Concert Review – Kiss – Riverbend – 7/30

Kiss hasn’t done a great deal of touring over the last decade.  Instead, they’ve spent more time on other ventures, like the Kiss Kasket, Kiss Coffeehouse and Gene Simmons’ reality show Family Jewels.  They still bill themselves as the “Hottest Band in the World,” but with the founding members getting up there in age (Gene Simmons is nearing 61 and Paul Stanley is 58), there was some doubt that they could still deliver the goods.  The show opened with an ear-splitting explosion, followed by “Modern Day Delilah,” one of three new songs they played that night.  Right away, you could feel the energy coming off the stage

, and any doubt was soon gone.  Through an amazing 22-song set, lasting almost 2 ½ hours, Kiss showed that they could still put on a balls out spectacle.  All the elements of a classic Kiss show were present:  they arrived on an elevated pedestal that lowered the band to the stage, Simmons breathed fire and spit blood, Stanley smashed his guitar, and at one point rode a guywire to the middle of the audience and played on a small stage.  Kiss also seemed more like a band than they have in a long time.  Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer, the permanent replacements for Ace Frehley, and Peter Criss, respectively, seemed no more than hired guns on previous tours.  Here, they were not only recognized, but were also given their own spotlights; Thayer sang Ace’s “Shock Me,” while Singer did Peter’s ballad “Beth.”  The band touched on every album from their debut to 1979’s Dynasty, with the discofied “I Was Made For Lovin’ You.”  Not surprisingly, their first record got the most notice, with five songs played.  One difference in this tour is the acknowledgement of the non-makeup years, with songs like “Lick it Up,” “God Gave Rock n’ Roll to You” and, most surprisingly, “Crazy Crazy Nights.”  Yes, they played standards like “Detroit Rock City,” “Shout it Out Loud,” and “Rock n’ Roll All Nite.”  The fact is, most bands of their age are getting by with playing slightly over an hour each night, while Kiss played for double that.  Stanley’s voice did sound a little hoarse, yet the band never had to do a song in another key just to fit his vocal range (something most older bands are doing).  Kiss has certainly merchandised themselves to death, and they’ve gone on without two of their original members, yet they proved that theirs is still the benchmark for all other bands wanting to put on a rock n’ roll spectacle.