Friday, July 26, 2013

KISS Brings The Rock To Ottawa

When Kiss took one of their glam metal progeny Motley Crue out on the road with them last year, the concert event billed simply as The Tour made only one Canadian stop, in Toronto.

Both bands made up for the oversight in 2013, each booking the most extensive cross-Canada tours in band history, at 18 dates apiece and rolling through such heavy metal meccas as Edmonton, Brandon, Manitoba “...and Sudbury” as Gene Simmons noted in a wry baritone that interrupted Paul Stanley rhyming off Kiss Monster Tour stops during Thursday's show.

But anyone comparing the two concerts — Kiss and the Crue coming about 70 days apart and both attracting around 8,000 to the Canadian Tire Centre — would have to wonder if the Crue could've learned a thing or two from the road warriors of Kiss, who, if they didn't invent the arena rock spectacle, they certainly set the gold-studded standard for all to follow.

Kiss — Starman Stanley and the Demon Simmons, with replacement Space Ace Tommy Thayer and Catman Eric Singer each getting a chance to shine in a mid-set guitar and drum double solo — gave the people what they paid for in a two-hour rock spectacle that had nearly non-stop pyrotechnics blazing amid some blaring rock 'n roll.

And the Ottawa regiment of Kiss Army had flags flying and fists pumping, even if Stanley reluctantly acknowledged, “This isn't the biggest crowd we've played to” on tour.

Still, the crowd made a noise equal to one twice its size on a spirited singalong on I Love it Loud, and kept the energy flowing through a string of vintage Seventies shock rockers, with every fist in the house raised right from Shout it Out Loud and right through Deuce, Detroit Rock City and the encore, signature party anthem Rock N' Roll All Nite.

Stanley and Simmons were both dynamic performers — at age 61 and 63 and still packing plenty of punch in their showmanship skills, Stanley demanding fan love with raised fists throughout and calls for competing cheers on either side of the arena, and Simmons seething at fans through bloody teeth, “You better get off your a--” while perched in a harness high above the stage in a blood-smeared bass solo.

It says something for two rock stars of their vintage to be able to slather on the makeup every night and pull on the platforms and the black studded leather, with Stanley still flying over the crowd and still giving his best rock star screams, and Simmons as some wicked, growling gargoyle, breathing fire and frothing blood all over horned armour and his demon bass.

With a stage featuring a giant robotic spider that looked like it had come to life and walked over from the National Gallery lawn to drop four face-painted freaks off on stage — and somewhere along the way picked up the ability to fire off rockets from its belly and laser beams from its eyes — the entire show was a feast for the senses.

And despite the new album Monster, Kiss knew exactly why the fans came out — a select few even in Kiss costume — and accordingly served up fan-favourites God of Thunder, Lick it Up, Love Gun and Black Diamond.

Even the newer songs — like the opener Psycho Circus, from the same 1998 album, Hell or Hallelujah, with the band members taking a break to sign a copy the 2012 Monster LP onstage for a fan's 14th birthday — were all augmented with enough explosive blasts, fireworks and balls of flame to keep the fans' attention span from drifting too far.

See photos HERE: