New line-up or not, I admit it: KISS brought the goods last night at Comcast Center just outside Boston, not just enough pyro to blow your head off. I may have to re-enlist in The Kiss Army after all. I could have been a general by now.
They sounded great, played well together, and delivered classic KISS faithfully, with incredible exuberance. By the time the last chords of anthem “Rock & Roll All Nite” rang out in the Mansfield night, I had to admit it – I couldn’t help but root for Kiss, yet again. Armed with a monster repertoire from which to choose and old-fashion determination, remaining Kiss’ Co-founders Gene Simmons & Paul Stanley still have enough fire in the belly to melt an adjacent iceberg. Greasepaint aside, these guys know how to win a crowd over and leave indelible impressions.
“You drive us wild, we’ll drive you crazy!” – Kiss, 1975
Seeing Kiss in 2010 is like a going through a time warp. I personally felt like I had time-traveled on Star Trek’s ‘Holodeck’ to 1978 to see Kiss at Space Mountain to re-live their TV-movie, “Kiss Meets The Phantom of The Park.”
I can explain….See, the ‘Phantom’ was my very first Kiss experience (sorry Michelle H.). I guess I was deemed too young to go to concerts then and there was no MTV yet. This was also before the advent of VCR’s, YouTubers, so my Mom & Dad did the only thing they could think of to appease my brother and I – they set up a tri-pod to snap a few photographs of the screen. It was a success and, strange to most, a slide of original drummer Peter Criss taken that night still ranks as one of my most treasured possessions.
Anyway….flash forward 32 years and I’m standing in the vending area pre-show, starting to get that queasy feeling I always seem to get before I see my childhood heroes. This time, however, it’s a little different. I am feeling really guilty about the fact that Ace Frehley & Peter Criss are gone. Feeling like hell about the fact that Gene & Paul have anointed a new ‘Spaceman’, and a new ‘Catman’. For some of us, it’s all too much. Will I be able to embrace these masked imposters?
As it turns out, it’s not the end of the world….at least as far as enjoying a Kiss show goes. Tommy Thayer delivers Ace better than probably anyone else on the planet, including Space Ace himself perhaps. And, at least Eric Singer has made some effort to alter his overly-linear drumming to better suit the classic Kiss groove that old Pete mined.
I was surprised to find a really wide demographic at the show; babies, kids, teenagers, mid-twenties hipsters, drop-outs, hicks, loner 30-somethings, Moms & Dads, 40-somethings like me, the elderly, even the handicapped were out in force.
It was like being at a fairgrounds, or a racetrack, or an amusement park…or… wait….NO,DAMN IT, IT WAS LIKE THE OPENING SCENES OF “KISS MEETS THE PHANTOM”! Were we time traveling? String Theory says we can?! I told my wife what was going on in the Kiss area of my brain and she just grimaced in dismay. Then it hit me, OMG!!!…..This evenings’ Kiss plot-line was not so dissimilar from the ’78 ‘Phantom’ movie either!! You see…in the movie, Kiss are replaced by diabolical robotic clones. Today, two of the original KISS members have been replace by musical robots in the sense that they have at least been programmed; programmed & paid to play like Ace & Peter.
I was now going to have to come to terms with all of this unpleasantness. To be honest, my Kiss world had been a cosmic mess ever since Peter and then Ace left the band again and KISStory repeated itself. Gene’s reality show wasn’t helping. The ‘new’ Kiss had brought me shame. What if Eric & Tommy actually were actually robots of some sort? Like in the movie. Plus, Gene & Paul could afford the best robots money could buy; surely they are working on it anyway. I wouldn’t put it past’em – mind control, whatever it takes. KISS is relentless.
Anyway, for some reason, all night I was unable to shake this ridiculous robot concern. BOY was I shaken then when they threw a new wrinkle into their the show that caught me totally off guard. So off guard in fact that for one harrowing nano-second I wondered if I really was stuck in a Kiss nightmare or if I had lost my mind entirely. They all stopped in unison for 15 seconds or more, like KISS action figures out of battery power. Or, holy shit, like ROBOTS! As if frozen in time, they didn’t make a sound, the silence grew deafening and the place went ape. KISS are again mainstream superstars and are even threatening to record another record to follow-up last year’s “Sonic Boom.” Brainwashed or not, I can’t help but suspect foul play. Two down and two to go, Devereaux.