Critics have lauded the show by rock's progenitor of gnarly theatricality in no uncertain terms. Stephanie De Pasquale, writing in Davenport, Iowa's Quad City Times raved, "Alice Cooper's Theatre of Death is hands down the best concert I have ever seen...There's nothing that Disney would approve of...Between Cooper's energy and the driving music that never stops, Theatre of Death is one fast ride from beginning to end. It left the crowd of 12,000 screaming for more...The show was just amazing." Kansas City Confidential's Brian McTavish observed, "The master of mayhem and his killer four-man band decimated the sold-out Star Pavilion with a meticulously executed rock-theater extravaganza."
While critics and fans, clearly, have no problem with Alice's over-the-top spectacle, a venue operator in Tampere, Finland has put the kibosh on Alice's scheduled performance at Tampere Arena originally set for December 11. After a legal contract was consummated with Kalle Keskinen of Speed Promotion, a local concert promoter, Alice's management were informed that the organization that owns and operates the facility, which typically hosts hockey games, is based on "Christian values" and will not permit performances which may be construed as insulting to Christianity, spelled out as follows:
"Performances including representation of false gods, demons, evilness and forces of darkness and all these kind of symbols, words or markings are highly prohibited. These rules are valid also in all of the advertisement and material related to the concert. Breaking this rule causes immediate cancellation of the contract, and a 100 000 € penalty fee."
Harri Wiherkoski, managing director of Tampere Areena Oy (Tampere Arena Limited) noted, "Artists who express suspicious values from Christianity's point of view cannot be allowed to perform at the venue." He told a Finnish reporter "We don't arrange concerts where Satanism or non-god-worshipping occurs."
Cooper's management and the concert's promoters have been forced to relocate the show to Barona Arena in Espoo, a western suburb of Helsinki, 110 miles south of Tampere. Residents of Tampere will be offered a discount on tickets in recognition of the great distance they must travel to catch the show. Management for Alice issued the following statement:
"We hope fans from Tampere denied access to these 'suspicious values' can come to Helsinki and make their own judgment. What's really 'suspicious' to us is the act of judging something that one has never seen, heard or, otherwise, experienced. There's nothing like an open mind and, clearly, Mr. Wiherkoski has nothing like one."
When he was asked to comment on the Tampere imbroglio, Alice Cooper turned the other cheek.
Alice Cooper has long been the focus of forces of censorship and has endured bans and censorship dating back more than 35 years. In 1972 British decency in the media crusader successfully got the BBC to ban the video for "Schools Out." (Ironically, Alice performed the song just this spring at graduation ceremonies for Arizona State University; the commencement speaker was the President of the United States.) In 1973 the British Parliament actually discussed banning Alice Cooper from performing in the UK while, that same year, Alice was banned from bringing his show to Binghamton, NY. Soviet media called for a ban on Alice Cooper performances in 1974; in 1975 a grandstanding Australian politician proposed that Alice Cooper be banned in that country while that same year the album cover art for Alice's "Killer" was actually banned in Mexico. Printers, in 1984 refused to print an Alice Cooper fanzine and, four years later, Bavarian authorities prohibited attendance by those under 18 and censored Alice's Munich stage show. In 1990 the Greek Orthodox Church called for Alice to be expelled from Athens.