Concert Review: Alice Cooper's Christmas Pudding

Categories: Concert Review
Luke Holwerda
Alice Cooper performs at the 2009 installment of his annual Christmas Pudding charity show.
By Lindsey Holder

Friday night was the ninth installment of Alice Cooper's Christmas Pudding, though speaking in Christmas/culinary terms, it was really more of a fruitcake, with ingredients both numerous and diverse mingling to create a final product I would definitely try to re-gift. The differences between the acts on stage varied wildly, from a magician to acoustic rock to Lita Ford and Dee Snider to a guy from American Idol. There was a comedian, a ventriloquist, a dance performance, and naturally, Alice Cooper himself performing. The show was held to benefit a teen center that will help teach almost all aspects of the music industry, from performance to production. I can only hope they teach these kids Alice's showmanship, because after all these years, he was still the best act on stage.

Alice Cooper's Christmas Pudding certainly eschewed all the traditional expectations of a holiday performance, substituting stilted choirs in starched robes singing Handel's Messiah for the joyous River of Life Choir singing to the rafters, rejoicing in the season. Instead of the Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy, we were given Gary Mule Deer, a weathered-looking comedian making drunk driving jokes (really? With Sheriff Joe on the loose?). And instead of "Silent Night," we were given Warrant singing "Cherry Pie" and "Uncle Tom's Cabin." Despite the fact that the lead singer has changed (Jani Lane replaced by Robert Mason, who looks suspiciously like Joan Rivers and Carson Kressley from Queer Eye had a baby), they still prompted my date to update his Facebook status to reflect that they've "still got it!"
Luke Holwerda
Alice Cooper and Roger Clyne hang out backstage at Christmas Pudding 2009.
I grew up in Colorado Springs, home of mega-churches and Focus on the Family, so the entire show kind of gave me the creepy "come to Jesus" feeling I've grown accustomed to over the years. A video about the teen center had the vibe of going to a timeshare sales-pitch for the Lord, and Alice's son's band, Runaway Phoenix, performed a song about the tug of war between choosing the right path and the wrong path. Ok, Elmer Gantry, I got it, don't try to trick me into this by sounding secular.

The evening featured numerous local acts, including the winners of Alice's The Proof is in the Pudding contest, which a pre-Idol Jordin Sparks won several years ago, and Tempe mainstays Roger Clyne & the Peacemakers, as well as Scott MacIntyre, another Phoenician American Idol contestant, singing original songs from his Christmas EP, Christmas Angel. The night also featured a dance performance by the Solid Rock Dancers, the troupe out of Alice's teen center.

The evening was well attended and well received, but it wasn't my particular brand of Yuletide cheer. While a show of hands in the crowd revealed that a large portion of the audience had attended the event in previous years, and while some of the acts were actually quite good (Proof is in the Pudding winners Buskin Cuffs, who are all under 18, were better than most of the acts on stage), I just kept thinking I was at this show because I was on the Naughty List.

Critic's Notebook

Last Night: Alice Cooper's Christmas Pudding at Dodge Theatre

Personal Bias
: I used to listen to Alice's radio show and I think he's smart and well spoken, so I really wanted to like the show, but the Alice Cooper Band was the only part of the evening that blew me away.

Better than: Going to church to be preached to.

Random Fact: Pudding was actually provided to the audience.

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