Alice Cooper and his famous friends rocked out in Mesa while raising money for a good cause
It's pretty tough to follow "School's Out" at an Alice Cooper concert.
But seeing Patrick Warburton — that's the guy who played Puddy on "Seinfeld" — really lean into the vocals of the Doors song "Roadhouse Blues" on a stage overflowing with vocalists whose livelihood depends on being singers while Larry the Cable Guy shouts into another mic?
That's exactly the sort of spontaneous free-for-all Cooper envisions when he's thumbing through his Rolodex — as he describes the process — to assemble the talent for a show as wild as Coopstock 2, the latest benefit for Alice Cooper's Solid Rock Teen Centers.
The fun those musicians had letting their hair down for a good cause while jamming with others they may not have even met if Cooper hadn't brought them all together on one stage is as contagious as intended.
Saturday's lineup at Las Sendas Golf Club in Mesa was the usual unusual assortment Cooper tends to gather, from R.E.M. bassist Mike Mills to the singers of Creed, Collective Soul and Judas Priest to the musical comedy of Gary Mule Deer.
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Solid Rock Teen Centers students also took the stage
The students who spend their afternoons at Cooper's Solid Rock Teen Centers were given ample opportunities to show how much they've learned, from the Solid Rock Dancers to two bands playing songs that ranged from Queen and David Bowie's "Under Pressure" to the Stevie Wonder classics "Superstition" and "I Wish."
There were several breaks in the musical action to underscore the importance of the work they're doing at those Solid Rock Teen Centers.
The idea is to raise funds, after all, which also meant a series of live auctions that pulled in substantial sums of money for the centers.
An Alice Cooper toolbox filled with more than $8,000 worth of Snap-on tools sold for $25,000. A week in Patrick "Puddy" Warburton's Oregon cabin earned another $20k.
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Mills sang R.E.M. hits 'Losing My Religion' and 'The One I Love'
The shock-rock legend and his guests were backed by Nashville's Sixwire, a hyper-talented group of musicians that's served in that capacity at Cooper's benefits for several years.
And it was obvious how they became his go-to band while effortlessly shifting gears from backing Gary Mule Deer's Johnny Cash to breaking out a mandolin when Mills did "Losing My Religion" and rocking with total conviction as the show grew heavier.
Mills also did "The One I Love," another song originally sung by Michael Stipe, clearly favoring hits the crowd might recognize over songs more commonly associated with his contributions to the band.
And truthfully, it didn't strike me as the place to bust out "Texarkana," either.
Collective Soul's Ed Roland was as commanding a presence in Mesa as he was at Cooper's Christmas Pudding in December, leading Sixwire through the same three post-grunge smashes ("Heavy," "December" and "Shine").
The man has all the greatest stage moves and apparently at least two awesome suits — the one he wore Saturday and the one from Christmas Pudding.
Creed's Scott Stapp brought all the drama you'd expect to the proceedings as he dusted off a handful of his old band's biggest hits, from "Higher" and "My Sacrifice" to the double-platinum chart-topper "With Arms Wide Open."
"I think you might've heard this next song a couple of times," he said before "With Arms Wide Open."
Like Roland, Stapp set time aside to share his admiration for the man who put the show together, praising "what he does to change young people's lives" and briefly summing up that admiration with "What an amazing human being."
Alice Cooper followed Judas Priest's Rob Halford
A part-time Paradise Valley resident for more than 30 years, Rob Halford more than lived up to his reputation as the Metal God.
After setting the tone for his four-song performance with "Heading Out on the Highway," he told the crowd, "This next song is the anthem of my local police department, the Paradise Valley PD."
With that, the stage was set for a raucous performance of "Breaking the Law," which gave way to a massive singalong on "Living After Midnight" and the only song that could've followed that, "You've Got Another Thing Coming."
That left Cooper, the man of the hour.
And he more than rose to the occasion.
Fleshing out the ranks of Sixwire with his trusty touring bassist Chuck Garric, his wife Sheryl Cooper and their daughter Calico Cooper joining in on backing vocals, Cooper set the tone with "No More Mr. Nice Guy" and another early classic, "Be My Lover."
Fans crowded the stage and sang along as Cooper reached back to the early '90s for "Lost in America" and whipped out his harmonica for "Fallen in Love," a blues-rocking highlight of 2017's "Paranormal."
Then, he asked the crowd, "Anybody out there 18? I'm not talking about your IQ."
That, of course, could only mean he was about to play his breakthrough single "I'm Eighteen."
After checking to see if he had time to squeeze a song into the set, he shared another staple from the early years, "Under My Wheels," before telling the crowd, "If you don't know this next song, you didn't go to school."
The joyous rendition of "School's Out" that followed, complete with the detour he's taken to taking through a chorus of Pink Floyd's “Another Brick in the Wall Part 2,” was the crowd-pleasing triumph it was meant to be.
That's when he called the whole gang back on stage to join him on a Doors song, grinning ear to ear as the rock-and-roll madness unfolded around him.
It wasn't necessarily polished much less pretty but it damn sure felt like rock and roll. And that's all Cooper really wanted.
Alice Cooper setlist
"No More Mr. Nice Guy"
"Be My Lover"
"Lost in America"
"Fallen in Love"
"Under My Wheels"
"Roadhouse Blues" (with everyone)
Reach the reporter at email@example.com or 602-444-4495. Follow him on Twitter @EdMasley.
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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Alice Cooper's 'Coopstock' fundraiser aided Solid Rock Teen Centers