Sunday, November 29, 2009

KISS Held Court At Summit Center

By Pennman

The house was a-rockin' at the Sommet Center (Nashville) as Kiss held court. I think the word of the night was "LOUD" as the amps and PAs were turned up to the max. If you're the type who wants more than just an aural experience at a rock show, this was the place to be. As in the past, Kiss provided plenty of excitement for the eyes as well as the ears. Lights, smoke, pyrotechnics, harnesses (allowing Gene & Paul to fly), big screens, and confetti machines were all employed during the show. All the stops were pulled in this extravaganza. There are only a handful of acts I can think of these days that put on such a stage spectacle; Alice Cooper, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, The Tubes, AC/DC. None demand more of your full-blown attention as Kiss.

Before the show, I checked out the merchandise stands. Kiss is still the master of marketing as they have been for decades. The atmosphere was more like a carnival than a concert. CDs and/or digital storage devices of the show were being sold for immediate distribution after the performance. T-shirts, posters, and other collectibles galore were for sale, and face painting was available (just pick your favorite Kiss persona, past or present. People were buying; recession be damned. The people watching weren't too shabby either. Lots of Kiss look-alikes were walking the halls. These fans really get into it.

The stage was covered by ceiling to floor curtains while the crew set everything up. Then it was time for Kiss. As the big screens showed their march through the halls of the Sommet on the way to the stage, Gene Simmons gave us the first of at least a hundred tongue wags right into the camera. Dressed to kill in their traditional costumes and makeup, they were like soldiers marching off to war. And they would be taking no prisoners.

The first thing that struck me was that Simmons' bass was coming through loud and clear and strong. The sound was excellent, and the visuals, well, were typical Kiss, which equates to fantastic. Stanley did most of the inter-song bantering, and everyone else did their talking through their vocals and instruments. Simmons breathed his fire, drooled continuously (so much so I was afraid he would short out his guitar), spit his blood, and flew up high above the stage on the lighting trusses at one point during the show. Stanley flew in a different direction; across the length of the arena to a back platform he gave the folks back there a treat for one song. At one point the two original members were on really high elevating platforms on opposite sides of the stage. Guitarist Tommy Thayer was all over the stage and blazing the fret board throughout the show, and drummer Eric Singer was absolutely insane for two hours.

As for the set list, any group with as large a set list as Kiss is vulnerable to complaints. They just can't physically play everyone's favorites in two hours. For example, several women asked if they played "Beth." Well, this show was too rocking for that. What they did do was an impressive cross-section of their hits, with a few off the new album (Sonic Boom), which by the way are pretty darn good. I won't list them all, but some of the notables were "Hotter Than Hell", "Modern Day Delilah" (one of the good new ones), "Dr. Love", "100,000 Years" (with a nice drum solo by Singer), "Black Diamond", "Shout It Out Loud" (good to hear), "Love Gun", a rockin' "Detroit Rock City", and the ever-popular "Rock and Roll all Nite". Whew!

In general, this was the ultimate rock show. If I wanted to show a rock virgin what a rock and roll concert was all about I think I would take them to a Kiss show. I'll have to try that next time; should be very entertaining.