Kiss still blazes in shorter set at First Niagara Pavilion


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A re-energized Kiss has released two albums in the past five years, so you would think that at least one new song would crack the set list.

After all, the album titles were "Sonic Boom" and "Monster," suggesting something on there had to rock in some mighty way.

That wasn't the case Sunday night at the First Niagara Pavilion on this post-"Monster" summer tour as the band stayed with the tried and true in a lean, mean 14-song set of mostly classics.

The new toy to lay on the Kiss Army was the "spider stage" lighting rig that lowered three-quarters of the crew down to launch "Psycho Circus," something of a scene setter even if was the newest song in the set. Paul Stanley delivered it in his own shrill, pitchy way and from there it was Kiss in all its gory glory.

"We've been coming here since a lot you were born!" Mr. Stanley, the absolute master of between-song banter, shouted. It was one of the evening's few understatements, as they've been coming before some of the parents of the kids there were born.

"You're looking at a band that's in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!" he added.

Kiss is in the fire, blood and greasepaint wing of that dubious institution, and once again unleashed it all on stage.

Julia Rendleman/Post-Gazette

Gene Simmons, an original member of Kiss, plays with the band Sunday at First Niagara Pavilion in Burgettstown.

Gene Simmons, 64 and one of rock's premier loudmouths, sounded dark and forceful growling "Deuce" while handling the fire-breathing between "War Machine" and "Hotter Than Hell" and flying and blood-spewing on his demon anthem "God of Thunder."

Mr. Stanley did his flying, out to the B stage, on "Love Gun," just another song you don't want to explain to the kids.

They made "Lick It Up" all the more tasty and exciting by rising up on the spider while breaking into the "Won't Get Fooled Again" jam. From deeper in the catalog came "Hide Your Heart," which allowed Kiss to throw a little R&B into the mix.

Kiss, which still rocks all these years later, thanks in part to Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer, brought the brief set to an explosive climax with its three big hitters: "Black Diamond," "Detroit Rock City" and "Rock and Roll All Nite."

For the little ones in the facepaint and Kiss T-shirts, out late on a school night, Mr. Stanley repeated a point he made the last time: "Here's a message to the children: We were there for your parents and we'll be there for you!"

Fans who got into Kiss as teenagers around 1975 in the "Kiss Alive" era (raises hand) might not have be big on Def Leppard, which made its mark about five years later with "High 'n' Dry." The British band, a headliner at this shed many times, struck more of a chord with the slightly younger set.

Def Leppard seemed more suited to an opening role as frontman Joe Elliott was not pushing an overwhelming volume of sound out of his once high voltage pipes. So, add Def Leppard to the list of bands that could use a young tribute singer, or just use Motley Crue's backup singers for that occupational hazard. It doesn't help that the songs aren't all great to begin with.

The crowd did its part by joining in on the big hits like "Pour Some Sugar on Me" and "Rock of Ages," part of an encore fans didn't call for with much enthusiasm. On a life-affirming note was the one-armed, barefoot drum solo from Rick Allen, and guitarist Vivian Campbell being there having battled his way back from cancer.

 

Kiss set

Psycho Circus

Deuce

Shout It Out Loud

War Machine

Hotter Than Hell

I Love It Loud

Lick It Up (with "Won't Get Fooled Again")

God of Thunder

Hide Your Heart

Calling Dr. Love

Love Gun

Black Diamond

Detroit Rock City

Rock and Roll All Nite


smervis@post-gazette.com; 412-263-2576.

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