Alice Cooper generous with Christmas Pudding

Johnny Depp stands next to Alice Cooper as Orianthi performs her solo on the cat walk. (Photo courtesy of Mike Brilliant)

It was as if God himself had spoken. The voice of the great J. Peterman from “Seinfeld” rang through the venue, jolting crowd members awake.

“I am the grim reaper of television. The wee hours of the morning are my hours, the John O’Hurley hours. I have gained the ultimate celebrity status,” he said.

There was an ominous pause and a wink in his voice when he said, “And a celebrity does things that they have no business doing.”

So here he was, John O’Hurley, hosting the 12th annual Alice Cooper Christmas Pudding on Saturday night. He was doing a damn good job, because this year’s pudding was, in the words of Cooper himself, “Something you don’t know the ingredients of.”

O’Hurley, joined by celebrity magician Murray SawChuck — a larger-than-life cartoon character who described his appearance as, “If Andy Warhol and Lady Gaga had a baby” — acted as MC’s for the variety show that occurred before the rockers took the stage.

In true variety show fashion, O’Hurley and SawChuck introduced a random array of acts, including a puzzling performance by two Broadway stars, who kicked off the next five hours with a cabaret rendition of a Kelly Clarkson song. What followed was a pleasant yet never-ending pre-show of dancers from the Solid Rock Foundation, an effort to showcase to which charity the generous contributors had donated.

The Solid Rock Foundation provides a place where troubled teens can learn how to play instruments instead of joining a gang. The benefit concert raised over $2 million for what Cooper calls “the glorious racket.”

“Someone’s got to sort of come to the rescue. And to me, music is what rescues. Music is the common denominator,” Cooper said in a press conference Friday.

The crowd was getting antsy for some real celebrity action, and when hard-rock band CO-Op sauntered on stage, it was a dream come true. Headed by vocalist Dash Cooper, who produced a sound rougher than his namesake, the band rocked with father and son in harmony and was joined by two talented 13-year-old guitarists from Solid Rock.

The world’s fastest painter Rock Demarco created a masterful interpretation of Cooper live on stage in just under six minutes. The painting was then auctioned off for $8,000. The live auction, which raised about $80,000 for Cooper’s foundation, also included a painting of Johnny Depp and several guitars signed by various artists at the concert.

After intermission, which was an obvious divide between the amateurs and the celebrities, L.A. Guns gave a brief performance and ended its set after two or three songs.

O’Hurley hopped back on stage to give the audience what it was yearning for — some comic relief and a photo opportunity.

“Want to take a photo? Here, I’ll just stand here. Remember, we have a good side, and then we have a great side,” O’Hurley said.

Up next was Sebastian Bach, best remembered as frontman of Skid Row and supporting actor on the popular television series “Gilmore

Sebastian Bach leaped off-stage Saturday night and onto the table of contributors of Alice Cooper’s Solid Rock Foundation.  He gracefully landed in the spotlight. (Photo by Mike Brilliant)

Girls.” Whipping his signature blonde locks about during the hit “18 and Life,” Bach used his old-school rock energy to turn the concert up about 60 notches.

Don Felder from the Eagles, Orianthi and L.A. Guns all collaborated on a few songs, including the crowd-mover “Hotel California.” Orianthi, with her great ease in handling the electric guitar, is best known for being the lead guitarist during Michael Jackson’s final tour and now the lead guitarist for Cooper’s live band.

When the devil himself finally came out to play, he was in full makeup and dressed in a red and black pinstripe suit. Fittingly, Cooper and the band played “No More Mr. Nice Guy” as its opener, showing Cooper’s everlasting strength in vocals. Cooper knew what the audience wanted and delivered it promptly.

“In the ’70s, I had a lot of drunk friends. Four of them are dead,” Cooper solemnly told the crowd. “Let’s pay tribute to my four drunk dead friends.”

An awkward pause ensued until a beret-clad Johnny Depp humbly emerged from the shadows of the right wing to whistles and roaring applause. The audience fought for a better view of Depp throughout “Break on Through (To the Other Side)” and “Poison.”

The Cooperettes joined the gang for “Schools Out,” the lyrics of which Cooper never actually experienced.

“I was one of those kids that didn’t have a problem in school or was bullied or anything like that, but I could see it, and so a writer writes about what he sees,” Cooper said during the press conference.

As is Christmas Pudding’s tradition, the finale was a giant jam session with every major artist from the evening contributing to “Run, Run Rudolph.” Fake snow was falling, FrankenSanta was terrorizing the stage and all was right in one of the coolest combination endings in Pudding history.

The verdict is in and the proof is in the pudding: Alice Cooper still rocks.

 

Reach the reporter at ljlieber@asu.edu