Live (Retro): Alice Cooper @ The Palace Theatre, 11/15/1986

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This Albany show – 34 years ago tonight – was a long-overdue return to the road for missing-in-action heavy-horror icon ALICE COOPER, a tour dubbed ‘The Nightmare Returns’.  Alice hadn’t been on the road since the 1981-82 ‘Special Forces’ tour, when he played a legendary show at this same venue, during his booze-and-cocaine-addled ”lost years”.

The opening band, VINNIE VINCENT INVASION, featured the ex-KISS, ‘Lick It Up’-era guitarist, and future members of light-touch commercial metal band Slaughter.  To describe this band as “of its time” is an understatement.  1986 was an era of, amongst other things, innocuous, preposterously glammy hard rock, and the VVI fit that description x 10.  Spandex, heavy mascara, ludicrously high hair (and vocals), just awful. These guys made Ratt look like Motorhead.  Which was sadly too common if you went to see an arena band like Alice, Ozzy, Dio, Priest, etc. in the ’83-89 years, but these guys raised the bar for foolish glam lameness, and for their trouble were met with universal derision, laughter and outright aggression by an impatient Palace crowd. 

While Vinnie Vincent was greeted with a sea of middle fingers and hilarity, no such troubles for the exalted Mr. Vincent Furnier.  Alice hit the stage with a knockout 1-2-3 punch of “Welcome to my Nightmare”, “Billion Dollar Babies” and “No More Mr. Nice Guy”, and the throng of Palace Theater metal kids – most of whom were too young to have seen him in his 70s glory years or even his more recent Palace gig – treated him as a conquering hero.
In 1986, Alice had cleaned up his act, and was promoting the comeback ‘Constrictor’ record, an updated, conservative return to the straight hard rock + horror lyrics of yore.  A solid (if unadventurous) record, and he played a few songs from it. But the show was, other than that, an all-classic greatest hits set, nothing newer than ‘Go To Hell’, not a single song from the more left-of-center ’77 – ’83 records, and with all the snakes, beheadings, monsters, cold ethyls and evil nurses you’d want. Frankly, not much different than what you’d see at an ALICE show in 2020 – if there WERE Alice shows in the pandemic-torn 2020 – but with different new songs and a different band. In ’86 his band was led by a strange, ‘Rambo’-looking musclebound guitar player, Kane Roberts, and also included future progenitor of unbearable hair metal, Kip Winger, and journeyman drummer Ken Mary.  But all-pro players, and a solid backing for the master of ceremonies and his show.  He killed this night, no pun intended.

Setlist:

Welcome to My Nightmare
Billion Dollar Babies
No More Mr. Nice Guy
Be My Lover
I’m Eighteen
The World Needs Guts
Give It Up
Cold Ethyl
Only Women Bleed
Go to Hell
Ballad of Dwight Fry
Teenage Frankenstein
Sick Things
I Love the Dead
School’s Out
Elected
Under My Wheels.

All hail ALICE.

1 Comment
  1. ToastWRPI says

    Thank you for this.
    Almost exactly a year later on 11/13/1987, Alice would play the larger RPI Fieldhouse with original KISS guitarist Ace Frehley opening (along with Faster Pussycat).

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