Saturday, September 4, 2010

Kiss - August 20, 2010

Prior to seeing Kiss live at Madison Square Garden in October 2009, it had been almost six years since I had witnessed the band perform in concert. So when a summer show at the PNC Arts center was announced, and my nearest and dearest friend, Tommy, confirmed that he was interested in going, well, there was no doubt in my mind. We were going to see Kiss.

A week or two after I got the tickets, Metal Eddie got in touch with me and said he was also going. He got a ticket for him and his nephew Matthew. Knowing how well behaved his nephew is, I knew it was going to be a fun night of rock and roll.

Tommy, Eddie, Matthew, and I all met up at the front gates just prior to the opening act going on. We had no desire to see any band on the bill (besides Kiss, of course), so we took the time to catch up and hang out. Matthew didn’t like this too much, as he was yearning to get inside and see Kiss. It’s hard to explain to someone so young that it was still hours before Kiss was coming on.

Eventually we did make our way inside and got settled on the lawn. We sat through both the opening act of Envy and the second opening act of The Academy Is… Neither of the bands did anything for me, and I actually thought that The Academy Is… was a very strange pairing with Kiss. They appear to be an emo, new wave band with a flamboyant lead singer who needs to come out of the closet. Not what you would call rock and roll with a fist pump.

When it came time for the band that we were all there to see, the old tingling feeling of excitement returned. It was a beautiful Friday night, I was hanging out with some of my best friends, and Kiss was about to take the stage. I can’t help it if I still act like a giddy little school boy, can I?

The familiar lines of “All right Holmdel!” filled the air. “You wanted the best! You got the best! The hottest band in the land… Kiss!” The curtain dropped, the fireworks banged, and Kiss came onto the stage to the opening notes of Modern Day Delilah. The song sounds even better live. I love the new album, Sonic Boom, and I love the song Modern Day Delilah. It was an excellent start to the night.

Classic Kiss would follow in the form of Cold Gin, Let Me Go Rock And Roll, and Firehouse. At the end of Firehouse, the patented Gene Simmons fire breathing incident occurred (as always) and Gene stood there, still the coolest guy in the room, even after all these years. Haters can say what they want, nobody is slicker than Gene Simmons.

On this current tour, dubbed The Hottest Show On Earth, Kiss is performing mostly early era classics and some new songs from Sonic Boom. One rare classic that they pulled out thought was Crazy, Crazy Nights. Honestly, this is a song that I thought I would never hear live. Kiss seems to completely ignore that album and Asylum like they never existed. So when the opportunity to hear Crazy, Crazy Nights live for the first time arose, I was jittery with anticipation.

Unfortunately, time seems to have caught up with Paul Stanley’s voice. While he sounded great on most of the songs he sang that night, Crazy, Crazy Nights wasn’t one of them. His voice was weak and crackly for this performance. It also didn’t help that the band really did not seem into playing this song. I wonder if this was something that Doc McGhee insisted they play for the fans. While I was happy to hear it live, I would have been happier if it sounded better.

Tommy Thayer did his Ace Frehley rip off of Shock Me, but he must be reading The Rock And Roll Guru (like every good rock band should), because he finally mixed the solo up and even incorporated Eric Singer into the act. After Tommy shot the rockets out of his guitar, Eric Singer pulled out a Bazooka and shot a rocket into the crowd. That was unexpected and totally wild!

Gene’s performance of I’m An Animal was exceptional and a highlight of the night for me. Another song that I love from Sonic Boom it was so great to hear it live. And while I thought that he was going to spit blood and fly during that song, he didn’t (that would come during I Love It Loud). I guess even Kiss can throw me a curveball once in a while.

The opening song of the encore upset me a little bit. Kiss decided to play the classic Beth and have Eric Singer sing it. This annoys me even more than having Tommy Thayer play Shock Me. Look, both Tommy and Eric have songs on Sonic Boom that they can sing. Eric can sing Nothing To Lose, he’s done it before and he’s done it well. There is no need to come out to Beth to open the encore.

That being said, the acoustic version of Beth that they played was pretty awesome. I know I sound like a total Brett Favre flip-flopper right now, but it was amazing. The band huddled in a circle at the front of the stage. Gene, Paul, and Tommy played acoustic guitars, while Eric stood out front and sang. It was a cool moment in Kisstory.

The encore continued with more classic Kiss. During I Was Made For Loving You, Paul flew into the audience and landed at a small stage (the Paul stage) that was already set up for him. It’s excellent to see him fly across the audience and play a song from that stage. After all these years, I still love it.

Kiss closed the night with the obvious choice of Rock And Roll All Nite, complete with confetti bomb blasts and a very loud, happy crowd. Although this New Jersey show wasn’t sold out, it was very close to full capacity. The confetti mixed with Rock And Roll All Nite, mixed with me, Tommy, Metal Eddie, and young Matthew singing as loud as we could made for the perfect ending to an amazing night.

Thank you, Kiss. Once again, you put on an incredible show.

Modern Day Delilah
Cold Gin
Let Me Go Rock And Roll
Say Yeah
Crazy, Crazy Nights
Calling Dr. Love
Shock Me
I’m An Animal
100,000 Years
I Love It Loud
Love Gun
Black Diamond
Detroit Rock City
Beth (Acoustic)
Lick It Up
Shout It Out Loud
I Was Made For Lovin’ You
God Gave Rock And Roll To You II
Rock And Roll All Nite

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