Torrential rain wasn't enough to dampen the spirits of three generations of Kiss fans —10,453 in all — who celebrated through an 18-song concert in an atmosphere that resembled some unholy combination of Halloween and the Fourth of July.
Endless debates continue among Kiss loyalists and defectors regarding absent original members, whether merchandising has been whored into oblivion and whether or not the gimmick and Kiss brand has run its course. Let's just say that the current “35 Alive” Tour is comparable to decent Scotch — not quite the finest, single-malt bottle of Glenfiddich, but a far, far cry from the low-rent, rotgut-blended J.R. Dial.
Most impressive was the set list. Kiss played only two songs from the new album, one from the no-make up days (the title track to 1983's “Lick It Up”), and only one other post-1977 tune (“I Love It Loud,” one of the signature tracks off the highly underrated “Creatures of the Night” from 1982). Otherwise, the band mixed hits with excellent deep cuts. Among the most well-executed numbers were Tommy Thayer's handling of Ace Frehely's “Shock Me,” as well as the triple assault of relics “She,” “Parasite” and “100,000 Years,” the last of which included a rudimental, yet explosively entertaining drum solo by Eric Singer. After closing the set with “Rock and Roll All Night,” and a blizzard of confetti, Kiss delivered the four-song encore of “Shout It Out Loud,” “Lick It Up,” “Love Gun” (with Paul Stanley swinging Tarzan-style to a mini-stage at the back of the arena), and the signature anthem of any Kiss show, “Detroit Rock City.”
Perhaps Stanley went a little overboard on the between-song rants and the which-side-is-louder audience division, but what the hell? The man knows how to handle crowds, and he had this one in the palm of his hands. Some could argue his pipes aren't running at full throttle, but after 35 years of intense vocal abuse, they sounded just fine. (But his and Gene Simmon's may have been enhanced technically, because on certain songs their pitches would alternate between extreme lows and highs, and they'd furiously look around like they wanted someone's head on a platter.)
But the allure of a Kiss show is, at the end of the day, pure spectacle, plain and simple. With enough fireworks, pyro and lighting to pinpoint our exact location from Mars, state-of-the-art video and projection screens, and trademark fire-breathing and blood-spitting antics from Simmons, whose makeup began to rub away from the intense heat midway into the fifth song, Kiss more than delivered the goods.