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'It's pure Alice Cooper'

The singer promises to bring his classic onstage persona to Costa Mesa, but the Raise the Dead Tour will offer a bit of sensitivity as well, in an homage to old friends.

November 19, 2013|By Michael Miller | This post has been corrected, as noted below.
  • Alice Cooper will perform Nov. 26 at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts.
Alice Cooper will perform Nov. 26 at the Segerstrom Center… (Segerstrom Center…)

Death has often played a comic part in Alice Cooper's shows — to the point where the singer has pretended to be hanged or beheaded in a guillotine before miraculously springing back to keep the music going.

When Cooper's Raise the Dead Tour stops in Costa Mesa on Nov. 26, the departed will return to life again. But his performance may strike a note more poignant than outrageous.

Toward the end of Cooper's set list, he performs a tribute to some musical friends he drank with decades ago — John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Keith Moon. To put them in perspective, Lennon would be 73 this year, Hendrix 71, Morrison 70 and Moon 67. Cooper, who turned 65 in February, would be the youngster in the group.

"I basically do a tribute, sort of a tip of the hat, to all my dead drunk friends," said Cooper, whose birth name is Vincent Furnier, by phone between stops on his tour.

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Onstage, Cooper is one of the most flamboyant and tongue-in-cheek rock stars. In person, he's an intriguing mix of kidding and serious. A famous scene from the movie "Wayne's World" had the slacker heroes visiting Cooper backstage, where he launched into a lecture about Milwaukee's colonial and political history. The real-life Cooper, who said he has a covers album in the works, comes off about as erudite.

He also comes off as a man with a product to pitch — and that product is Alice Cooper, which was his band's name in the early 1970s before he adopted it as his stage name as well. Throughout the interview, he tossed around the word "Alice" ("The second part of the show is nightmare Alice.… I think most people are aware of that Alice") the way a salesman might bandy about the word "insurance."

"It's pure Alice Cooper," he said about his pending debut at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts. "It's all the hits. I've got the best band, I think, the best touring band out there right now. And musically, it's the most solid we've ever been.

"And then you add all the theatrics to that and you add all the excitement and the energy to it — I mean, it's a very high-energy show. We don't give the audience a chance to get their breath."

Even though Cooper is far from the first amplified act to play at Segerstrom, venue President Terry Dwyer considers his booking something of a breakthrough.

"We've done rock acts before, but [this is] the first time we've ever done someone, I would say, in the kind of 'shock rock' genre," he said. "And I think it's thrilling."

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