Released on October 20th 2014 'Raise The Dead: Live From Wacken' is a live album and film recorded at the Wacken Open Air festival on August 3rd 2013. The release includes the whole show but the DVD/Blu-Ray misses 'Revolution' and 'Foxy Lady' from the 'Raise The Dead' covers section of the show. The album was released as part a series of Wacken performances with a portion of the proceeds going to the Wacken Foundation, whose goal is to support the growth of new hard rock and heavy metal bands.
Original release: October 20th 2014 (USA: 21st October)
Recorded live recorded at the Wacken Open Air festival on August 3rd 2013
Record Label: UDR
Producer: Christine Stephen
Audio Mixed by Tommy Henriksen
Mixed at Anarchy Studios LA and Switzerland
Editing: Scott Mckay Gibson and Tommy Henriksen
Mastered by Michael 'Miro' Rudenberg
Mastered at GateStudio, Wolfsburg, Germany
Film Crew: Nice Productions GMBH/Lars Oliver Vogt
Cover Design: Kai Swillus
Book Design: Jonathan Stenger
Video Editing and Authoring: Arne Lipke
Photography: Dirk Illing, Kai Swillus, Ofaf Mahlzahn, Holgar Richtner, Thomas Baterman
When the 'No More Mr Nice Guy' tour came to a close at the Bloodstock Open Air festival in August 2012 Alice wasn't yet ready to return to the studio. In fact it would still be another 5 years before he would release a new Alice Cooper album. However he did have plans. Since meeting actor Johnny Depp on the set of the 'Dark Shadows' movie the pair had kept in touch and the subject had inevitably turned to music. Depp was one of the most popular actor in the world, but that all happened almost by accident. The story goes that he moved to Los Angeles to become a professional musician, and it was purely by chance he got his first role in 'A Nightmare On Elm Street'. He was living with his friend, actor Nicholas Cage, and was short of cash, so Cage suggested he contacted his agent, to see if he could get any movie work to tide him over. The agent sent to read for John Carpenter's new project and Depp was as surprised as anyone when he got the role in what would become 'A Nightmare On Elm Street', the first film in the Freddy Krueger francise and a box off smash. Johnny's musical ambitions then had to be put on hold as his acting career grew bigger and bigger, but all through what he really wanted to do was play guitar in a band. Alice, always on the lookout for good publicity, saw an opportunity.
Alice and Johnny started planning a new project, The Hollywood Vampires, but with Alice's constant touring and Depp's heavy filming schedule it was almost impossible to get together to work seriously. Alice had already been talking about the project to the press and his mind was locked into the idea of paying tribute to his 'Dead Drunk Friends', the rock stars who had passed away through drink or drugs, many of whom Alice had known personally. He decided to try out the idea with a couple of small shows, one at the tiny 100 Club in Oxford Street, London, and a second at the famous Whiskey-A-Go-Go in Hollywood. The idea was to just get up and play old cover songs, no theatrics, no make up, just Alice chatting to the audience and playing some of his favourite songs. The shows were a huge success with Depp showing up at the 100 Club to play along with the band. So Alice and Shep thought "people really like this idea, we should do it in the Alice Cooper show".
What they failed to understand is that fans loved the idea of Alice doing these shows because they were small, intimate, and different. Alice playing covers in a tiny sweaty club was truly something special. Putting those covers into a proper Alice Cooper show, in place of Alice's own songs, was a very different thing. Of course Alice had included covers before, in encores where they were just a bit of fun after the main show was complete, but this time they were actually going to replace Alice's own songs, the songs the fans were paying to hear, with songs by other bands as the centerpiece to the show. It was madness, but that's what they did, and I'll go into more detail about the show below.
By the time they played the Wacken festival in Germany, where this set was recorded, the band were about as tight and honed as they could ever be. Wacken was the biggest heavy metal festival in Europe and Alice took it by storm. This double CD/DVD/Blu-ray box set appeared with little fanfare over a year after the performance and was part of a series of releases to raise funds for the Wacken Foundation, a organisation that worked to support the growth of hard rock and metal bands in Germany. The original box set is simply gorgeous. The box itself is the size of an LP record and inside is a hardback book, 2 CDs, a DVD, a Blu-ray disc, and a triple blood stained vinyl set in a tri-fold sleeve (and extra inner sleeves for the actual records), all showing yet more photos from the show. It's a marvelous item to have.
A cut down version was later released with just the CDs and DVD in a standard case, but the vinyl set is the one you really want to have.
