We’ll start this morning with the well deserved wishes for a Happy Mother’s Day. Whether your carnation is red or white, and whether you are a mother, or celebrating one in your life, I wish you the best of days. Here at the Mid-Century Mondohaus, Mrs. M was accorded the rare privilege of the Spawn’s arising before 11 a.m. in order to present her with a card and a gift certificate for a pedicure. Later, when the local nursery has its sale, Mrs. M will get a bunch of plants for the yard, as is our custom. So Happy Mother’s Day, everyone.
And now, a discussion of last night with the Spawn. We left Mondoville at four and made it to Real City a little less than an hour later. We had dinner at the Spawn’s favorite “gourmet burger joint”, where we happened to be seated next to a former student of mine and her family. After that, we wandered around the mall in which said burger joint is located for a bit. More to the point, the Spawn wandered while I tried something new — one of the overstuffed “Shiatsu massage” chairs — maybe they have them where you are. Three bucks paid for nine minutes of mechanical pressure on different parts of my back while padded cuffs would occasionally tighten and relax on my calves. It wasn’t a bad experience, and not a bad use of $3, I guess, but I kind of miss wasting cash at the arcades of my youth.
We left the mall to find what appeared to be an audition for the Jerry Springer Show going on in the parking lot. A man and woman were shouting at a woman holding a baby, who was replying with such sparkling badinage as “Fuckin’ bee-itch.” Some passersby were recording the scene with cell phones. The Spawn said, “Let’s get to the car before someone pulls a gun.” So we did, and made our way downtown to the Koger Center, the concert venue a few blocks from the Berries’ HQ at Art Bar.
The neighborhood abuts Flagship University, where the Spawn did her first semester of college before returning home to Mondoville. She said that being back in the neighborhood reminded her of how unhappy she was a couple of years ago, but also how happy she is at my school. After a moment, we found the venue and the line of tour buses and trucks. (On a side note, we also noticed that Alice apparently brings a caterer on tour as well — a guy in a food trailer was cooking chicken breasts as we walked past.)
We got in the venue and found our way to the merch table. We got a T-shirt for the Spawn — it was $40, about 266% more than I paid for a shirt in 1986, but hey… it was the Spawn’s first concert, and it looks cute on her.
As we waited for the hall to open, I looked at the crowd. The Spawn appeared to be in a demographic trough — lots of folks were my age or older, and many of them had brought kids, or grandkids, but most of them were much younger than she is. The Spawn told me that she had mentioned to an online friend that she was going to the Alice Cooper show — the friend didn’t know who that was.
Well, that’s the friend’s loss, because we saw a heck of a show. The concert opened with the title cut from the underrated Brutal Planet album, and there was a nice mix of songs from the classic 70s era and his post-86 renaissance. We got to hear standards like “No More Mr. Nice Guy” and “Under My Wheels”, along with more recent tunes like “Feed My Frankenstein” and “Lost In America.” The backing band (with one exception) has been together for quite some time and it shows. The recent addition is lead guitarist Nita Strauss, who provides a nice secondary focus not only because she happens to be an attractive woman (as the Spawn attested), but because she’s a very fine player who got her own solo spot during one of Alice’s costume changes.
The highlights of the show for me were a couple of longer pieces. One, I had expected — a medley of “Cold Ethyl”/”Only Women Bleed”/”Escape”/”Ballad of Dwight Frye” and the execution sequence from “Killer”, followed by some of “I Love the Dead”, which even had the Spawn singing along. The one that lit me up, however, was a deep track from Killer, “Halo of Flies.” Yes, it’s the drum solo tune, but honestly, I’m not usually a fan of drum solos, and rarely take them myself. Too often, they’re just examples of performance-as-athletic-event, rather than something musical. Neil Smith’s original solo in “Halo”, however, takes place over a nifty 6/8 bass vamp, and works as a counterpoint to it — hey! Music! To his credit, Glen Sobel stays largely true to Smith’s original composition, and even when he departs from it late in the bit, he doesn’t turn it into an exercise in self-flagellation. But I’ve always loved the song, and find its mix of elliptically cryptic lyrics and interesting playing to be one of the peaks of the AC corpus. It was a delight to see the new folks perform it, and was just about worth the price of admission for me by itself.
It was great fun watching the Spawn watch the show — her jaw dropped during the pyrotechnic sequences (most notably during the opener, and then in “Feed My Frankenstein” and the set closer, “I’m Eighteen.”) One thing that I noticed was that instead of using pyro at many points, Cooper’s stage show employed jets of stage fog with Varilights, giving a look much like multicolored flame jets, but much more safely (and tidily), I’m sure.
But we had made it through the show without the Spawn’s favorite track, “School’s Out”. Now of course, I knew the song was coming — it’s a trademark, after all, and I figured it would show up in the encore. But remember — the Spawn had never been to a concert like this before, and while she knows there are Alice Cooper songs she likes, she isn’t really aware of his career trajectory in a way that fans of my generation are. But sure enough, the encore began with the sound of school bells ringing, and both her clenched fists punched skyward as she joined the rest of the crowd in bellowing the lyrics with gusto — and with Alice. It was an absolutely perfect ending as streamers and confetti fell on the audience.
As we walked back to our car, again passing the food trailer, where the chef appeared to be relaxing for a moment, both the Spawn and I suffered from a bit of “blankethead”/threshold shift, but it passed soon enough. It was strange to me to emerge from a hard rock show without reeking of tobacco and “herbal jazz cigarettes”, but I guess we’re getting older, and of course, the Koger Center ain’t the Cincinnati Gardens, which isn’t there anymore, anyway. The Spawn, of course, didn’t notice. She just knew she had a great time — and so did I.
We got home, told Mrs. M about the show, and prepared to call it a night. And then the power went out, which meant that we couldn’t run the dishwasher. More importantly for me, I couldn’t run my CPAP machine, which I use for sleep apnea. Fortunately, the power kicked back on at 1:48 this morning, so I was able to get to bed at what was a reasonable rock-and-roll hour.
And now we’re here. And as I said earlier, I hope your Mother’s Day is everything it can be for you.
See you soon!