Alice Cooper may want to call his annual Christmas Pudding a variety show, but the truth is that 2017s show on Dec. 9 was a rock show from start to finish. Cooper has proved that you can never have too many guitarists on stage. The entertainment included Slash from Guns N’ Roses, Rob Halford and Richie Faulkner from Judas Priest, Ace Frehley, Dave Ellefson from Megadeth, Filter plus Alice Cooper and members of his band. All of the entertainers donate their time and talent for the charity event. The show lived up to all expectations and much more.
The Christmas Pudding is one of Cooper’s fundraisers for his Solid Rock Foundation. The foundation sponsors a Phoenix teen center designed to get teens off the streets, away from drugs and other negative influences. The teen center offers education in music, dance, and other arts to attract teens away from the streets. This year the foundation held a ‘Proof Is In the Pudding’ contest for bands to compete for the opening slot of the show.
Money was raised from the ticket sales of the show as well as auctions of rock memorabilia conducted during the show. The items included three original art pieces, Cooper’s leather vest, and a guitar signed by Slash. More than $100,000 was raised from the auctions.
The atmosphere of the show seemed to be much like a family affair. The show started with the Rock Teen Center's percussion ensemble, the Solid Rock Bucket Brigade with the Christmas classic "Joy to the World." Then, Alice and Sheryl Cooper came out with their family and they learned on stage that they were due to have another grandchild. There was a lot of cheering and joy during the moment. The stage was quickly cleared and the ‘Solid Rock Dancers’ took the stage to perform dances from to disco era to more modern times.
The ‘Proof Is In the Pudding’ contest winners were the next performers. First the solo artist winner Ameilia performed an acoustic version of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” It was easy to see why she won the honor with her crystal clear vocals. Next, the band that won the talent contest, Mariachi Juvenil de mi Tierra, performed a medley of more seasonal favorites in a mariachi style.
The alt-metal band Filter started rocking the house with a short set that included their hit songs “Take a Picture” and “Hey Man Nice Shot.”
Gary Mule Deer made two short appearances early in the show. The first time was to warm up the crowd with some jokes. The second time, backed by the house band Nashville’s Sixwire, he sang a couple of Johnny Cash classics. Mule Deer has become a ‘Pudding’ regular performer and he is always a refreshing element.
Ace Frehley took the stage with the house band. Frehley is one of the founding members of KISS. Frehley gave his classic vocal and legendary guitar for another short set. A highlight included was his “Shock Me” as he added a bit of “Day Tripper” and “Secret Agent Man” at the end. His guitar has never sounded better.
Edgar Winter killed it with his three-song set that ended with his classic, “Frankenstein.” The multi-instrumentalist played sax, drums as well as his synthesizer. The crowd was crazed with energy.
The next act was the super band that included Judas Priest vocalist Rob Halford and guitarist Rickie Faulkner, Megadeth’s bassist Dave Ellefson, Cooper’s guitarist, Nita Strauss and drummer, Glen Sobel. Slash played guitar in the opening two songs of the set. Halford displayed his classic showman outfit with a black leather overcoat adorned with metal spikes and long fringes. It was clear from the start that the band was there to rock ‘your face off.’ This was a nirvana set for the fans of the metal Gods of music in the crowd.
As the background for the final set of the night, Cooper and the band finished a 105-date world tour and they arrived in Phoenix from France on Friday night at 10 p.m. Everyone had the opportunity to rehearse the day before the show except Cooper. Cooper is the quintessential showman and he is labeled as the Godfather of shock-rock. There were no props, heavy makeup or typical Cooper wardrobe adornments that have made him famous. He relied on his facial expressions, his music, and his all-star band including Slash on guitar. Songs performed included “Poison,” “School’s Out,” and “I’m Eighteen.” Cooper introduced the last song as a homage to the late Chuck Berry. Cooper proclaimed Berry as “one of the rock and roll greats and the best lyricist of all time.” Everyone joined Cooper for “Run Rudolph Run.” It was an incredible end to the holiday extravaganza.