When I was in high school KISS was playing at a local venue. I was planning on going with a group of girls, but as usual, my mother said no. She wouldn’t let me go to concerts, and she especially wasn’t letting me see KISS, even though the venue was about five miles away and parents volunteered to bring us both ways.
Flash forward to late 2003. KISS is touring with Aerosmith. I’m excited-I had never seen Aerosmith, either. My husband can only tolerate so much, and this was one concert he refused to attend. So I did the next best thing: I brought my two oldest kids, who were both in high school. Yes, I’m the cool mom!
Which brings us to August 2019. Still the cool mom, my oldest son and I were in the front row balcony when KISS brought their tour to my neck of the woods. Thousands of fans packed the amphitheater and lawn, some in face paint, many in KISS t-shirts from this tour and tours from years ago. The “KISS Army,” as the die-hard fans are called, were in full force.
“You wanted the best, you got the best. The hottest band in the world…KISS!!” The curtain dropped, and descending from the ceiling were Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, and Tommy Thayer, playing the opening licks to “Detroit Rock City.” Drummer Eric Singer was on an elevated platform at the back of the stage. Fireworks and fire were prevalent throughout the concert; I could feel the heat of the fire from the balcony!
KISS played the hits you would expect at one of their concerts: “Shout It Out Loud,” “Calling Dr. Love,” “Deuce,” and “Lick It Up.” KISS doesn’t simply sing their songs, they perform their songs. With the exception of “Beth,” beautifully sung by Eric Singer while playing the piano alone on the stage during the encore, every song had pyrotechnics, lasers, lights, rising platforms-more like a show within a show. And the crowd ate it up.
Paul Stanley, at 67 years old, is just as enthusiastic and happy to be on stage as he was when KISS was in their heyday during the 1970s. His schtick was obviously rehearsed and a bit insincere: “we will never, ever forget this night.” But that can be forgiven as he was relating to the crowd and showing appreciation. As a concert fan, I would rather hear that than have the artist ignore the fans.
A highlight of the show was “I Was Made For Loving You,” where Stanley was zip lined to the back of the amphitheater to a second stage.
Before finishing the encore Stanley lead the crowd in singing happy birthday to Gene Simmons, whose birthday was the next day. Simmons proudly told the fans he was 70 *bleep bleep* years old. You’d never know it as he stood there in full leather and platform boots.
The just over two-hour concert ended with arguably their most popular and well-known song, “Rock and Roll All Nite,” complete with KISS balloons dropped into the crowd and enough confetti to keep the maintenance team busy for days.
KISS isn't just a concert, it’s an experience. The fans, ranging in age from grade school kids to senior citizens collecting social security, were looking for a good time that night and they got their money’s worth. It was loud, gawdy, sometimes silly, even cartoonish-and the fans wouldn’t have it any other way.