The 'Raise The Dead' tour began with a public rehearsal in Verona, New York, and the following day Alice fan sites and forums lit up with the news that there were SIX cover songs in the show. Were they serious?? The next show to be played was the opening night of the 2012 UK tour, one of Alice's traditional strongholds, and we went to the show dreading what was about to happen. The show opened well enough with 'Hello Hooray' and 'House Of Fire', running through hits and new songs as if everything was perfectly fine. Sure, the band hadn't quite hit their best - it was the first proper show and it always takes a few nights to get back in the grove - but there was a strange atmosphere in the hall. Then, after the FrankenAlice left the stage, a voice came over the PA to introduce the 'Raise The Dead' section of the show and they hit into 'Break On Through', the Doors classic. It was terrible. The audience, many of whom of course didn't know what had happened at the dress rehearsal, just watched in confusion, and from the front I caught one band members eye and he discreetly shrugged, as if to say "what can I do?" 'Backdoor Man' followed, another Doors song, as Alice stood behind a gravestone to his dead friend Jim Morrison. It seemed to go on forever. They followed that with The Beatles' 'Revolution' - Roxie trying to make the most of playing a song he obviously loved.. but it wasn't working. The general audience was starting to talk and go for beers, and the hardcore fans at the front were just baffled. And it didn't stop there.. 'Foxy Lady' came next giving Orianthi a chance to play her best Hendrix impressions, and the whole thing finally came to close with The Who's 'My Generation'. They closed out with 'Poison' and 'School's Out' but by then they'd already lost. Out of the 150 plus Alice Cooper shows I've seen this is the ONLY one I would ever name as being bad. It wasn't that the band played badly, they didn't. Nor was it that Alice wasn't on form, he was. It was the covers. The fans didn't want them and the band didn't really want them either.. and it showed.
Alice saw it as well. The following night in Wolverhampton 'Back Door Man' was thankfully jettisoned for good (The Who's 'I Can See For Miles' was the sixth cover played in Verona, but that was dropped the same night) and everything was tightened up a bit. It was certainly much better. A few days after the UK dates concluded Shep Gordon sent me an email to post on the site, explaining the idea behind the 'Raise The Dead' section of the show:
The changes, which included bring back the guillotine, did help a great deal, and by the US tour the whole segment worked much better. The 'Raise The Dead' section apparently went down better in the US then had in Europe anyway, but then America had rock radio stations where these songs were played constantly. Europe, and especially the UK, really had no 24 hour rock radio to speak of. Maybe that was part of the difference. Whatever the reasons Alice stuck with the 'Raise The Dead' section of the show for the next five years but the fact remained, it didn't feel right to be watching Alice performing covers instead of 'My Stars', 'Elected', or any number of his own songs he could have played instead.
The 'Raise The Dead' show opened with a short burst of 'Hello Hooray', the front curtain dropping to reveal Alice and the band under a shower of sparks falling from the front lighting rig. Alice is in a garish red and black striped suit with large skull belt buckles. The stage has various doll heads, masks and other creepy stuff littered around. The backdrop looks cool, but unfortunatly it's almost impossible to work out what it actually is! I believe it's meant to look like a corridor leading to a tomb, but honestly it's hard to tell. Oh, and Glen has a nice new drum kit, red and black to match Alice's suit!
Of course Orianthi is immediatly noticable, being a woman and of course looking stunning. By now she was getting into the swing of things with blood stains on her face and arms and a blood splattered guitar. Many people didn't take to her presence on stage. She often came across as acting rather snobbish, like she felt she was too good to be playing this sort of stuff. It was a shame as much of it was simply part of the show, a character she was playing for Alice to play against. Away from the stage she was pretty shy and quiet much of the time, and if you caught her after a show (often not the easiest of thing to do) she would always be happy to chat and sign things.
The band proceed through 'House Of Fire', 'No More Mr Nice Guy', and 'Under My Wheels' in swift order before 'I'll Bite Your Face Off' gives Alice his first chance to really play off Orianthi, singing the words to her as she looks on with disdain. She storms across the stage with Alice chasing her. 'Billion Dollar Babies' follows with the money sword, then 'Caffeine' with Alice wandering the stage holding his head. He picks up a over-sized coffee cup and at the end of the song he pours the confetti contents onto the front rows. 'Department Of Youth' leads into 'Hey Stoopid' and on into 'Dirty Diamonds' with the necklaces and solos for Glen and Orianthi, serving as Alice's mid-set break.
The backdrop changes as thunder roars and 'Welcome To My Nightmare' begins, Alice appears at the back of the stage in an extremely tall tattered top hat. He walks to the front and draws a knife, waving it around before sticking it into the stage. 'Go To Hell' has the stage flooded with dark green and red lights, Alice shaking his maraccas. He brings out his bull whip, flicking it at Tommy and Ryan in turn.
