On Saturday, JR and I saw KISS in concert in Fresno. (photo courtesy of JR Beckwith)
We got there just before 8:00 and the opening act, local band Shiver Fox was playing. Neither of us had ever heard of them. They were pretty good, but I can’t remember anything they performed. I just thought it was cool that a local band was playing as the opening act.
Just after 9:00, the lights went out and the crowd went crazy. The video screens on the sides of the stage showed Gene, Paul, Tommy and Eric walking backstage and then the obligatory “You wanted the best, you got the best. The hottest band in the world... KISS!”.
Needless to say, the place went nuts!
The set list:
Deuce - of course they opened with this one! Strutter Let Me Go (Rock and Roll) Hotter Than Hell Shock Me - sang by Tommy Thayer... awesome! Dr Love Modern Day Delilah - good choice from the new album Cold Gin - Paul asked the crowd not to drink and drive Tommy guitar solo Parasite Say Yeah - another selection from Sonic Boom 100,000 Years / Eric drum solo - I miss Eric Carr, but Eric Singer is awesome! Gene bass solo I Love It Loud Paul plays intro to Stairway To Heaven Black Diamond - sang by Eric Singer Rock And Roll All Night
The band exits.
A minute or so later, at 10:40, the band came back on the stage for their bow. As the fans scream for an encore, Paul says “it will be the longest encore you've ever heard”.
Shout It Out Loud Lick It Up Love Gun - Paul sang some of it from a platform in the middle of the floor. Detroit Rock City
At 11:00 the show was over for good. Awesome show!
Of course the show came with flames shooting from the stage, as well as from Gene’s mouth, fireworks, including those shot from Tommy’s guitar (one of which hit an overhead set of lights, causing one end to swing free from the rafters), Gene flying up to the top of the arena, not far from the ceiling, and huge platforms that must’ve been 3 or 4 stories tall.
I consider myself a die-hard KISS fan. The fact that the band is performing with “hired hands” playing the roles of Ace Frehley and Peter Criss has caused some controversy. Seems that some fans dislike Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer playing those “characters”. I think the band is much better with Tommy and Eric. Ace and Peter are due heaps of respect but their time has come and gone, and come and gone again. Let’s not forget that there were other awesome musicians in the band. Criss was replaced by the late Eric Carr, who lost his battle with cancer 11-24-1991 (side note: don’t get me started on the Freddie Mercury / Eric Carr bit). Eric Singer joined the band after Carr’s death and has been there through some great and some terrible music. Ace was replaced by Vinnie Vincent, Mark St. John (one of my favorites), Bruce Kulick and then, ultimately, by Tommy Thayer. On the latest release, Sonic Boom, Paul, Gene, Tommy and Eric, came up with a sound that is classic in every sense of the word. Their sound is timeless and clean. I have no doubt that Tommy and Eric “dumbed down” their playing to match the style of their original band member brethren. This line-up is, by far, the best one Gene and Paul have put together. Period.
The Fresno show, and many others, was not a sell-out. Does that mean that KISS has lost their touch? I wouldn’t say that. After 35 years, the fact that they can put on this type of spectacle 4-5 nights a week means they still have it!
Gene’s age showed but he looked a thousand times more of the rocker than he does on Family Jewels. Paul’s voice was not 100% the entire show but talked to the crowd more than I remember him doing in ’96 when I saw them in Sacramento. If they go back out on tour in another 13 years, the 2022 tour, I can only imagine that Gene and Paul will have replaced, or cloned, themselves.
Check out the pics here.