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Concert Review: Alice Cooper w/ Halestorm and Motionless In White - by JCE

For anyone who has read any of my writings here on Pencilstorm, you might wonder why JCE would go to this concert at all. First off, I hate large venues, and second, I lean a little more punk rock and power pop than this triple bill would imply (but I do like my glam metal). Well here’s the story. I saw this show coming to Jiffy Lube Live, one of your typical outdoor “sheds,” which is located in Bristow, VA only about 50 minutes from where I live. My daughter and I had seen Motionless In White a couple of times, and we have grown to love them. Halestorm is a band that my wife and my daughter and I have enjoyed over the last few years, and Alice Cooper…..well Alice is someone I casually enjoy. My wife had no interest and my daughter really didn’t even know who he was. Still, it seemed like a good outing for our whole family while my daughter was home for the summer. (She’s a college student and away from home 9 months out of the year.) Plus, I have never seen Alice Cooper and I thought I should before he dies: he’s 71 years old. I consider him to have been very influential to a great deal of music that I love. So I bought three tickets for the Tuesday, August 13th show.

We easily parked and found our seats. As it turns out, Alice Cooper on a Tuesday night does not apparently make for a sellout crowd. They didn’t even have the lawn area open, which is a good thing because there was thunder and lightning and it rained its ass off. Motionless In White hit the stage and my family - along with a totally punked-out Motionless fan sitting next to us - were practically the only people who immediately jumped to our feet. An usher took notice and gave us four tickets to move two sections forward, instantly transforming my overpriced seats in Section 301 in the back to great seats in Section 101 in the front. Nice. Motionless In White played eight very good, crisp, hard-rocking songs, including several of our favorites. This is a band I once dismissed as “scream-o” noise that has progressed and matured into a really polished act, in my opinion. My daughter and I could have left then and been happy.

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Motionless In White

Next up: Halestorm. This is a metal outfit from Philadelphia featuring a female vocalist named Lizzy Hale. They have some great records and some great songs. Unfortunately, this was not their night. Their most current record, called “Vicious,” is a total clunker in my opinion. The one song I like on it is called “Skulls” and they did not play it. They have a brand new single called “Chemicals” which is good and was the highlight of the night for me. The older songs that they did play were marred by too much guitar noodling and drum soloing and I thought the whole set was a mess.

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Lizzy Hale

Alice Cooper was next up. The night was getting long and we all had previously agreed to watch some Alice Cooper, but maybe not the whole set. After setting up his haunted castle stage, Alice came on and started strong. Here is a 71 year old man wearing leather pants, prowling the stage and not looking too silly at all. He opened with a good tune called “Feed My Frankenstein” and then really got my attention with “No More Mr. Nice Guy.” I love that one. “Bed of Nails” was great and Ashley and I got a kick out of “Fallen in Love” which featured the chorus “I’ve fallen in love and I can’t get up.” That one is on his latest record which isn’t half bad. I had insisted we stay to hear “I’m Eighteen” unless it was all the way at the end, but it was the seventh song, so we easily made it to that one. We walked out to the car at some point mid-set while listening to “Billion Dollar Babies.” Of all the songs on the setlist, the only ones I missed that he eventually played and I wish I had heard were “Under My Wheels” and “School’s Out.” Nevertheless, I can now say I saw Alice Cooper, and if I’m being honest, I enjoyed him as much as Motionless and far more than Halestorm. Way to go Alice! Here’s the most important thing I can say about this concert: the reason the guy was awesome at age 71 is that he picked the most spectacular, melt your face off touring band imaginable. He had two lead guitar players that I had heard of and have even listened to in the past. I didn’t recognize who they were until I had to look them up the morning after the show. The first was Ryan Roxie, who has some great songs of his own and looks a little like Johnny Thunders reincarnated. The second was Nita Strauss; who is a renowned guitar slinger, had so much energy and looked so cool. The two of them were great, but Nita was spinning, racing from one side of the stage to the other and just killing it. Alice had some very good hired guns to make this a really decent rock n roll show. The proof is in the pictures (which by the way are pictures of a big video screen, I wasn’t that close to the stage):

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Alice Cooper, same as ever…

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Ryan Roxie and Nita Strauss

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Nita Strauss

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Nita Strauss

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Ryan and Nita, who stole the show as far as I’m concerned…..