Ol’ Black Eyes Is Back (Melbourne, FL, 11/5/19)
This week we switch gears a little bit. After covering Alice Cooper songs, interviews, and a good portion of his biographical content, let’s focus on his show – currently coined Ol’ Black Eyes Is Back. Honestly, this is the hang-up for many believers and critics of Alice and his faith. The show is just too dark, too violent, etc. However, when confronted with this topic and question, Alice poses a very pertinent question, “what about Macbeth? Isn’t there more darkness and violence found in Macbeth than there is within an Alice Cooper show?” Isn’t that a great question? In fact, isn’t there a lot of violence and darkness found not only within the arts but throughout the world? Alice Cooper’s show is tame in comparison to the stories reported on the news, the plot of most crime shows, and actually found within most forms of entertainment. And isn’t God’s Word also filled with tales of darkness and destruction? Yet we find “Escape” from the chains of these things through some of the darkest stories in His Word (For example, The Great Flood (Genesis 6:9-9:17), Passover (Exodus 12), and the martyrdom of Stephen (Acts 7:54-60)). In those stories, we also find His plan. We see the groundwork being laid for the path to Freedom through His Son. He offers us a way out of the darkness. All we must do is simply knock, and he will answer (Matthew 7:7-8). Hopefully, this post may shed some light on how Alice’s show can offer a similar form of deliverance…at least from this Christian’s perspective.
This past Tuesday night, my wife and I attended the “Ol’ Black Eyes Is Back” show in Melbourne, FL. From about 3-4 rows back, we were able to soak up the entire experience. It was captivating (to say the very LEAST)! If you’ve never been to a show, it’s well worth it. Get yourself tickets the next time they are in town and get as close as possible. After experiencing the show from much further back, I can attest to the fact that it is an entirely different experience up close and personal. For the record, there will be no major spoilers in this post – just a depiction and clarification of what you may have been told versus what the show actually is. For many of you that have been to the show, you may have your own interpretation, already know much of this content, and/or don’t see the show as anything more than a theatrical performance set to music. That’s the beauty of expression. The arts mean something different to everyone. Even the artists themselves are sometimes baffled by what someone else sees in their work. Some see one thing, others see something else, and still, others see nothing at all. But all opinions, reviews, and perspectives carry merit. Remember this is only my interpretation of what I saw and experienced. With that being said, let’s dive into the discussion.
In this show, we are introduced to “Nightmare Castle.” Over the years, Alice has masterfully displayed much of the human experience through his or maybe better put, humanity’s worst nightmares. A good portion of the concert, some 30-45 minutes (9-10 songs), is just a good old’ Rock ‘n’ Roll concert. A display of incredible talent – the vocals of Alice and a demonstration of his harmonica skills on “Fallen In Love”, 3 insanely gifted guitarists (Tommy Henriksen, Nita Strauss, and Ryan Roxie), long-time bassist and multi-faceted musician, Chuck Garric, and renowned (exhausting to watch) drummer, Glen Sobel. Seriously, Sobel’s drumming was amazing to witness, not only musically but aerobically as well – an insane workout.
After those first few songs, the show transitions into the theatrical portion – the Nightmare begins! An entity or spirit of a woman (portrayed by Sheryl Cooper, Alice’s wife of 43 years) haunts the band and Alice. Without going into much more detail, it’s evident that whatever ordeal and history there is between this character and Alice has left a mark or altered his thought process. Through a series of songs and other interactions with multiple characters and again with Sheryl (this time dressed as a new character, an agent of the enemy named Mademoiselle Guillotine), Alice is tempted, tried, convicted, and executed for his thoughts. No crime is actually committed. However, it’s evident that temptation and contempt are there, he’s even willing to kill – yet he doesn’t officially complete the criminal act. BUT he has still taken the bait – the thoughts and darkness of his past have trapped him. Caught in a web of lies – he’s consumed by the dark, driven insane in the process. The character confused and alone is obsessed with this and ultimately beheaded for his feelings and attempted crime. After a somewhat jubilant display of all the characters that wanted him dead, the nightmare ends. Then Alice returns, very much alive, with fanfare and celebration through the song “Escape.”
