Alice Cooper brought the skills of a veteran and the energy of a rookie to his sold-out show at the Akron Civic Theatre last night (Aug. 9), fronting a supercharged three-guitar lineup that tore through the fast-paced 90 minute set of big hits and unearthed rarities like it was raw meat.

Sometimes, with his spooky imaging and theatrical art-rock albums, it's possible to forget that Alice came from a Detroit garage-rock upbringing, but the precisely-loose, thousand-bee buzz that he and his young band locked into from set opener 'The Black Widow' on made it clear we weren't at some ornate Broadway show.

The song selection naturally focused on Alice's parade of classic hits - 'I'm 18,' 'Under My Wheels,' a scorching 'Billion Dollar Babies.' But Cooper found time to dig out a few choice and perhaps under-appreciated gems from his back catalog, including a 'roided up take on 2000's 'Brutal Planet' and the forehead-slappingly brilliant, Gary Newman-esque new wave squeal of 'Clones' from 1980's 'Flush the Fashion.'

Cooper also offered a taste of his upcoming 'Welcome 2 My Nightmare' album with the fantastic, immediately memorable and Stones-influenced 'I'll Bite Your Face Off,' which he comically introduced with a jacket marked "New Song" in big letters.

Alice's always impressive showman's flair was in fine form throughout. It seemed he was never without some form of prop, be it a cane, spider's arms, spark-shooting hands or a lovely female doll to comfort him during the show's one quiet song, the beautiful melancholy of 'Only Women Bleed.'

One quibble - we noticed that a camera-happy chap with the label "Press Reporter" on his coat was the subject of much abuse, and ultimately murder, at Alice's hands in the show this evening - what's that about? No matter, of course Cooper got served cold justice in the form of a guillotine at the end of the night, re-emerging, neck intact, for a big sing-along of 'School's Out' that featured the chorus from Pink Floyd's like-minded 'Another Brick in the Wall.'

The concert was also the end of a fantastic four-show, eight-day workweek here at UCR's homebase. Ask anybody, this is one reporter capable of being a huge cynic, but after excellent shows by Foreigner, Ted Nugent, Bob Dylan and now Alice, I'm just about out of concert-related superlatives. Suffice it to say that live classic rock and roll is alive and well in America this summer!

Setlist:

Black Widow
Brutal Planet
I'm 18
Under My Wheels
Billion Dollar Babies
No More Mr. Nice Guy
Hey Stoopid
Halo of Flies
I'll Bite Your Face Off
Muscle of Love
Only Women Bleed
Cold Ethyl
Feed My Frankenstein
Clones
Poison
Wicked Young Man
Killer / I Love the Dead
School's Out

Encore:
Elected