35 years? Wow. It’s not so hard to believe that KISS has been around since forming in New York City in January of 1973, but what’s so amazing is their ability to still rock as hard as ever. Known for their spectacular live shows, KISS reminded everyone why they’ve always had a larger than life image when they hit Chicago’s United Center last night with supporting act, Buck Cherry. Like so many of their shows before, staples such as fire blowing, blood spitting, explosions and spirited theatrics took place at a level only KISS could provide. Donned in traditional KISS gear – painted faces and all – frontmen Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons (the “Lover” and “Demon”) dominated the stage as two powerful presences on a mission to rock. Making references to the KISS Army, it was clear Stanley was there to thank their minions for years of undying support.
Though original guitarist Ace Frehley and drummer Peter Criss were not present, they were hardly missed. Ok, they were, but their replacements couldn’t have filled in any better musically and performance-wise. Tommy Thayer took on Frehley’s role as the “Spaceman” while Eric singer dressed as Criss’ “Catman” to reunite the four original characters, bringing fans back to yesteryear when the band was the biggest thing since The Beatles, as far as world popularity goes.
With the set resembling that of their famous Alive! tour, KISS went into many classics such as “Strutter”, “Black Diamond”, “Hotter then Hell” and the anthemic “Rock and Roll All Night”. The art of the instrument solo also returned. Simmons displayed his bass prowess, soloing in “I Love It Loud” while Singer bashed away showing off his ability in “100,000 Years” and Thayer let loose in “She”. After a full dose of KISS standards the costume clad crowd was treated to even more rock mayhem with encores “Shout It Out Loud”, “Lick It Up”, “Love Gun”, finishing the night with “Detroit Rock City”.
As Gene Simmons proved to be as fearsome as ever, Paul Stanley also stayed true to form busting out his signature stage strutting moves that included his disco-like strut and patented hip shaking. Though Stanley’s voice was strong for the most part, on a few occasions he struggled with his range – mostly towards the show’s end. Still, despite a couple mild signs of an aging band, it was a youthful show that propelled constant excitement throughout the crowd and left fans hoping for many more KISS tours to come. For a rock show, it was the total package – a visual and musical experience one would never forget.