Before going further, stop and dissect that. What is the greatest fear for any human being in this life? Is it not for some sin you’ve committed (or maybe some future sin) to overtake and destroy your entire life on this Earth? Or perhaps something from your past that you don’t want coming back to haunt your present? To wind up forever trapped in darkness with no hope or escape. Life isn’t pretty. It’s ugly and dirty more often than we would like to care to admit. It seems the Alice nightmare is really nothing more than humanity’s nightmare. That spiritual tug of war that is being played with our souls, so to speak (2 Corinthians 10:3-5). So, here’s the question. Do we allow the enemy to pull us across that line into his territory? Or will we attach ourselves to God’s Word? Anchoring ourselves to Him, allowing Him to demolish the lies of the enemy (Isaiah 33:6). The arena of free-will is a fascinating thing. While the enemy is continually throwing himself at us, our Father gently whispers, “choose me, walk with me on this narrow road to life everlasting (Isaiah 30:21).” Our Lord tugs at our hearts while the enemy tries to entice our animal instincts (Pslam 46:10, 1Kings 19:12, Psalm 55:1-3). One leads to death, the other to life. There is a right and wrong answer. There is a choice that must be made.
So, back to the concert. As Alice reemerges, the show’s atmosphere changes. There’s no dark, sinister plot, no haunting presence – instead, there’s a celebration. He has survived the whole ordeal. His worst nightmare was only a dream. Or was it more than that? Is this show really only about this horrible nightmare, or is there a deeper meaning? Through a series of wardrobe changes and last-minute elements, we can also draw parallels to the supernatural realm of our Lord in Alice’s show.
Looking at this from the prism of God’s Word, would Alice’s beheading not represent the death of self (Galatians 2:20, Luke 9:23). The deliverance and redemption of a man that has decided to no longer walk alone or live life without the guidance of His Creator. A man offering up his past life for a new one. A man willing to lay aside the things of this world in exchange for an everlasting path of renewal. And is it no coincidence that as he’s resurrected into a new life, he’s rejoicing at the chance to “Escape” the ways of a less meaningful existence? But it doesn’t stop there.
Alice also returns with Frankenstein, the monster, in chains. Whatever sin once controlled him is now under his control (because of his new life in Christ). Through his transformation, the monster of wickedness no longer directs him, but he instead controls it, through the POWER of our Lord. Something that is attained through submission to Him (1 Peter 5:6). In this, the chains are off of him and transferred to the enemy instead.
And lastly, at the very end of the show we find Alice dressed in black with white coattails and a white top hat. The top hat has small traces of blood at the very top of it. Does that image not portray a sinner washed white from the blood of our Savior? No longer lost in darkness but instead covered by His majesty? If that wasn’t enough, stop and think about this as well. The very last song of the show is the age-old classic, “School’s Out.” A massive celebration of confetti, huge balloons, and victory are displayed. After learning from the headmaster, our Lord, and facing many lessons, trials, and tribulations on this earth, won’t we all celebrate one day when it is all over? When there’s no more dirty looks, no more harsh lessons, no more pain, no more evil, no more vitriol. When school is indeed “out forever.” However, instead of fearing the headmaster, we are instead embraced by the gifts of eternal life laced with His love. It could just be me…but that’s what I felt like the Alice Cooper show is all about – a celebration of life. A life lived with our Lord. Not some crazy display of evil or demonic ritual, but instead the harsh truth of this life. The choice of eternal salvation that leads us to a life we never dreamed possible. In that choice we find that our Lord has only wanted nothing but the best for us all along. Since we were first formed in our mother’s womb (Jeremiah 1:5). May we all come to see Him and His Love for what they are…a place of solace and shelter. Amen.
That’s it for this week. Be well and catch you next Friday!
Until then, keep Walkin’ in Faith and Rockin’ with Alice!
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