Concert Review: Kiss, Motley Crue bring impressive performance to First Niagara Pavilion


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Paul Stanley actually came out and said it in a recent interview. Kiss will go on without him and co-founder Gene Simmons. Mr. Stanley explained that Kiss was not just a band, but an "ideal" that was bigger than any one of them.

It's a little ridiculous to think of them blowing fire and running around in giant heels at, what, 65? 70?

But for now, the Kiss frontmen are a sprightly 62, and tonight at the First Niagara Pavilion, they pulled off the same tricks they did in 1976, and more, with a truck full of pyro and some well-placed wires.

On this "Tour," Kiss has a band of relative youngsters barking at its heels. Motley Crue was the kickstart, and it's still a tough act to follow.

The devilish Crue, which, by some miracle, still has all four original members, entered in a ghoulish procession through the back of the pavilion and took a fiery, steampunk-themed stage with "Saints of Los Angeles," the title track from its most recent (2008) album, played at punishing volume.

Most of the set, on the coolest stage the Crue ever had, was a hard rock blast from the '80s, with such hits as the driving "Wild Side," the obligatory power-ballad "Home Sweet Home," the sing-songy "Girls, Girls, Girls" and signature classic "Kickstart My Heart."

The Cr??e updated its set list with a trashy new single, "Sex," on which the screechy Vince Neil drove home a subtle message to the little kids who came out to see Kiss: "Oh! No! Don't need no love and no respect!/cause it's all about the sex!" Fortunately, they may have been distracted, not by the scantily clad dancers/backup singers, but by the water cannons.

Musically, the band is still a live wire with an explosive rhythm section (Nikki Sixx even had a fire-shooting bass) and the freakish Mick Mars freakishly nailing every guitar part. If you missed it at Stage AE last year, you got another shot to see Tommy Lee's drum rollercoaster, which took off on a vertical loop while he pounded to a techno track. He then took a fan on a ride to the tune of "Love Rollercoaster."

Kiss came down from a riser with all guns blazing on "Detroit Rock City" and "Shout it Out Loud." A few songs in, the band lit into "Firehouse," wherein Mr. Simmons gave the kids (of all ages) a cheap thrill with the fire-spitting trick.

The one downside to Kiss going out with co-headliners is that the main set is reduced to 13 songs, leaving some old "Kiss Alive" favorites on the shelf.

The band teased its forthcoming "Monster" album with the single "Hell or Hallelujah," which we can safely say doesn't point Kiss in any radically new direction. Tommy Thayer, who took over guitar and Spaceman duties from Ace Frehley, shot off some instrumental fireworks, literally and figuratively, on "Shock Me."

The high resolution video screens came in handy on the bass solo leading into "God of Thunder," giving us a monstrous close-up of Mr. Simmons spewing blood and flying around to the rafters on Kiss' most metal song. Mr. Stanley got to fly too, out over the audience to a smaller stage, on "Love Gun." Kiss signed off with drummer Eric Singer taking the vocal on "Black Diamond" and closed the concert and the Pavilion season with a celebratory "Rock and Roll All Nite."

As they say, a Kiss concert is like the circus coming to town, and it might just go on forever -- no holograms necessary. Lucky us, we get some of the original ringmasters.

KISS Set List

Detroit Rock City

Shout It Out Loud

I Love It Loud

Firehouse

Hell or Hallelujah

War Machine

Shock Me

Bass Solo

God of Thunder

Love Gun

Lick It Up

Black Diamond

Encore:

Deuce

Rock and Roll All Nite

Motley Cr??e set list

Saints of Los Angeles

Wild Side

Shout at the Devil

Same Ol' Situation (S.O.S.)

Sex

Don't Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)

Home Sweet Home

Drum Solo

Live Wire

Primal Scream

Dr. Feelgood

Girls, Girls, Girls

Kickstart My Heart music

Scott Mervis: smervis@post-gazette.com; 412-263-2576. Twitter: @scottmervis_pg


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