-in-cheek humor. Rick Nielsen, the man of 1000 guitars, possessed most of the playful personality of the band, while Bun E. Carlos (still one of the best names ever in the history of Rock ‘N’ Roll), provided a lovable “nerdiness” to the band’s shtick. Throw in solid bass play by Tom Petersson and the very easy to listen to pipes of Robin Zander, and you indeed have one of the classic Rock ‘N’ Roll heavyweights of all-time still at it after nearly 30 years.

Cheap Trick strolled out on stage with “Hello There” followed by “Big Eyes” in a somewhat subdued fashion. Zander was dressed dashingly in brilliant white (complete with a quasi-top hat), and Nielsen, known often in the past to wear bizarre checkerboard patterns, polka dots, obnoxious colors, etc., was noticeably much more “normal” looking. Carlos, just like he did back in 70s, still looked like your neighbor’s dad who wears black Gold Toe socks with his sandals and shorts when he mows the grass, while Petersson sported a contemporary (pass me another cappuccino, will ya’!), if not gentlemen-like, look. Overall, though a bit thicker in the mid-section across the board, the band, especially Zander and Petersson, looked in remarkably great shape!

At the beginning, it appeared Cheap Trick was kind of laying back to test the waters with this audience … it wasn’t until the 4th song kicked in, “I Want You To Want Me,” that the band began to shed the rehearsal atmosphere in favor of enticing the crowd to get involved. By the time the band performed “The Flame,” the audience was into it full tilt all the way through to “Surrender,” which was the final song performed before the encore. The crowd, as alluded to above, was a bit sluggish at first (likely a result of following the band’s initial lead), but totally exploded when “Dream Police” kicked in as the first song of the encore, and the classic hit “California Man” continued feeding the spectator buzz.

Sound-wise, Cheap Trick was phenomenal. Zander’s voice was identical to what it was 25 years ago, and the band showed it still knows how to crank out quality tunes in a live setting. The only surprise in their set was the exclusion of anything from 1980s very successful All Shook Up album, but when playing 65 quick minutes, Cheap Trick certainly had plenty of “A” material to choose from, so it’s to be expected that they had to draw the line somewhere. Overall, though, it’s truly great to see Cheap Trick on the road again, and hopefully their efforts surrounding the scheduled 2006 studio album release will add even more choices to their already extensive repertoire!


Now nicely “warmed up,” Alice Cooper and his youthful band hit the stage by storm with the title track, “Dirty Diamonds,” from his new release. The full stage show was back for this tour, much unlike the previous Bare Bones Tour, which was in support of his The Eyes Of Alice Cooper album (read the Metal Express review by clicking here), where Alice triumphantly returned to a sound and song structure similar to his first heydays in the 70s. Madame Guillotine was in the fold again, the stage props for virtually every song were there, and several skits were played out with Alice’s incredibly attractive and talented daughter, who assumed various roles during the likes of “Go To Hell,” many of the Welcome To My Nightmare songs performed, and “I Love The Dead.”

Now at 57 years old, the most amazing thing about this Alice Cooper Show was Alice’s energy and control of the stage. During the Brutal Planet and Dragontown tours, especially, Alice seemed to be showing a few signs of slowing down … hard to pinpoint, but there seemed to be less stage dominance and control of the audience like in the trademark Alice shows of the past. Well, all of those inclinations were washed away on this night. Alice was again Alice … an ageless Raunch ‘N’ Roll icon … a showman through and through like none other … a pure and passionate entertainer. For 95 minutes, Alice held the audience in the palm of his hand, and the 3000+ in attendance sounded like a crowd 4 times this size for most of the set.

In addition to the title track, Alice performed “Woman Of Mass Distraction,” “Steal That Car,” and “Sunset Babies (All Got Rabies)” from the new album. There was a definite focus on the Welcome To My Nightmare album too, and, of course, the benchmark hits, “I’m Eighteen,” “No More Mr. Nice Guy,” “Billion Dollar Babies,” “School’s Out,” “Under My Wheels,” “Be My Lover,” and “Poison” were included in the set, as expected.

The real surprise, however, came in the form of a 2nd encore whereby Alice Cooper and band cohorts were joined on stage by Cheap Trick to cover a couple Classic Rock staples. Robin Zander and Alice Cooper shared the vocal duties in a tag-team format, and it was great to see the obvious camaraderie and “fun” atmosphere on stage by these veteran heavyweights. In reflection, these bands back in the 70s were really worlds apart with respect to what they were doing. Alice Cooper was music for “The Uglies,” and Cheap Trick was grabbing up mainstream attention and radio play slots by the dozens. But on this night, they all were just a bunch of guys doing what they have loved to do for many many years … and that 10-minute jam session epitomized the reason why both bands are still in the game today –- when it comes down to it, it’s all about hanging out with your buddies and having fun playing Rock ‘N’ Roll music. Well done by all … check out the show when it comes to your area -– you’ll be glad you did!


  • Dan Skiba

    Dan is a former partner at Metal Express Radio, and also served as a reviewer, photographer and interviewer on occasions. Based out of Indianapolis, USA he was first turned on to Hard Rock music in the mid-1970s when he purchased Deep Purple's Machine Head as his first album. He was immediately enthralled with the powerful guitar sound and pronounced drumbeat, and had to get more! His collection quickly expanded to include as many of Heavy Rock bands of the time that he could get his hands on, such as Ted Nugent, Judas Priest, and Black Sabbath, to name just a few.

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