Tuesday, August 13, 2013

KISS Rocks And Opener, Leogun, Surprises

  www.hamptonroads.com | By Patty Jenkins | Photo: Bill Tiernan

Kiss Army marched into nTelos Wireless Pavilion in Portsmouth last night with nearly every spot of the 6,500-seat amphitheater filled. It was a family affair; as men, women and children wore the signature markings of their onstage heroes.

The night of theatrics, which could be dubbed the Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley show, did not seem to disappoint the legion of fans that took in the light show featuring an enormous spider-like mechanical metal structure and loud explosives from pyrotechnics that had the warmth of the heat hitting them in their faces.

As in the past when Kiss has visited Hampton Roads, Simmons gets his fans going with stage stunts that include being pulled up into the rafters, spitting out fake blood with the extension of his tongue while showcasing his bass solo.

“Want me to come out to you?” Stanley entices his fans as a pulley takes him across the audience onto a round metal mini stage set up for his guitar spotlight moment performing “Love Gun.”

In the end it’s these antics and the classic hits that have made Kiss a household name in rock music.

Kiss stayed tried and true to format, but left the surprise with opening act Leogun.

The London-based trio featuring frontman and guitarist Tommy Smith, bassist Matt Johnson and drummer Mike Lloyd were welcomed by the Kiss Army.

Smith and company took to the stage with a 30-minute six-song set list that included tunes from their debut album, “By the Reins.”

Opening with “Let’s Be Friends,” Smith then played up to the loyalty of the Kiss Army and got them shouting by mentioning their costumed-clad heroes.

After that, Leogun was on its own.

With more than half the seats filled for an opening band, Leogun gained control of the stage as audience members moved to the beat of this “new generation of rock ‘n’ roll” music and seemed fixated on what was happening in front of them.

After each song, the interaction grew with positive response.

Smith’s guitar riff in “Piggy in the Middle” received its expected response, but it was the seven-minute jam with powerful live performance vocal on the title track that got the band its appreciation from the Kiss Army as members stood, clapped and shouted.

“The first time I heard their music, I got goose bumps on my arm,” said Jimmy Hopkins, 53, of Detroit. The Kiss fan said he’s seen Kiss many times, but it’s Leogun he wants to hear and see more of these days.

The sentiment may have been felt by many that stood in line to meet, greet and snap photos with the London trio.

Smith had to offer up assurance to the many new Leogun admirers surrounding him that were not sure rather to stay or go when they heard music coming from the stage - “They’re just teasing you,” he said.