KISS — Interviews, concert reviews and commentaries

by Alan K. Stout

Hard-Driving KISS Still Has The Power

(Concert Review, July 2004)

The Times Leader
July 24, 2004

By Alan K. Stout
Times Leader Staff Writer

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SCRANTON - For KISS, bigger has always been better.

Some bands have a charismatic lead singer. KISS has two.

Some bands have a big bright band logo hanging over the stage. KISS has two.

Some bands, though probably none other than KISS, might have a member actually fly during the concert. KISS has two.

Some bands might have a video screen on stage. KISS has 18.

Some bands have a stack of amplifiers on stage. KISS has more than 60.

KISS brought all of this - an arsenal of bombs, pyro, and power chords - to the Ford Pavilion at Montage Mountain on Friday, rocking the crowd of 9,200 with the biggest and brightest show to hit the venue since, well ... KISS played there four years ago.

Still, it isn't flash and glitz that has helped KISS sell some 100 million albums, it's great rock songs, and the band kicked them out in fine fashion, dishing out gems such as "Love Gun," "Deuce," "Makin' Love" and "Lick It Up" with pounding authority. They also dusted off the gem "Got To Choose" - a tune they haven't played live in more than 25 years.

Rhythm guitarist and vocalist Paul Stanley was, as usual, the perfect host and ringmaster. Some bands might acknowledge the name of the town they're in once. Stanley did it more than a dozen times and acknowledged both Scranton and Wilkes-Barre.

Ultimately, what makes KISS such a cool hard rock band is its ability to write songs with driving chords, snarling licks and catchy grooves. This was most evident during numbers such as "I Want You," "War Machine" and "100,000 Years."

They've also got a gift for anthems and inspired the crowd with sing-along favorites such as "I Love It Loud," "Shout It Out Loud" and "God Gave Rock & Roll To You II," the latter of which was accompanied by a video montage of some of rock's all-time great acts.

Throughout the show, bassist and vocalist Gene Simmons was his delightfully nasty self, breathing fire, spitting blood and flying to the top of the rafters during "Unholy." Not to be upstaged, Stanley also flew about 150 feet out into the crowd and sang "I Was Made For Lovin' You" amid the audience.

"Step up!" shouted Stanley during "Psycho Circus," and the crowd responded by answering his energy. Even in the seated area of the amphitheater, no one ever sat.

Original members Ace Frehley and Peter Criss were missed, but only because of their personas. Drummer Eric Singer and guitarist Tommy Thayer played perfectly, giving KISS perhaps its best musical lineup since the early '90s. Despite all the pomp, KISS can play, and they played well. And Stanley, now in his early 50s, can still sing as well as anybody in rock.

(He says he hopes to eventually return to his starring role in the stage production of "Phantom of the Opera.")

KISS' pacing was simple: start and don't stop. Save for some chat from Stanley, most songs just slammed into one another. The group's always been good at putting together a strong set list, and this show was no exception. If you were looking for a "rest song" to take a breather, you were out of luck. Just try taking a seat during "Detroit Rock City" or "Rock & Roll All Nite," which was accompanied by more confetti and more fireworks than most Fourth of July celebrations.

With KISS bigger is definitely still better, and they are still rock's premiere live band.