Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Concert Review: KISS With Shinedown, Bell Centre, July 29

“Maawn-tree-aaawl!” howled Paul Stanley in the arena phrasing and pronunciation he coined. “I wanna come out there and be with yew!”

Who knew if he meant it in the Biblical sense, but this was Kiss, so as likely as not. And 8,500 in the Bell Centre were going to feel Paul and the fire and the blood and the flying and the bombs that still herald rock’s Circus Maximus on their regular rotation through the city and country and world’s venues.

First, ladies and gentlemen, rest easy in your beds – the future of Kiss is assured, if we can judge by the truly impressive amount of pre-schoolers face-painted and hauled into the rink by parents who’d been Kissed one too many times but were passing on the torch. Little Demons and Starchildren, little Aces and Catmen, goggle-eyed at what they were about to experience.

Forty-some years, y’all. Psycho Circus opened with the first bombing sally, and Gene in his suit of metal mail, and Tommy Thayer licking out in his Ace gear, and Paul Stanley in his black flamingo-feathers, all descending atop an articulated spider-stage, with screens bathing 17,000 retinae in a kaleidoscope of KISS imagery. Forty-some years of Shout It Out Loud anchoring the early part of the set with the first of a half-dozen ’70s riffs that have outlasted Jann Wenner’s hatred and become post-ironic standards for – what – three generations?

The ever-limber Stanley took many knee-drops through the likes of Hell or Hallelujah, from the band’s solid Monster album. Backwards and in platforms with a Firebird-ish guitar – that’s Paul as Gene blows fire in War Machine and licks his own fretboard. And here’s Thayer, given the mic for Shock Me/Outta This World and a bit of O Canada in the solo to re-energize the show.

You would get Gene Simmons yanked into the rafters on guidewires for God of Thunder and the blood moment, and Stanley and Thayer back atop the spider for a Lick It Up coda of Won’t Get Fooled Again that felt like both hommage and canny stagecraft. Because here came the tonnage, with Stanley impressively zooming over the crowd on a one-stirrup trapeze with no harness to yowl Black Diamond from the mid-crowd mini-stage. Detroit Rock City and I Was Made for Lovin’ You would set up the inevitable Rock and Roll All Nite explosions.

When you’ve seen Kiss any number of times stretching back further than you’d care to admit, and lived through and even propagated some of the slurs directed at them, it’s easy to forget that rock’n’roll is currently loitering in whatever layer of inanition sits below the doldrums. You can forget that catching a hard rock opening band named Shinedown with a gracious and authoritative lead singer named Brent Smith may have virtue in its hoary rock trad. And you can forget that until someone out-explodes or out-enthuses or out-showbizzes the headliner, there are worse things than spending a summer night watching 6-year-olds and their parents fist-pumping along to a riff-carnival that shows no signs of folding its tent.