NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE – Fans of rock legend Alice Cooper know there are some aspects to his live shows that they can expect, including a macabre performance of horror theatrics; however, following Alice Cooper’s customary execution via guillotine at his most recent Nashville concert, fans were treated to something rarely seen since 1975. The stage went dark, and the original band, including bassist Dennis Dunaway, guitarist Michael Bruce and drummer Neal Smith reunited with Alice for five classic songs, including “Billion Dollar Babies” and “I’m Eighteen.”
Bandit Lites has been proud to provide the lighting for Alice Cooper for nearly two decades, including his current production of Spend the Night with Alice Cooper which features a lighting design by Joel Reiff and production direction from Alice’s longtime manager Shep Gordon, a person of rock mythos in his own right, as noted by Tour Manager David Davidian.
“Alice and Shep are rock legends in the true sense of the word, but having said that, they are also so current and so savvy about the presentation of their show that we in the rest of the team simply help them to see their ideas visualized,” said Davidian adding, “I am thrilled to be a part of this team. My first exposure to Alice was as an audience member buying a ticket for the 1972 Killer Tour at the Boston Music Hall, which both floored me and scarred me as a youth.”
“Shep is one of the few managers that not only is keyed in to the lighting, but is brilliant at envisioning the entire production,” Reiff said. “Good thing he doesn’t know how to program a console, or I might be slumming it.”
While Reiff is quick to point out that he did not invent the wheel regarding lighting, he certainly “knows how the wheel works” with Martin MAC Viper Profiles providing punch, movement and gobo looks, and Martin MAC Auras giving the majority of the foundation looks, with some on the floor and a couple to wash the massive backdrop of Alice’s striking, charcoal-lined eyes.
Bandit Lites also supplied cyc lights for miscellaneous drops, Solaris Flares for punch and effect, Martin MAC Atomic strobes, Nitro 510C, Color Kinetics Color Blaze 72, Color Dashes and a grand MA 2 lite console for control, while additional lighting support for Reiff comes from Bandit Lites tech, Chas Albea, who Reiff says consistently goes above and beyond.
“Not only is he a part of Alice’s show onstage, he’s the lone Bandit guy out here, meaning he sets up the rig, fixes whatever breaks and deals with whatever changes are thrown at him. All which makes running the show a hell of a lot easier when you’re not worrying about anything aside from, “How is this gonna look?” or “Will I have time to switch the pictures of my horses on the console before doors open?"’
With the show not only consisting of a rock concert but also theatrical stunts, Reiff uses the lighting to direct the spectacle, be it guitar leads, heads being chopped off, Alice being electrocuted or bound in a straitjacket.
“The thrill for me is getting to run lights for songs I grew up on,” Reiff added. “I choose the color palette and looks and whatever flash and trash gets thrown in, but it really all has to come down to the music. Don’t distract from the song! Hopefully, enhance it a little with some eye candy but we don’t want any tails wagging the dog.”
“Joel’s eye for structural design, his color palates and graphic choices as a lighting designer are perfection,” said Davidian. “He is also a meticulous and fast programmer, which are two talents that are rare to find in one person. I am a lightning designer myself, I know what I am looking at, and I am constantly impressed with Joel’s work. Joel does a beautiful job and Alice’s lighting is standout good, thanks to both Shep and Joel.”
With the special addition of the original band members, Reiff had one additional direction from Shep: Make sure they are all bright and can be seen at all times.
“They added “Muscle of Love”, a great song that was a thrill to finally hear live,” Reiff said. “All I did for the original band show was make sure to follow whatever arrangement changes were made, follow the music, and enjoy the ride.”
What makes the production particularly special, is not only the history on stage, but also off the stage, as David Davidian observed saying, “Mike Strickland and Bandit Lites have been friends of mine since 1973 and both the equipment and the people they have sent to me have always been top notch. I have done many tours as a Lighting Designer with Bandit, as well as my current position as Tour Manager; they always take great care of the artist and the lighting designer of the show, their technical support of the tour is impeccable, and they are invested in the show creatively.”
“Simply a team of legendary professionals working with a band of legendary professionals,” added Bandit’s Vice-President Mike Golden. “What more could you ask for?”
Production support for Alice Cooper includes Producer Bob Ezrin, Tour Director Toby Mamis, Production Manager Cesare Sabatini, Alice’s Assistant Kyler Clark and Alice’s wife, Sheryl Cooper as Nurse Sheryl and Broken Ballerina.
(Photos by Kyler Clark of CerealKyler Photography)
About Bandit Lites, Inc.
Bandit Lites is a global leader in the entertainment lighting marketplace. From touring productions to fixed installations, Bandit Lites has a full staff of highly trained professionals to deal with all types of lighting needs. Bandit’s global presence will insure seamless transitions no matter where your next show takes you. More information available at www.BanditLites.com