It may be nearing mid-September, but it was a hot and steamy summer night, storms just passed through, and Hartford, CT was ready for the Freaks on Parade to hit the town. The hottest tour of the summer features Alice Cooper and Rob Zombie with special guests Filter and Ministry and left complete destruction in its wake.
The night began with one-time Nine Inch Nails member Richard Patrick and his current lineup of Filter. Earlier this year, the band released its eighth album, The Algorithm, and started its set with three tracks from that record before ending with three of the band’s classic mid-90’s hits, “Take A Picture”, “Welcome To The Fold”, and “Hey Man Nice Shot”.
Second on the bill was Al Jourgensen and the current lineup of his industrial metal band Ministry, which features former Madonna guitarist Monte Pittman, former Stone Sour drummer Roy Mayorga, ex-Tool bassist Paul D’Amour, and others. The band gave a brutally heavy set that centered on its classic album run of The Land of Rape and Honey, The Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Taste, and Psalm 69. In addition to a cover of Black Sabbath’s “Supernaut”, the band also played “Goddamn White Trash” from its upcoming record Hopium For The Masses.
Alice Cooper led off the headline portion of the evening with a typically amazing Alice performance. Always one to surprise, Alice led off with “Lock Me Up” from 1987’s Raise Your Fist and Yell. While his incredible band, featuring Ryan Roxie, Nita Strauss, and Tommy Henriksen on guitar, Chuck Garric on bass, and Glen Sobel on drums, touched on 9 different records, nothing after 1994’s The Last Temptation was played. Even though Alice has a great new record, Road, out now, he chose to stick to the classics.
Being a set of classics, all of the trademark Alice Cooper live props were on full display. The giant walking monster during “Feed My Frankenstein”, the snake during the under-the-radar gem “Snakebite” from Hey Stoopid, and, of course, the full theatrics of the nurse, straitjacket and guillotine for the epic “Ballad of Dwight Frye”.
While Alice is always the centerpiece, he has no hesitation to show off the incredible band he’s assembled. Roxy, Strauss, and Henriksen could be the best guitar team in the business and each one gets their chance to shine throughout the evening, culminating in the “Black Widow Jam” which perfectly showcases all of their talents.
There are certain songs Alice will always have to play, and in a 65-minute set, they will take up much of the time, but it is great to hear him mixing in things like “Snakebite” and “Lock Me Up” to keep the sets fresh. It’s also interesting to hear a track like 1994’s “Lost In America” and realize that the lyrics are just as pertinent now as they were 30 years ago.
Year after year Alice and his band hit the road. Every note is played and sung live and every show sees them give 100%. Alice Cooper is probably the one act where you know you will never get a bad show. I can’t wait to see the band incorporate material from the new record into a headlining set!
Finally, it was time for Rob Zombie. This was a perfect bill leading up to Zombie as his sound formed from combining the industrial sounds of Ministry and the horror theatrics of Alice Cooper. Zombie’s set was perfect for a tour like this. After opening with “The Triumph of King Freak” from his latest release, he led his band, featuring Piggy D on bass, Ginger Fish on drums, and the returning Mike Riggs on guitar, through a hits-packed set centered around his classic debut Hellbilly Deluxe.
Zombie’s stage production is an assault on the senses. video screens everywhere projecting throughout the night, giant walking monsters, and the devil himself during “Superbeast”. The band gets into the theatrics with full makeup and interactions with the audience.
Rob Zombie is not only a musician but a filmmaker, so clips of his films can be seen during tracks like “House of 1000 Corpses” and “The Lords of Salem”. Zombie’s set touches on each of his solo records, with the exception of 2010’s Hellbilly Deluxe 2. He ends his main set by dipping back into his White Zombie days for the mega-hits “More Human Than Human” and “Thunderkiss ’65”.
While the amphitheater was not sold out, it was pretty close to it. The crowd was made up of everyone from young kids experiencing their first rock show to those who saw Alice Cooper back in his heyday. regardless of age, everyone left the show amazed by the production and talent on display from all bands involved.