Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Simmons Steals The Show Stevenson - QMI Agency

It’s just another day at work for KISS singer-bassist turned reality TV star Gene Simmons.
The rocker proposed to longtime Canadian love Shannon Tweed on his A&E series, Gene Simmons’ Family Jewels in an episode that aired Tuesday night.

Then he donned seven-inch heels, black leather and studs, spandex, black-and-white face makeup and took to the stage for a sold out crowd at Casino Rama.

Simmons brought original singer-guitarist Paul Stanley, current lead guitarist Tommy Thayer (Ace Frehley left in 2002) and current drummer Eric Singer (Peter Criss left in 2003) along with him.

Slightly later in the evening, the marriage-phobic Simmons could be seen finally popping the question (it was actually filmed a couple of months ago) in Belize to Tweed, his girlfriend of 28 years and the mother of his two grown children, with her answer still up in the air.

But of course.

Simmons, now 61, is nothing if not a master marketer.

As for the Casino Rama concert, the band played on an impressive, if streamlined stage, with the giant white lights of the KISS logo looming large.

They were first seen approaching via backstage video while a giant black KISS flag unfurled on stage heralding their arrival with plenty of pyro, four video screens, and speakers putting a fine point on it for the opening song, Modern Day Delilah.

“So we couldn’t make it to Toronto,” said Stanley, 59. “But we wanted to get close. You all feel like family to us.”

I guess that meant Stanley could give the audience heck after a couple of songs, Let Me Go Rock N Roll and Firehouse, with Simmons doing his usual fire-eating routine at the end of the latter, and also entertaining mightily during Deuce.

“Y’all look like your sitting down and watching TV. If it’s rock n’ roll, standup!” he said. “Man, I don’t mind doing the work, but y’all gotta stick with us.”

Truthfully, the Hottest Show on Earth seemed a bit tired, at times, maybe without Frehley and Criss in the lineup, and given this is the second leg of the tour maybe Simmons and Stanley really are tired.

Thayer, who sang lead on Shock Me, and Singer both delivered impressive solos about midway through the show with Simmons and Stanley leaving the stage - possibly to lie down? - which included Thayer firing pyro out of his guitar and Singer doing likewise out of a bazooka looking device.

When Simmons and Stanley returned they seemed more energized on I Love It Loud, Love Gun, and God of Thunder with Simmons doing his usual schtick, spitting blood and looking like a deranged Japanese samurai.

Stanley had his moment in the spotlight too on Black Diamond playing a bit of Led Zeppelin’s Stairway To Heaven in the intro before saying: “You don’t want me to play that? Say no, Paul!” and then giving the crowd a hard time once again for not being responsive enough: “Can you do a little bit better than that?”

The group closed with plenty of pyro and Detroit Rock City and Singer’s drum kit rising into the air before returning with an encore that began with Singer coming out from behind his kit to sing lead on Beth.

It wasn’t his finest moment, let’s just say.

Then Stanley inexplicably began doing a bit of The Guess Who’s American Woman before forgetting some of the lyrics - “What are the words?” he said - before finally launching into the KISS anthem, Lick It Up, that also mysteriously ended with a bit of The Who’s Won’t Get Fooled Again right down to Moon’s drum rolls.

Pacing seemed to be an issue late in the game.

Much better were the last two songs of the night, Shout It Out Loud and Rock And Roll All Nite, with plenty of white confetti showering the audience amid fireworks and firebursts, and Simmons, Thayer and Singer rising up on platforms, during the latter tune.