A surprise edition to the show was 'He's Back', a song rarely played anywhere but Scandinavia for many years. The all guitar arrangement surpassing the original album version. The intro to 'Feed My Frankenstein' reveals Alice in a bloody lab coat ready to run through the FrankenAlice routine. This time 'Igor' appears with a friend, pulling a new Frankenstein machine. Alice dons a gas mask and stand against the new device, which starts to smoke and spark. There's a flash of light and Alice disappears, the giant FrankenAlice appearing to finish the song.
'The Ballad Of Dwight Fry' begins on tape with the child's voices calling out "mommy, where's daddy?" before Ryan comes in on guitar. The nurse and her goons arrive and place Alice in the straitjacket. He escapes and goes to strangle her, but she pulls a pair of knives and stabs him first. As the final section of 'Killer' plays the guillotine is wheeled out and he's quickly dispatched to 'I Love The Dead'.
The stage goes dark and a tape loop from 'Under My Bed' plays, overdubed with a child saying 'da da'.. Alice is wheeled back to the stage on a stretcher, awaking as a voice announced "Alice.. Alice.. what are you doing here? Once again you've cheated death.. how fitting that you should end up in the graveyard of the Hollywood Vampires with all of your dead drunk friends... You are living on borrowed time Alice... So what are you going to do? Raise the dead?"
The stage now has gravestones around it, each marked with the name of a famous star who died. The back drop has also changed and now highlights the name of whichever dead friend Alice is currently singing for. First up is 'Break On Through' for Jim Morrison of The Doors, then 'Revolution' by the Beatles with Alice in John Lennon glasses. 'Foxy Lady' has Orianthi paying tribute to Hendrix, while 'My Generation' is for drummer Keith Moon. On later shows The Doors song included 'Five To Four', The Hendrix song became 'Manic Depression' while Lennon had 'Cold Turkey' and Moon had 'Pinball Wizard'. Finally be the very end of the 'Raise The Dead' period Lemmy was honoured with 'Ace Of Spades' (sung mainly by Chuck) and Bowie with 'Suffragette City' after they had both passed away suddenly.
Once the covers were over 'I'm Eighteen' attempted to pull the audience attention back to the present with 'Poison', 'Under My Wheels' and School's Out' completing the show. Originally only 'Poison' and 'School's Out' came after the 'Raise The Dead' section, but that really wasn't enough and the show ended rather flatly. Adding more Alice songs helped build the show back up a great deal.
The basic 'Raise The Dead' setup lasted over 5 years, as it was still being included during the first part of the 'Spend The Night With Alice Cooper' tour whihch followed it. There were many song changes here and there, backdrops and stage dresssing changed a little, and the covers changed, but it was basically the same show. For the hardcore fans who went to every show they could it was starting to become too predictable. Of course once you were there the shows were still great fun, but things really needed to be changed long before they actually were.
There was one last shake up before the 'Raise The Dead' era came to a close. In early June 2014 Orianthi announced she was leaving the band. She'd met ex-Bon Jovi guitarist Richie Sambora and they where now a couple. She wanted to do her own thing including an album with Sambora which was finally released in 2018.
As much as Orianthi had become a popular member of the band Alice really hit gold with her replacement. Just four days after Orianthi's last show 'Hurricane' Nita Strauss was announced as the new guitarist in Alice's band. Nita was almost the complete oppersite of Orianthi. While Orianthi was influenced by Santana and the blues greats, Nita was a pure shredder - the more notes the better. Where Orianthi moved around gracefully with her long velvet coats and puffed up hair, Nita was tornado in spandex who never stopped moving. She exploded onto the stage all smiles and poses and she seemed to fit in with the rest of the band like the final piece of a puzzle no one knew was really missing. Plus she could play anything put in front of her. While Alice has never had a less then steller live band, Nita took them to the next level... And Alice knew it.
Because the 'Raise The Dead' section of the show was included for so long there were many, many changes, with songs moving in and out of the set or simply changing positions. There were also the shorter shows played on the package tours with Marilyn Manson and Motley Crue. You can see detailed setlist for every show shows by clicking here
The following songs were played at EVERY show between 2012 and October 30th 2016:
This next set of songs were performed for extended periods of time during the 'Raise The Dead' period:
While the 'Raise The Dead' section started off as six songs, two were dropped in the first two shows. After that there were three versions, each replacing the previous one:
And finally we're left with other songs that were played over the 'Raise The Dead' years.
These were only played at headline shows: