KISS — Interviews, concert reviews and commentaries

by Alan K. Stout

Criss Is More Than A KISS To the Past

(Concert Review, November 1994)

The Times Leader
July 18, 2004

By Alan K. Stout
Times Leader Staff Writer

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PLAINS TWP. - Icy roads and falling temperatures couldn't keep hundreds of die-hard KISS fans from taking in the performance of ex-KISS drummer Peter Criss on Wednesday, Nov. 23 in The Woodlands Grand Ballroom.

Performing with his new band, CRISS, the group opened the set with "Strike" from Criss' new album "Cat #1." Originally marred by soundboard problems - with the vocals sometimes inaudible - most difficulties were worked out by the second song of the evening, a performance of the KISS classic "Strutter," sung by CRISS member Mike Stone. An intense, Mohawk-wearing vocalist/guitarist, Stone's intense mannerism and delivery was a great contrast to the often-smiling, fun-spirited Paul Stanley, who originally wrote and sang the song for KISS.

"Bad Attitude," the best track on Criss' new album, was next. The first song sung by Criss himself at the show, the hard-driving "Bad Attitude" tells of Criss' feud with The Star magazine, which published a false story stating he was a homeless alcoholic living under a pier in California.

(An impostor was telling people, including The Star, he was Peter Criss of KISS. Unbelievably, The Star interviewed the guy and ran the story without verifying it to be true.)

Clearly the most endearing aspect of seeing CRISS in concert is simply watching and listening to Peter Criss sing, and of course, play the drums. Just hearing the familiar raspy voice, watching him pound the bass drum, roll across the drum set and smash the cymbals with the same vigor as he did during his tenure with KISS - once called "The Hottest Band In The World" - was surely worth the admission price alone for this group of KISS die-hards.

Although some may point to the fact that Criss' voice may no longer be as strong as it once was, it actually sounded better at this show than at his 1992 performance at Market Street Square in Wilkes-Barre. His band is comprised of young, extremely energetic musicians - bassist Mark Montague, singer/guitarist Mike Stone, and guitarist Mike McLaughlin - all of whom looked like they were having a good 'ol time cranking out KISS classics and their own material in front of the drumming legend.

Other highlights of the show were Criss' feverish drum solo, which drew a roar from the gathering, and KISS' "Detroit Rock City," again sung by Stone. After a short break, the group returned for a funky acoustic performance of KISS' "She," plus "Hard Luck Woman," and the perennial fan favorite and KISS' biggest hit ever - "Beth" - during which Criss passed out roses to female fans throughout the first few rows of the audience.

The group returned for one encore, ending the show with a rip-roaring performance of KISS' "Nothing To Lose."

While Criss' current performances in smaller clubs to hundreds of fans is a far cry from the football stadiums and arenas he once played with KISS, he has been fairly inactive since leaving the group, and the fact that he can still draw crowds 14 years after he left the band is a testament to his endearing popularity with the group, and to the staying power of KISS' music.

In recent years, there's been frequent talk in rock's circles of the four original members of KISS - Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Ace Frehley and Criss - reuniting for a full-blown costume and make-up reunion tour. And while Frehley has released several albums and remained somewhat in the limelight, speculation is that Stanley and Simmons may question Criss' current drumming skills and wonder if he's up to the task.

If that's truly the case - and is the only stumbling block to such a reunion - here's a word of advice to Stanley and Simmons:

Check out CRISS in concert.

Then pick up the phone.