Writing Project #3: Live Music Review
ASEM 2547 / Winter Interterm 2021 / Prof. Benz
University of Denver
22 December 2021
Alice Cooper: The 2021 Christmas Pudding
The day is December 4, 2021; a day I had anticipated for quite awhile as it would be my first in-person concert since the COVID-19 pandemic took our world by storm and shut down all forms of large social gatherings. I was very excited to be able to be back in the concert setting and get to see many family friends. The longly awaited and anticipated concert was an Alice Cooper concert that was being put on in order to benefit his charity/nonprofit organization, The Solid Rock Teen Center. This concert takes place annually (minus the two year hiatus that COVID caused) at the historic, Celebrity Theater in central Phoenix.
In early 2016, my mom coincidentally met Alice Cooper on a flight from Chicago to Phoenix, and they ended up talking the duration of the flight. They bonded over the fact that my mom had worked for many years as a choral conductor for the Chicago Children’s Choir, a non-profit organization, and in return he told her about his non-profit organization/teen center called, “The Solid Rock Teen Center”. Ever since that flight, my parents and the Cooper family have become close family friends, as they do weekly golf outings, and we have been attending the Christmas Pudding concerts that his family puts on annually.
One of the most beloved Phoenix natives, Alice Cooper, is known for his dark, heavy metal, almost demonic onstage presence and music. Every year, he brings in rockstars from multiple eras of rock n’ roll to put on this elaborate and variety Christmas show. The show includes performances from the kids/teens that attend the teen center, the winner of the battle of the bands competition that Alice hosts earlier in the year, as well as an auction throughout the night to raise money to benefit his organization. Usual auction items include paintings, meet and greets, as well as paid for exclusive trips across the country (this year was a trip to Vegas on a private jet with the bidding starting at $10,000!)
As I walked into the theater, I was kindly greeted by volunteers. Before the concert begins, we attended a pre-show that includes a story time with Alice about his many adventures on the road and touring, as well as food, beverages and time to chat with other attendees and donors. Around 7pm, we all head upstairs into the main theater and take our seats. The night began with a 30 minute performance by the teens that spend their time at the center that included dancing, singing, and rapping. Following their performance, Ace Frehley of KISS, Orianthi, Mark McGrath of Sugar Ray and Ed Roland took the stage to perform some of their greatest hits, as well as help with the auction process in order to get more activity and raise more money for the kids! I was unfamiliar with these artists before this concert and was pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed the sound of their music, especially songs by Sugar Ray. The songs were super upbeat, happy and included instruments such as guitar, drums, bass and even trumpet for one song! I also though that Mark McGrath was a character and kept the audience entertained by continually cracking jokes and comparing people in the audience to celebrities.
Finally, around 10pm, Alice Cooper and his touring band took the famous Celebrity Theater rotating stage. He performed songs, “Poison”, “Welcome to my Nightmare”, “Under my Wheel” and classics like “Eighteen” and “Schools Out”. Alice is very personable with his crowd, and he still puts on a fantastic show. He is very theatrical, and he has a stage presence unlike any other artist. He likes to wear black eye makeup, with black tear drops rolling down his cheeks, and he likes to use props such as a guillotine, knives, and any other torture weapon that he has available. He does not talk much during his sets, rather he puts on a performance and does not break character until he exits the stage. He transitions from song to song by performing a stunt or having his dancer/band do something for the crowd. During this particular set, Alice seemed more tired than usual, but he kept his iconic death stare during his performance and was dancing around using a cane as a prop. He interacted with the audience by throwing out Alice $1,000,000 bills and baby dolls due to his song “Billion Dollar Babies”. He closed his set by inviting all of the performers, even the teens from his center, to come onstage and sing Christmas carols as the audience followed along by reading the screens on the ceiling. He also hired a Santa to come onstage with a sleigh. We all, in union, sang We Wish You A Merry Christmas, Silent Night and ended the night with Jingle Bell Rock!
Many people ask me if Alice is scary in real life because all of his musical sets are so dark. Surprisingly, Alice was one of the few artists that paved the way for heavy metal/rock bands to come. He is credited with creating the heavy metal/rock infusion genre and bands like Twisted Sister credit him for their success and inspiration.
The ambiance in the Celebrity theater was full of excitement and the intimate setting of the made for a great show. Alice likes to perform at the Celebrity theater in particular because of the rotating stage and the circular way the audience sits so that everyone gets a great view at some point during the show. It was also beneficial due to COVID restrictions because there are limited seats and also outdoor areas where people can go to catch their breathe or have a drink/food.
Alice Cooper’s Christmas Pudding is a concert you definitely don’t want to miss if you are ever visiting the Phoenix area during December. Not only is it entertaining, you get free food/pudding, you are there to benefit the teens of Phoenix and to raise money to benefit the teen center, which is the most rewarding part of it all.