Saturday night in Vancouver was shaken from its rainy funk with a stunning display by rocks masters, KISS. The fans poured in from the darkness of the night. The cold fall showers couldn’t wash away their eager little grins. Men, woman and children dawned face paint in homage to their favorite KISS member. Facsimiles of Simmons and Stanley in full stage gear, marched through the halls of General Motors Place. The KISS Army was in full force; showing the true commitment it takes to become a soldier.
The merchandise and beer booths were equally chaotic. A sea of demonic clown faces, filtering through the various entrance points to the seating area. Once on the floor the fanatics were in full swing. The enthusiastic crowd was eager for the show to commence. Drinks were being consumed at an alarming rate; as if at any moment someone would come along and take the beverages away from them. Surely the hangovers to be felt the next day would be many, and paralyzing.
Dirty style rockers Buckcherry started the night off on the right foot. With their party anthem music pounding through the arena. Josh Todd was in good form, with his voice permeating the air. The entire band has definitely grown since my last encounter with them at Crue Fest back in 2008. They seemed more comfortable on stage, able to cater to the crowd without losing control. Steering the mood as they dictated. The entire band was more fluid on stage; the entire performance was refined from the previous display. Most of all the drummer, who now had a fan blowing from below him. As he pounded away on the skins, his long black curls flipped in the air; adding a classic rock visual to the set.
The crowd took in everything Buckcherry had to dish out. It was the perfect entree for KISS. The band left the stage on a high note, bringing down the house with Crazy Bitch, their more well known single. Soon enough the fanatics in the stadium were hungry again. Like starving dogs they barked out demands to the stage in desperation for KISS to present themselves. The lights began to fade, and the fans rose to their feet. The curtain was lifted, and their stood KISS, in all their leather studded glory.
Without hesitation, the show went into high gear. Pyrotechnics and an over the top stage setup had the unwavering attention of the crowd. Explosions and live video forcing visuals at you from every angle. This band has a formula and they don’t ever stray far. All three guitarists stand side by side in front of the 7-foot-tall KISS sign, which is illuminated in Vegas style yellow bulb lights. In perfect unison, they headbang to the rhythm as the clicks of the photographers capture the rehearsed moment.
Throughout the show, every known stage piece was performed. Be it from Gene Simmons and his blood spitting or fireball breathing, to Paul Stanley smashing his guitar, it was all their. Like a well-known play, they acted out their show. The music was loud, the vocals were rough, but it was perfect. The use of cabling had Simmons lifted to the rafters, some 100 feet up, where he played a couple tunes before being lowered back down in the darkness to the stage. Stanley was whisked across the arena, just over the heads of the fans. His destination was a small circular stage sitting center stadium. Allowing every seat the perfect line of sight to the lead singer.
The overall music was a stacked deck of hits. This band does not waver from its usual fail-safes, and tonight was no different. With the mass of KISS army followers barking out every lyric the night went off without a hitch. Every person seemed to enjoyed the show, no complaint could be heard. The cap off the night, confetti canons littered the stadium with paper particles as each of the four members were raised high in the air by separate hydraulic lifts. The band had completed its near two and half hour set and exited stage right. Slowly the massive group of fanatical music lovers followed suit. Near a hundred of which stayed behind to sort through the confetti-covered floor for any sign of a guitar pick.
The show was intense, and had me smiling all the way home. No one goes to a KISS show to here the vocal talents of Stanley or the bass stylings of Simmons. This is about performance, and as such it was exactly what it needed to be. This band brings its top game to every show. The two remaining original members are looking a little aged, but nothing another face lift can’t fix. Rock royalty has its kings and queens but for now KISS will remain in the monarchy as the permanent jester of the court. They know what they are and they do it better than anyone else.