The mid to late 90’s were not kind to hard rock and metal bands. Bands like Poison, Ratt, and Warrant who once played arenas had been reduced to performing in half full clubs and then smoldered to their demise. Even classic acts like Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, and KISS were feeling the decline. Some bands found a way to survive by touring as part of package tours. This is what Alice Cooper and the Scorpions did in their 1996 co-headlining tour.
An obscure, odd band called My Head, a grunge/funk trio, opened the show. They did absolutely nothing but send me to the beer tent and to take a piss. The real oddity of the whole event was that while this was being billed as a “co-headlining” tour, Alice Cooper was going on before the Scorpions every night.
As a huge Alice Cooper fan, I knew that his set was going to be hard to top. Alice had a great band on this tour featuring former Winger guitarist Reb Beach (bad ass!). Alice pulled out some amazing songs for this tour like “Desperado” and an awesome “Gutter Cat vs. The Jets” featuring the full on street fight sequence. Alice’s stage show was a bit scaled back and he proved that the songs could stand strong on their own without the elaborate production. For the pre-encore closing “School’s Out” Reb Beach came tearing out on stage on a skateboard as he ripped our faces off with that legendary intro riff. It was a killer Alice Cooper performance and left me feeling like I had already seen the best set of the night.
I had considered leaving after Alice’s set, but I knew it was only fair to stick around and see what the Scorpions had to offer. I had seen them on the “Crazy World” tour and thought that they were really fun. Opening their set with “Tease Me, Please Me”, one of their most weak and corny songs, had me thinking that maybe this wasn’t going to be such a kick ass set. They were also touring with a new drummer (former Kingdom Come drummer) James Kottak who I thought was a total clown with his theatrical drumming and flailing arms. After that painful set opened, the set started to get a little better. “Bad Boys Running Wild”, “Loving You Sunday Morning” and “Big City Nights” all sounded amazing, but for some reason the energy just wasn’t there. They looked bored, uninspired, and that vibe totally translated to me. I made it all the way to the “still to this day, lame as fuck Kottak Attack” drum solo and I was out of there.
Looking back, I find myself trying to analyze just why I left that show early. Was it because the Scorpions just seemed bored and uninspired that night? Was it because Alice Cooper had put on such an amazing set that it was just damn near impossible to follow? Either way, this show will forever be etched in my memory as the night that Alice Cooper totally ruled over the Scorpions and he seemed to do it with nothing but ease.
Alice Cooper Setlist:
Under My Wheels, Billion Dollar Babies, I’m Eighteen, Desperado, No More Mr. Nice Guy, Poison, Welcome to My Nightmare, Cold Ethyl, Only Women Bleed, Feed My Frankenstein, Gutter Cat vs. the Jets, Street Fight, Steven, Ballad of Dwight Fry, School’s Out
Tease Me Please Me, Bad Boys Running Wild, Oh Girl (I Wanna Be With You), Loving You Sunday Morning, Big City Nights, Coast to Coast, Holiday, You and I, The Zoo, Alien Nation, Wild Child, Stone in My Shoe, Kottak Attack, Hit Between the Eyes, Blackout
Still Loving You, Wind of Change, Rock You Like a Hurricane