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Alice Cooper at way more than 18

Is Alice Cooper scary?

Was Alice Cooper ever scary?

Or were we just silly?

If you guessed the last, congratulations. You now have a clear view of the world. Cooper's show _ a slapdash collection of grossouts in the style of the Grand Guignol, magic store illusions and some of the least interesting music this side of your dentist's office _ is relatively intriguing, especially compared to the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disney World. Compared to other music, however, it isn't so interesting.

Cooper, who brought his show to Ruth Eckerd Hall on Thursday, has become the goth Perry Como, trudging out the hits one more time. Though there can be no denying the raw power in a song like I'm 18, hearing a 50-year-old man sing it is at best silly, at worst sad.

After an opening set by Diecast, which stamped out some generic riff-rock, Lennon, billed as a female singer "with an edge," did her set. She at least seemed to be interested in making a connection with the audience. If the music was mostly pedestrian (fake Alanis Morrisette, which is fake Liz Phair), at least some fun seemed to be had.

And then there was Cooper. Pretty good actor, knows how to play up the grossouts, not specifically an awful singer, he's what he has always been: a relatively entertaining middle class punk who found a style to ride and rides it still.

But especially compared with current events, Cooper waving around a samurai sword just isn't very frightening, or even interesting.

Scattered among the cuts from Cooper's later albums like raisins in Cream of Wheat were the hits. You got to hear School's Out, No More Mr. Nice Guy, I'm 18, Only Women Bleed, Teenage Frankenstein.

Cooper is a complete entertainer, determined to give us our money's worth. You've got to admire that, and his guillotine gag still looks pretty good.

But finally, the Stevie Nicks rule comes into play: Trust not an artist with more costume changes than chord changes.