In my younger days when I was a wide-eyed autograph collector I got a tip that Alice Cooper was staying at a local hotel. I grabbed the few remaining Alice LPs that I had and headed out. After several hours of pacing on hot August asphalt it was starting to get early ay-em late; my feet were tired and the excitement of meeting a rock god and getting his autograph on my worn albums was being displaced by how much I wanted to go home and grab a good night’s sleep. I told my buddies, who were feeling the same burn, to wait another ten or fifteen minutes before hanging it up for the night. About two minutes later a black Dodge Challenger came rolling into the parking lot. This had to be Alice, I thought to myself.

Sure enough, both he and his wife get out of the Mad Max-style car and make their way towards me and my buddies. He smiled and stopped to sign whatever we had. He took photos with my buddies. After about fifteen minutes he thanked us and walked into the night with his wife at his side. He’s probably one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met while pursuing an autograph.

Last night he played a sold-out show at Warren’s Packard Music Hall. Wrapped in a black cape, eyes dripping with thickly-applied black mascara, he struck a pose reminiscent of an old Bela Lugosi vampire flick. Wow, he looked a little different than that night long ago. No golf clubs in tow, his wife nowhere near him, and the tepid August humidity was replaced by the cool air conditioning of the old music hall.

The Warren, Ohio venue is quickly becoming the go-to place for great shows in that nether region tucked half-way between Cleveland and Pittsburgh. The shoulder-to-shoulder crowd ate it up. Many of the attendees were also draped in black, their faces ready for Halloween.

The band, many of them not yet born when Alice sprang onto the early ’70s psychedelic scene, tore into Alice’s forty-five year catalogue of hits. The two-hour show had only one misfire: a fan hit a beach ball onto the stage that caught Alice squarely in the face. He looked a little pissed…who wouldn’t be? But otherwise, the show was a trip down a gothic memory lane.

After he wraps up this tour he’s going to head out for a long summer with the Hollywood Vampires, a “supergroup” consisting of Alice, Johnny Depp, Joe Perry and Matt Sorum. Their only Ohio date is in Kettering, Ohio (near Dayton) on July 12th. Tickets for that gig may be found here,