Utica’s Stanley Theatre hadn’t hosted a live music event since February 2020. On Wednesday night, the newly renovated marquee lit up Genesee Street to welcome two legends of hard rock, Alice Cooper and Ace Frehley.
Frehley, one of the founding members of KISS, opened the show with a set heavy on KISS’s greatest hits, treating the faithful to true-to-form renditions of “Cold Gin,” “Parasite,” “Rocket Ride,” “Strutter” and the classic “Detroit Rock City.” He punctuated the set with several covers, including Mountain’s “Never in My Life,” Led Zeppelin’s “Good Times Bad Times” and his trademark Russ Ballard hit “New York Groove.”
The KISS legend closed his set with “Shock Me,” including a trademark Frehley guitar solo, that led into “Cold Gin,” Black Diamond” and finally finishing with “Deuce.”
The near-capacity crowd was enthusiastic throughout Frehley and his band’s set, setting the tone for Alice Cooper’s dramatic set to follow.
Cooper is often credited with creating the genre known as “shock rock,” in the early ’70s. This genre took rock and roll and added a theatrical and macabre touch to present as much shock to the audience as was deemed legal. His shows feature such theatrics as Cooper lying his neck under a guillotine.
Compared to the acts he has influenced over the years, Cooper’s set these days may seem tame. But one cannot help but feel a bit anxious as Cooper lays his head down beneath the “blade” as it is quickly released to give the appearance of a beheading. This is an act that has been done many many times over the decades yet never gets old.
Cooper knows how to thrill an audience and he also knows how to put together a truly kick-ass band. His current band consists of Glen Sobel, a monster on drums, Tommy Henriksen on rhythm and lead guitar, Ryan Roxie on lead and rhythm guitar, Chuck Garric on bass, and the dynamic Nita Strauss on lead and rhythm guitar. Strauss stole the show with her stage antics and guitar shredding and provided many great photo opportunities.
The Stanley Theatre is officially back hosting live music again and booking these two rock legends to perform the first show after the shutdown was a genius move.