Saturday, September 12, 2009

Kiss - July 26, 1996

Madison Square Garden was the setting for my first ever experience with the hottest band in the land. My favorite band of all time, Kiss. As a teenager, I worshipped this band and since I missed out on the makeup experience the first time around (I was much too young to fully appreciate the mystique then) I had always yearned for a full reunion tour complete with makeup. In 1996 the fans got their wish and Kiss announced a full-fledged world tour with Ace Frehley, Peter Criss, and all the makeup, costumes, and explosions that went with it. One of the highlights of this tour was a four night stand at Madison Square Garden. I was ecstatic when I heard the news and rushed to get my tickets.

In full geek fashion, I greased up my face with Gene Simmons war paint and my wife (at the time) painted hers in the image of Paul Stanley. My best friend Tommy laughed when he saw us, but thought it was cool nonetheless. We asked if he and his girlfriend would like to complete the quartet by going as Ace and Peter, but they politely declined.

Seeing the band perform in their home city of New York was bound to make this concert an extra special one. We knew that Kiss was going to give the performance of a lifetime and doing the concert at MSG was only going to make it that much better. The Mecca of arenas was housing the best rock band there was. It was going to be a flawless evening.

I don’t remember who opened for Kiss on that tour, but I know that they were horrendous. The entire time they were on the stage, I couldn’t wait for them to get off so that Kiss could take over. I was dying to see them live and the anticipation of that first song was overwhelming.

When the warm up act finally left, the tension mounted as the desire to see my childhood idols intensified. When the house lights went dark and the crowd roared, my heart pounded. This was the moment I had been waiting for. This was Kiss in all their full costumed glory. The evil voice of the announcer filled the Garden with the well known introduction of “All right New York! You wanted the best! You got the best! The hottest band in the land…! KISS!”

The opening notes of Deuce crackled through the air and we were off and running. My dream was finally a reality. Bombs exploded in the air and Kiss rushed out onto the stage. Dressed in their circa 1977 costumes, the band looked electrifying. The costumes were dazzling, the makeup was spectacular, and with a super huge video screen to enhance the images, Kiss never looked better.

A more perfect setlist could not have been requested. For the reunion tour, Kiss only played songs from their first six albums, which were and still are, the best albums they ever recorded. It was a throwback night for all of the fans. The fans lucky enough to witness this show in the 70s were getting a long trip down memory lane, and those of us who missed it the first time around, were finally seeing why this band dominated back in the day.

Explosions aside, Kiss pulled out all the stops for this concert. During Ace’s guitar solo, he dropped to his knees and launched skyrockets from his guitar. Then he lit it on fire and did a smoking guitar solo. Gene Simmons flew through the air, landing above the stage for his signature blood spitting bass solo that looked amazing on the large screens set up to capture the action. He also breathed fire at the end of Firehouse, to the delight of the crowd.

Complete with bombs, blood, wicked costumes, and of course, incredible rock and roll, Kiss came to Madison Square Garden and conquered. When the confetti flew through the air during Rock and Roll All Nite, I couldn’t believe that the show was over. Even though it was more than 2 hours in length, it felt like minutes. My first opportunity to witness Kiss live would never be forgotten. They provided an amazing performance and an excellent evening of entertainment. On that night they proved that they were the “Hottest Band In The Land!”

King Of The Nighttime World
Do You Love Me
Calling Dr. Love
Cold Gin
I Stole Your Love
Shout It Out Loud
Watchin’ You
Shock Me
Rock Bottom
God Of Thunder
New York Groove
Love Gun
100,000 Years
Black Diamond
Detroit Rock City
Rock And Roll All Nite

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