PAM WHISENHUNT | Go Venue Magazine
The Freaks on Parade Tour with Rob Zombie and Alice Cooper closed out the Azura Amphitheatre’s 2023 concert season on September 15th, 2023.
Things started off great when I arrived in Bonner Springs, Kansas; beautiful summer skies and temps in the low 80s. As I walked through the amphitheater grounds, I noticed tweens to septuagenarians filling the seats. This tour hit all the early metal eras from the 1960s to 2000s and the crowd reflected this span. It was gonna be a fantastic summer night for a rock show.
Filter, emerging from the early 90s, were the young bloods of the night. Filter started off with three new songs from their album The Algorithm. Richard Patrick (lead vocals) said, “that’s what we’re here for, to spread new music”. The crowd wasn’t having it. It took a bit for them to warm up, but they obliged Patrick’s request for a sing along, wrapping up their six-song set with “Hey Man Nice Shot”; a Classic 90s rock single right there.
Ministry, formed in the early 80s, is considered an Industrial Metal pioneer. I personally don’t know Ministry’s music, so when I looked them up, I was surprised by their expansive discography. They whittled down their options to eight songs. They apparently picked wisely, as the pit was into it. They closed out their set with a new single, “Goddamn White Trash”. It actually slammed. I dug it.
Alice Cooper, the senior artist on this tour, started his career in the early 60s. Cooper and his staying power put on a theatrical show with all the classic over-the-top shock rock goodies; swords, snakes, straitjacket, hooded executioners and an oversized inflatable Frankenstein. You know, all the classics. If his set doesn’t get you ready to pull out the Halloween décor, nothing will. Cooper even brought his wife on stage. At one point, Sheryl Cooper, dressed as Marie Antoinette, snagged her husbands “head” from a guillotine and gave it a kiss.
To Cooper’s merit, he surrounds himself with talented musicians. His team shreds. In addition to Glen Sobel (drums) Cooper has four members on strings, Chuck Garric (bass), Ryan Roxie (guitar), Tommy Henriksen (rhythm and lead guitar) and Nita Strauss (lead and rhythm guitar). I was blown away with how good they sounded, how they worked the stage and how well they play off each other, but Nita Strauss stole the show. Strauss has a dynamic, fresh allure that grabbed my attention.
As we were waiting for Rob Zombie to take the stage it started to drizzle which quickly turned to steady rain. Rob Zombie started his career in the mid 80s. He’s been a lover of all thing’s hell, horror and the supernatural and his stage show reflects it. I caught his Freaks on Parade tour last year; some songs rotated and Piggy D changed up his masks, but the stage show stayed pretty much the same. Zombie started the show on a large “Zombie” platform, while vibrant graphics were displayed on large screens in the back. Zombie made his way across the stage by stepping on three large platforms. He whipped his hair and fringe jacket around while showing us his signature dance moves. The most notable difference in the set is the guitarist swap. John 5 was picked up to tour with Mötley Crüe, so Mike Riggs rejoined the band. Riggs has worked with Zombie in the past, so isn’t a stranger.
Zombie commented on the rain several times, at one point referencing Taylor Swifts’ 3-hour show in the rain. “Big whoop!” he said. He suggested doing a “Bruce Springsteen” show and playing for 4 hours, but quickly backtracked, mentioning the $10,000 fine for violating the noise ordinance. Then he joked, “unless you all want to pitch in” to pay the fine. Needless to say, Zombie wrapped up his set a couple songs later, ending the show in a timely fashion. Rob Zombie and whoever he brings on his Freaks on Parade is always a good time and prime entertainment. If you’ve never seen Rob Zombie, I’d recommend catching them next time they’re in town.