Sunday, June 28, 2009

KISS STILL SHOUTS IT OUT LOUD!

KISS STILL SHOUTS IT OUT LOUD!
JOURNAL SENTINEL
By Bob Purvis of the Journal Sentinel
Photos by Rick Wood

When it comes to covering up your age, makeup goes a long way.

Celebrating more than 35 years of painting their faces and blowing stuff up, Kiss, the undisputed monsters of arena rock, proved Saturday night at the Marcus Amphitheater that they've got plenty more rock left in their lycra-and-leather tanks.

With a new album on the horizon, the rockers opted instead to dig deep into their catalog, tearing through a blistering set of tunes mostly plucked from their first three albums.

Descending to the stage amid a series of fiery blasts on a metal platform spewing smoke - and with an image of bassist-turned-reality-TV-star Gene Simmons' serpentine tongue flicker splashed across towering video screens behind them - the band ripped right into the thunderous hit "Deuce" off their eponymous 1974 debut.

With founding members Peter Criss and Ace Frehley absent from the tour, Simmons and guitarist-singer Paul Stanley soaked up most of the spotlight, strutting across the stage and interacting with fans throughout the set.

A brief downpour and a few lightning strikes did little to dampen the spirits of the fans in the lawn seats who seemed more awed by the pyrotechnic mayhem onstage than Mother Nature's humble display.

Dressed in a sparkling, rhinestone-encrusted spandex jumpsuit and wearing his trademark star-over-the-eye makeup, Stanley promised the crowd "something you will not forget" shortly before the band kicked into "Hotter Than Hell"- another early hit - as fiery explosions sent blasts of hot air over the crowd and Gene Simmons paced demonically across the stage.

"Hey, Milwaukee - do you mind if we blow (expletive) up tonight?" Stanley asked, to the deafening applause of the crowd, many of whom themselves donned face paint.

Simmons, who has experienced renewed celebrity thanks to his life-at-home reality show "Family Jewels," was never too far from the spotlight, whether he was blowing fire, stabbing a burning sword into the stage or wagging his oversized tongue like a demonic dog.

The band stacked its set with songs from that 1974 debut album, including "Strutter," "Cold Gin," "100,000 Years" and "Nothin' to Lose," with Stanley telling the crowd the tour was about "celebrating how it all started."

The rest of the show proved a dizzying spectacle, with countless fireworks, a drum riser nearly 50 feet above the stage and epic solos nearly as long as Simmons' tongue.

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