October 17, 2009
(Click the highlighted song titles below for YouTube links to videos of tonight's performances.)
“Get up and get your grandma out of here”, Gene Simmons bellowed as he, Paul Stanley, Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer took the stage at Greenville, South Carolina's Bi-Lo Center on October 17. Some things never change. There was just as much dry ice, fire, leather, makeup and crushing volume as ever. KISS delivers what the KISS Army wants!
Of course, in 2009, the grandma is as likely to be the KISS fan as the grandchild. The number of fans accompanied by children (and even grandchildren) proved that. At this point, KISS has become multi-generational family entertainment and love ‘em or hate ‘em, but they have consistently put on some of the most entertaining rock and roll spectacles in the history of the style. Tonight was no exception.
Opening with the KISS Alive double shot of “Deuce” and “Strutter”, front man Paul Stanley leaped through the air as much, if not more, than he did 30+ years ago. So what if he's had both hips replaced since the last major KISS tour in America. You'd never know from seeing him dancing wildly atop his precarious high heels. Word from backstage was that Paul Stanley was suffering from a cold tonight. His actions didn't show it, but you could hear it when he sang.
Truth be told, the only sign of wear on any band member was that the Starchild's voice was not quite there. In fact, too often his vocal chords emitted a croak where that signature rasp should've been. This was especially evident in the new song “Modern Day Delilah”. The oversized riffs weren't even enough to disguise some of the missing power in Stanley's voice. Still, it didn't stop him from pushing himself. He probably should've taken it easier, but he didn't. Paul Stanley has never been known to "take it easy". He has always pushed himself to the limit vocally and physically. No one can ever accuse any of these members of KISS of phoning in their performance. It was full-on and intense all night long.
Tonight's show held a few surprises. First off, Tommy Thayer had his lead vocal debut in the United States with his surprisingly authentic sounding version of Ace Frehley's “Shock Me”. For some, “shock” was exactly the right word! It was a shock to quite a few of the KISS purists in the crowd. Some clearly thought it to be heresy for Tommy to not only be up there in Frehley's makeup, but to be singing one of the original Spaceman's most famous tunes. The argument has some merit, but I have to admit, Tommy did a heck of job (click here to hear sounboard audio of the performance) . In fact, I believe that amongst a stage full of stars, Tommy Thayer was the brightest star shining tonight. Not only did he capture Frehley's manic energy and sound, but Thayer finally stepped up and added his own personality. The last time I saw KISS, it was "The Gene And Paul Show" with “two other guys”. This was not the case here. Maybe it's all the extra time they've played in the band or the fact that the current lineup's new album, Sonic Boom, debuted at #2 on the Billboard album chart a few days before this gig. Whatever it was, this version of KISS was energized and taking no prisoners.
Gene Simmons had his own surprise in store for fans by breaking out “Calling Dr. Love” for the first time on this tour. The roar was immense and the band nailed it. Simmons' swagger is just as obnoxious as ever. The tongue wagging, pelvic thrusting demon breathed fire, spit blood and sweated buckets. Before “I Love It Loud”, Simmons even “flew” up to the top of the lighting rig to lead yet another crowd-baiting sing-a-long.
“100,000 Years” was a marathon. In all, it was about 16 minutes, including Eric Singer's 360-degree drum solo and an extended interaction between Paul Stanley and Tommy Thayer where they traded licks and vocal lines Led Zeppelin style. A later interaction between the two guitarists during “Lick It Up” found the two leading the rhythm section into a big chunk of The Who's “Won't Get Fooled Again”.
“Rock And Roll All Nite” was the obvious conclusion. Gigantic blowers shot confetti throughout the entire arena and cooled the room off nicely (which was needed after all the pyro!). As risers lifted all four members up into the air, fire rained down. Stanley pulled a Pete Townshend on his guitar, breaking it in half before throwing himself into the air once more. A concussion bomb threatened to deafen those who hadn't already lost their hearing.
Of course, the KISS Army wasn't ready to leave.
They screamed, stomped, clapped and demanded more. If it's possible, the encore was even more energetic than what had come before. “Shout It Out Loud” would've been enough of a big finish for any other band, but even that wasn't enough for KISS and their crowd.
At the beginning of “Love Gun”, Paul Stanley went airborne again, this time shooting over the heads of those gathered on the floor to a mini-stage in back. Everyone was on their feet, riled up by this maximum overload.
Two hours after the attack on the senses of Greenville began, KISS closed out the night with a take of “Detroit Rock City” that left the stage looking like a war zone. Massive pin-wheel fireballs spun in front of the drums, the risers rose once more and every fist and voice rose along with them. One concussion bomb after the other rang through the arena and into the streets of South Carolina. KISS, in 2009, is everything the fans have wanted. KISS is not a band. KISS is a feeling and an attitude. Perhaps it's most surprising that despite the ages of those creating that feeling, that feeling is youth.
Review and all photos by Chris McKay / concertshots.com
KISS Set List For Greenville in October 17, 2009
(Click the linked song titles for YouTube videos.)
3. Let Me Go, Rock And Roll
4. Hotter Than Hell
5. Shock Me
6. Modern Day Delilah
7. Calling Dr. Love
8. She / Tommy's Solo
10. 100,000 Years
11. Gene's Solo / I Love It Loud
12. Black Diamond
13. Rock And Roll All Nite
14. Shout It Out Loud
15. Lick It Up / Won't Get Fooled Again
16. Love Gun
17. Detroit Rock City