Welcome to the Nightmare
On Nov. 9th, the temperature was well below freezing. Blowing snow ensured that you could hardly see the hand in front of your face, let alone brave the now treacherous drive from Regina to Moose Jaw. Yet, those who did were in for a spectacle of rock and roll theatre. Alice Cooper's Nightmare Express made a stop at Mosaic Place in Moose Jaw as a part of the Night of Fear tour. Those that were in attendance stood in awe as the Godfather of Shock Rock proceeded to burn the place to the ground.
This particular concert, an anomaly amongst rock shows to be sure, actually started five minutes before the advertised time on the ticket. What the ticket neglected to mention was the opening act – Geoff Tate of Queensryche fame. Tate and his ensemble of characters which ranged from the soft-rock Kerry King on guitar to the scene-punk Bill Nye on bass proceeded to play 45 minutes of barely intelligible songs from Tate's new solo album, Kings & Thieves. Blessedly, this clattering racket didn’t last too long, and the real show began. When Alice Cooper storms through a wall of fire dressed in full ringmaster’s gear, you know you're about to witness something magical.
Cooper and company tore through the 24-song set list seemingly without a breath. Anybody who has even remotely heard of Alice Cooper knows that, with a stage set-up like his, that's no small feat. Sure, the set list was composed almost entirely of greatest hits, but when it's as cold as it was, if I may bastardize a line from Homer Simpson, here, “No new crap; take care of business.” Alice Cooper's business, as it should happen, involves horse whips, swords, guillotines, electric chairs, and straight jackets. And brother, business is a-booming.
If there was any one thing to legitimately complain about, again, it would have to be quality of sound. I'll give this one a pass because it was in a small-town hockey rink, but even then, I know a quality audio mix can be achieved. Cooper's vocals would occasionally clip, and having four guitar players on stage made sure that the drums were oftentimes lost altogether; that notwithstanding, the show did have its moments of absolutely perfect audio quality, and those moments were simply magical.
The visibility may have been next to nothing both ways, and I may have ended up in the ditch on the highway outside of Belle Plaine for a few hours on the way home, but terrible traveling conditions may have made the catharsis of rock theatrics all the more thorough. From “Hello Hooray”, through a rousing rendition of “Welcome to my Nightmare”, and all the way through to “School's Out”, the Nightmare Express' ride seemed to end all too quickly. That was a ride that I ever wanted to leave, and that I won't soon forget.
Photo courtesy msnbcmedia.msn.com