On October 20,2010, The Halloween Hootenanny Tour stopped in Nashville and a Hootenanny it was. The Gruesome Twosome of Alice Cooper and Rob Zombie brought their legendary stage shows to the Music City and to add to the festivities they brought along the ghoulish Murderdolls.
The Murderdolls, featuring Wednesday 13 on vocals and Slipknot and Rob Zombie drummer Joey Jordison on guitar, hit the stage full of anger and energy. At one point Wednesday cracked, “We are not Bon Jovi”. I think after the opening songs “Chapel of Blood” and “Slit My Wrist” no one was confused about who they were. They played a tight, fast set that had the crowd responding with enthusiasm, which is impressive. It is rare to see an opening band receive such a favorable response but the crowd could tell that the Murderdolls are the real deal and not a gimmick. When they sing of murder and mayhem you get the feeling they mean it. By the end of their set I was thinking they make Marilyn Manson look like the Osmonds.
Alice Cooper was next on the bill. I had been waiting 30 years to see Alice and my fear was that I had built up such high expectations that he could never meet them. I am proud to say that Alice not only met, but exceeded those expectations. Alice was in top form as he stalked the staged and played out the various theatrical scenes that have made him famous. We were privileged to witness Alice die not one, not two, but four times. The stage show alone was worth the money but we were treated to all of the Alice classics such as “School’s Out”, “No More Mr. Nice Guy”, “Eighteen”, Billion Dollar Babies”, “Cold Ethyl”, “Only Women Bleed”, “Be My Lover” and “The Ballad of Dwight Fry” along with later in his career songs such as “Feed My Frankenstein”, Dirty Diamonds” and “Vengeance Is Mine”. He also pulled out a couple of deep tracks with “From The Inside” and “Nurse Rozetta” that also provided some good theatrics, including Nurse Rozetta using a grinder on her crotch. Alice has a great backing back of veterans consisting of Damon Johnson (Brother Cane) and Kerri Kelli on guitars, Jimmy Degrasso (Megadeth) on drums, and Chuck Garric on bass. Alice, being the great artist he is, also gave his band a time to shine in the spotlight on the Black Widow Jam. There were a couple of surprises during Alice’s set as well. During the encore Steve Hunter, who played with Alice on many of his classic albums joined the band on stage and earlier in the show pop star Keisha was on stage throwing out confetti filled balloons to the crowd. I admit I had no idea who she was and didn’t know until later she had participated in the show. Alice Cooper proved that he is still the king of theatrics when it comes to shock rock. The only thing that could have made the show better was if he had a troupe of midgets dressed as the Peanuts gang and they reenacted “It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown”……and of course he then kill them. Alice I bow to your greatness. At 63 you are still doing it better than anyone.
After that amazing set I told myself there was no way Rob Zombie could compete but there was an electricity generating in the crowd so I knew Zombie must be something special live. Being a Zombie virgin I was unsure of what to expect. From the second the lights went down to the end with Rob and the band throwing out Halloween candy, it was almost sensory overload. First of all, Rob’s vocals were very good. I have always heard he is hit or miss live. In Nashville, he hit a home run. Rob Zombie is also a great front man. Like Paul Stanley, minus the lisp, he knows how to work the crowd and get a cheap pop. The stage was part horror movie, part pits of hell, which was fitting for this tour as it was home to robots, monsters, and demons throughout the night. The various video screens were constantly showing clips of horror movies but with all the stage effects the videos were barely noticeable. Rob currently has an all-star band backing him and one can only hope he keeps this lineup together for awhile. John 5 is well known in the metal circles for his guitar playing ability and with a solid rhythm section of Piggy on bass and Joey Jordison on drums, the music was almost CD perfect. My only complaint of Zombie’s set was that it was too short. They played something like 14 songs, which is several less than Alice played. John 5’s guitar solo was good, as was the drum solo, but I had rather they stuck “Feel So Numb” in the set in place of those. Don’t get me wrong, the set was a blistering set and had the crowd going from start to finish. I literally thought the roof was going to blow off when Thunderkiss 65 was played. It reminded me of why I no longer stand in the pit. O to be young again. The setlist was a lot of Zombie standards, “Living Dead Girl”, “Dragula”, “Thunderkiss 65”, “More Human Than Human”, “Superbeast”, “Never Gonna Stop”, and “Scum of the Earth” and some newer songs, “Werewolf Women of the SS”, “Sick Bubblegum” and “Jesus Frankenstein”. A nice surprise was during the second encore and they played “The Lords of Salem”. Rob Zombie has a different style of stage show than Alice but it was almost as impressive. I always said that KISS had the greatest stage show on Earth but Alice Cooper/Rob Zombie out KISSed KISS. If this tour comes to a town near you all I have to say is GO!!!