Alice Cooper with Cheap Trick at the Docks (11 Polson), Monday (August 22). $58.50. 416-870-8000. Rating: NNNNN
Some 40 years into his career, the revered Alice Cooper talks about performing like he's still got something to prove.
"My incentive right before I go onstage is to kill this audience and make them forget they've seen any other act," he says on the phone from Reykjavik.
This from the man who revolutionized the art of shock rock decades before the likes of Marilyn Manson and who long ago proved himself an innovative showman.
He can't have any rust on him. In the last 30 years he's taken only one year off.
"It's what I do. And maybe it's a late-life energy spurt, but I'm in better shape now than I've ever been."
That spurt is probably also responsible for Cooper's musical output in recent years, including an impressive four new albums in the last five years.
His latest offering, Dirty Diamonds, finds Cooper going back to his garage rock roots by writing a bare-bones rock album.
"I tried to go anti-production on it by saying let's put the pressure on the songwriting and on the performance."
The new approach worked well for Cooper and his band, who wrote the entire album from scratch in just 14 days.
"We'd write a song in the morning, take a lunch break, then record it in the evening and put it to bed."
Decades after his risqué, parent-hated performances, Cooper admits that it's just not possible to shock an audience in 2005 like it was in the 70s.
"I'm not as shocking as I used to be, because the world is shock-proof. You turn on CNN and when a guy is really getting his head cut off on television, it's hard to shock an audience with a guillotine onstage."
Cooper knew the only way to keep going was to get out of the shock business and into entertainment.
The latest incarnation of his live show is everything from sexy to creepy to just plain ridiculous.
Just to show that he hasn't lost his balls, though, he offers some friendly advice for Norwegian black metal band Mayhem, whose members were rumoured years ago to have eaten parts of their singer's brain after he shot himself in the head.
"I don't know if anybody's gonna top that. The only thing is, if you're going to eat your lead singer, eat your lead singer onstage."