Friday, July 30, 2010

KISS Still Plays With Fire

By Scott Mervis, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Photo by John Heller/Post-Gazette

When Kiss announced a summer tour that would allow four kids in free with an adult lawn ticket, it was natural to envision a circus-like atmosphere with Kiss toy booths dotting the hillside and vendors selling glowsticks that every kid would have to have.

Gene Simmons did after all learn a few things from Ringling Brothers.

That's not the way it was though Thursday night for the second local Kiss show in eight months. There were more little ones than usual in Kiss T-shirts and painted faces, but the band didn't go all Wiggles on us.

Thirty-six years in, the fab four played a typically hard-hitting and explosive Kiss show with all the requisite pyrotechnic thrills and an expanded set that blew well past the usual 11 p.m. curfew.

It did not start, like so many Kiss shows, with The Demon singing the first line of "Deuce": "Get up, and get your grandma outta here!" Grandma, after all, may have been buying the $40 shirt. Plus, Kiss has relevancy and a newish album to sell, so it kicked things off with the "Sonic Boom" single "Modern Day Delilah."

It was one of several changes from the recent Arena show: "Strutter," "Hotter Than Hell" and "Parasite" were scrapped from the set list, replaced by the scorching "Firehouse" (complete with sirens and fire-blowing), "Crazy Crazy Nights," the hit ballad "Beth" and "I'm An Animal," one of the "Sonic Boom" highlights, with its sludgy Sabbath riff and a verse that's nearly rapped.

The kids -- young and old -- got a stage that was pure eye candy with one massive screen and dozens of smaller ones zooming in on the action, as smoke rolled, flashpots flared and fireworks shot up around them.

Musically, however, there are far fewer gimmicks. Star-faced lead singer Paul Stanley, the king of hilarious shrieking stage banter, let us know that it was "just four guys, nobody under the stage," no musical tricks. Sure enough, just as much pyro was coming from guitarist Tommy Thayer, who wears the suit of the beloved Ace Frehley with a fierce purpose. Nearly ever song built to one of his fiery and perfectly executed solos, spanning the range from Berry to Page to Iommi.

All night, Kiss had a blast with the reference points, including Paul teasing "Whole Lotta Love" before "Black Diamond" and "Won't Get Fooled Again" prior to "Shout it Out Loud." Kiss also dug into the Argent songbook for the anthemic power ballad "God Gave Rock and Roll to You," complete with a riff from "All the Young Dudes."

Before getting to "Rock and Roll All Nite," Kiss announced that a check for $8,795 would be donated to the Wounded Warriors foundation, a charity for veterans.

For the kids that did get the thrill of seeing Kiss, Mr. Stanley delivered a promise: "We were there for your moms and dads, and we'll be there for you!"

What They Played

* Modern Day Delilah
* Cold Gin
* Let Me Go, Rock 'n' Roll
* Firehouse
* Say Yeah
* Deuce
* Crazy Crazy Nights
* Calling Dr. Love
* Shock Me
* I'm An Animal
* 100,000 Years
* I Love It Loud
* Love Gun
* Black Diamond
* Detroit Rock City


* Beth
* Lick It Up
* Shout It Out Loud
* God Gave Rock 'n' Roll to You II
* Rock and Roll All Nite