Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Review: KISS In Regina

In surviving and thriving after 40 years in the music business, Kiss continues to live by one simple rule — if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.

Kiss figured out years ago exactly what works for them and their fans and that’s precisely what the Brandt Centre crowd received on Tuesday night.

Although slightly less than a sellout — some seats in the upper bowl were empty — the large crowd featured a wide demographic of fans that already believed that Kiss was, as their introduction pointed out, “the hottest rock band in the world.”

So let’s take a quick look at the checklist of expectations:

Did Gene Simmons breathe fire? Check.

Did Gene also wiggle his ridiculously long tongue too many times to mention, sometimes with the additional excitement of spitting blood? Check.

Did hundreds of fire balls and flash points explode during the show? Check.

Was the band loud, and I mean really loud? Check.

Was the staging outrageous? Given the tour includes a metallic giant spider-like contraption that hovers over the stage, that would definitely be a check.

Throw in some additional gags like Simmons being lifted up into the rafters to finish his bass solo, drummer Eric Singer firing a bazooka-like device at the audience from his elevated drum kit and Paul Stanley soaring over the audience to a small stage at the back of the venue and the show had everything and more for the Kiss faithful.

Simmons, Stanley and Tommy Thayer opened the show by descending to the stage on the back of the robotic spider contraption with Singer already safely ensconced behind his drum kit.

While Psycho Circus, the opening number, grabbed the attention of many, it was the massive video screen at the back of the stage that stole the initial salvo. Appearing to be around 90 feet wide by 65 feet high, it was by far the largest I’ve seen at any Brandt Centre show. It was another page out of the Kiss playbook — either go big or go home.

Stanley had a running conversation with the crowd throughout the evening and early in the show he took an opportunity to egg the crowd on.

“Man, it’s be a while, it’s been a long while since we’ve been here. We’ve been to Vancouver (crowd booed), we’ve been to Victoria (crowd booed), we’ve been to Kelowna (crowd booed), we’ve been to Edmonton (crowd booed), now we’re in Regina so show us your love.”

And that’s what the crowd did, regardless of what song Kiss was playing — it was like the band was receiving unconditional love. Stanley returned the love when pointing out the size of the crowd.

“It’s not the biggest crowd but that doesn’t mean you can’t be the loudest crowd,” said Stanley, before riding a wire over the crowd to a small crowd at the opposite end of the venue. For those in the bowl at the end of the Brandt Centre, they got an up close and personal look as Stanley performed on a revolving stage.

After a 14-song set, Kiss returned for an encore that definitely raised the roof at the Brandt Centre. If Detroit Rock City, I Was Made For Lovin’ You and Rock and Roll All Nite didn’t bring you out of your seat, then you aren’t a fan of rock and roll music.

Although critics have long attacked Kiss, labelling their material as juvenile and their musical abilities as average, Tuesday’s show displayed exactly why they have such a dedicated and loyal fan base. It was fun, it was loud, it was memorable — what more could a fan ask for from a concert?

The evening began with Shinedown and the rockers from Jacksonville, Fla., weren’t shy about trying to win the crowd over. Frontman Brent Smith asked the crowd, by a show of hands, how many had never seen the band before. The sea of hands indicated Shinedown was an unknown entity to the majority in attendance but by the time the eight-song, 45-minute set was finished, Smith and his three bandmates had converted many.

Although none of the tunes were memorable, the set was entertaining, powered by Smith’s energetic and dynamic style. As an opening act, Shinedown was better than most.

Kiss set list

1. Psycho Circus

2. Shout It Out Loud

3. Let Me Go, Rock ‘N’ Roll

4. I Love It Loud

5. Hell or Hallelujah

6. War Machine

7. Heaven’s on Fire

8. Deuce

9. Say Yeah

10. Outta This World

Guitar and Drum Solos

(Tommy Thayer / Eric Singer)

Bass Solo

(Gene Simmons)

11. God of Thunder

12. Lick It Up

13. Love Gun

14. Black Diamond


15. Detroit Rock City

16. I Was Made for Lovin’ You

17. Rock and Roll All Nite