Spirits Moving Musically: Edgar / Alice / Purple Rock the Hollywood Casino Amphitheater

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Edgar Alice Purple concert

Edgar Allen Poe once penned a line, “Quoth the raven, ‘Nevermore.’” Well, last Friday night in Maryland Heights, MO, three of classic rock’s most talented and prolific stars from the 1960’s to present, whom I deem “Edgar Allen Purple,” came together once more, for an outdoor concert at the Hollywood Casino Amphitheater.

The concert started just about on time at 6:30 pm and continued on until past 11:00 pm with a relatively short intermission between set changes. But, before I start my review, can someone tell me when did the price of a t-shirt start costing more than the price of the concert ticket?! Sheesh! $45 dollars for a t-shirt! And then double-sheesh: $15 for a beer! Yikes is all I can say. Well, at least I was able to pick up Alice Cooper’s new double album (on vinyl, of course) for only $30.00. His 27th studio album has new songs as well as unreleased live classic songs (review to follow shortly). Unfortunately I couldn’t afford Deep Purple’s also (and I didn’t see one for Edgar Winter. I’ll have to get them another time.

It was not a sold out show, which surprised me because of the loyal following these three acts have had through the years, and giving it was a great night to be outside. The audience was definitely more on the older side (myself included), which wasn’t surprising, which I liked because I wasn’t forced to stand the whole night. (I have never understood the penchant for standing at a concert. It doesn’t bring you any closer to the act. If there was any benefit to it, I would understand, but there is none that I see.)

Edgar Winter opened up and sounded in great voice--no strain, smooth, as if he just walked out of the 70s. With his long blond hair flowing in the evening breeze, he took the stage and played many of his classics, including Free Ride, Frankenstein and a couple in honor of his late brother, Johnny Winter (Tobacco Road and Rock and Roll Hootchie Koo). Now, the guitar player for his band, Doug Rappoport, is no Johnny Winter (who is?), but let me tell you with these two songs and throughout their set, he in no way embarrassed himself. While his name escaped me, his virtuosity did not. He is an amazing guitar player, and the part of the show where they dueled back and forth between Edgar’s scatting and his playing was jaw-dropping. Edgar, of course played every instrument, from his keyboard sling, to the sax, to the drums--as well as sing. The rest of the band was also very tight, so much so that when they played the classics (including Frankenstein) they sounded like they came right off the radio! He even did a great cover of the Rolling Stones’ Jumpin’ Jack Flash. After his set, he did not do an encore which was sad because they were great.

What was very surprising to me was that Alice Cooper went on stage next. Taking nothing away from Deep purple, but DP is the same as Edgar winter in that they are not groups that put on a flash show, whereas Alice puts on this macabre stage show to go along with the music, and it would have been more apropos to close the show. And after Cooper’s set I was even more adamant about that feeling.

The venue filled up more for Alice’s set, which I found disconcerting because that meant many people didn’t care to hear Edgar Winter and that was a shame because they missed a great act. Cooper hit the stage, and it was balls-to-the-walls from start to finish. Playing hits from his classic albums to his brand new songs, everything from Billion Dollar Babies, No More Mr. Nice Guy, and Cold Ethyl, to Only Women Bleed and Paranormal Personality, and encoring with School’s Out (with a few lines seamlessly working in of Pink Floyd’s Brick In The Wall). With three guitar players (one of whom is Nita Strauss, a woman who can play licks with the best of them), a bassist, drummer and other stage performers and screen imagery, he basically bought the house down.

Alice’s voice was spot on, and his commanding presence on stage is something to see. The images he cuts even when standing still so fit the persona of Alice Cooper and the show that he garners cheers even when he is just standing still as the other musicians play; then he easily grabs the spotlight back, giving an eeriness to the song, say like Cold Ethyl when it is him and a manikin, or with one of the performers in Only Women Bleed, which then gives gave way into an awesome Hammer Horror-style beheading vignette, which then led into the next song. Like I said, he brought the house down.

I kept feeling bad for Deep Purple, who had to go on stage after them. At least there was a break while they broke the large stage set down that let people calm down somewhat.

Deep Purple hit the stage loudly to a raucous applause, and I do mean loudly! It was easily the loudest show of the night. They hadn’t lost their penchant for cranking the amps up to high!

Ian Gillan was in good voice, but of the three lead singers that night, his was a bit strained sounding--mostly I feel because he was trying to keep up with the whole loud thing the band had going on. The current lineup has been together for years--many of whom started with the band back in 68/69, who came, went and came back again, and have been together again for many years (Ian Paice, Roger Glover and Ian Gillan)--and it showed in the way they played. While the entire band played exceptionally well, it was keyboardist Don Airey (who replaced Jon Lord in 2002) who stood out. Don has played with more significant rock bands than I care to type here, but if you don’t know him, you should, and I would suggest looking him up. Chances are if you’re a rock aficionado you already have records he played on by one group or another in your collection. He, like Steve Morse on guitar, is a virtuoso, but Don to me stole the show tonight for the band. His dexterity, passion, and fire on the array of keyboards, synths and processors he had around him was unbelievable to see and hear.

Summing up, it was a great evening of great classic rock by bands whose members can collect social security now, yet still play with the love of the audience in their hearts. They showed they were not just going through the motions, nor were they going to go gently into that good night!

Rating 5 out of 5 for the performance--0 out of 5 for cost of merchandise and alcohol.

5.0 / 5.0