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Alice Cooper brings ‘Detroit Stories’ tour to Youngstown

Alice Cooper, shown here during his 2016 concert at Packard Music Hall, returns to the Mahoning Valley on Monday for a show at Youngstown Foundation Amphitheatre. (Submitted photo / Bob Jadloski)

The band Alice Cooper got its start in Phoenix, but there’s a reason Vincent Furnier, the man who became Alice Cooper, named his latest album “Detroit Stories.”

“It was the healthiest rock scene I’d ever been in,” Cooper told National Public Radio in March. “Everything was about hard rock. Everybody worked in factories. They wanted their bands to sound like their machines, you know, sort of no-frills, right-in-your-face rock ‘n’ roll. That’s what we were. Then you put the theatrics on top of that — sort of a dark vaudeville.”

That description also could fit the Mahoning Valley in the early ’70s. Maybe that’s why Cooper has made the area a regular tour stop.

He’ll make his fourth appearance in just over a decade when he plays the Youngstown Foundation Amphitheatre on Monday with Ace Frehley opening.

The tour started last week in Atlantic City, N.J. Early setlists included a few songs from the new album among the old favorites.

This year’s show is close enough to Halloween to serve as an early celebration for some fans. Ryan Roxie, who’s played guitar with Cooper for about 20 of the last 25 years, said before Cooper’s last local appearance at Packard Music Hall in 2018, “Alice is the Santa Claus of Halloween. Every night is Halloween for Alice, but in the month of Rocktober, it does carry on a little added energy.”

Cooper was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2011 and can fill a wall with gold and platinum albums. But the singer and the band attracted as much attention for their on-stage theatrics as they did for hits like “I’m Eighteen,” “School’s Out” and “No More Mr. Nice Guy”

Monsters, blood and a guillotine remain staples of that live show.

“We gave the audience everything their parents hated,” Cooper told London’s The Independent earlier this year. “The way we saw it, if you’re driving by and you see Disneyland on the left side and a plane wreck on the right, you’re going to look at the plane wreck. We were that plane wreck.”

But the personal excesses of the ’70s — when Cooper was part of a group of celebrity friends (John Lennon, Keith Moon, Harry Nilsson) who called themselves the Hollywood Vampires and would drink themselves to oblivion — no longer exist.

Cooper told NPR he has hasn’t had a drink in 38 years, and religion is an important part of his life. He’s sees no contradiction between his faith and what he does on stage, and he frequently refers to Alice in the third person in interviews.

“I think it’s all a matter of what are you presenting on stage? And what my show was was never anything satanic,” Cooper said in that NPR interview. “We never had any nudity, no bad language, nothing like that. So my show is pure entertainment. And I thought I could very much coexist if I didn’t have to be Alice all the time.

“Once I get on stage for the two hours, I love playing Alice. He’s so much fun to play. I mean, you can’t get bored playing this character. Offstage, I go to church every Sunday, a Bible study on Wednesday mornings.”

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