KISS - Iowa, You Wanted The Best ... You Got The Best!
August 22, 2014, a month ago
“You wanted the best, and you got the best …” And the rest of this iconic introduction is forever embedded in the brains of every die-hard KISS fan. And it was met with loud approval as it was announced over the PA system before a packed house at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, IA on Wednesday night (August 20th). Celebrating 40 years of rockin’ and rollin’ all nite, the band did exactly that during its 75 minute set. At 9:45 PM, a giant kabuki drop curtain with the KISS logo emblazoned on it descended to reveal the costume-clad, face-painted super heroes as they launched into “Psycho Circus” amidst mass explosions. The band was in full strutting mode, hamming it up for the cameras, which was shown on one enormous video screen behind the band and big screens on each side of the stage. “Shout It Loud” was met with a great crowd sing-along on the anthemic chorus as the giant “spider” lighting rig moved up and down. Blasting plumes of flames were synchronized to the chorus of “War Machine” from Creatures Of The Night. “Hotter Than Hell” also utilized the band’s massive pyrotechnics while offering an opportunity for Gene’s famous fire breathing segment of the show.
Paul was in typical rapping mode throughout the show as he asked the crowd, ‘Who likes to lick it?’ as the band sauntered into the opening riff to “Lick It Up.” During the song, the band slipped in The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again” bridge, then eased back into the main riff. As fog rolled across the stage, Gene was bathed in an ominous green hue as he launched into his by now classic echo-chord bass solo while spitting blood. It’s a celebrated part of the show in which the Demon has honed for 40 years. He then quickly flew straight up like a jet-propelled bat to an above-stage riser where he belted out “God Of Thunder.” At a KISS concert, generations of generations of KISS fans celebrate together as one big army, parents with their kids present, in which Paul acknowledged several Starchild-painted faces of kids in the crowd. Paul then declared that KISS has been there for their parents all of these years and that they will still be here for them when they grow up, which elicited a thunderous applause. At that point, it probably wasn’t a good moment to play “Hide Your Heart” from Hot In The Shade. It didn’t fare very well and quite honestly, I never cared for that song or the late-eighties era of KISS.
Paul told the audience that he wishes he can be in the crowd celebrating with all the fans, which he then propelled above the crowd on a zip line that jettisoned him to the back of the arena on a makeshift riser that extended above the soundboard as he performed a rousing rendition of “Love Gun” and “Black Diamond.”
Back on the main stage, Paul stated that the band didn’t want to waste any time by going off and coming back out again for a traditional encore, so they played two more songs instead before the strict 11 PM curfew. After declaring Des Moines a great “rock city,” they promptly launched into, you guessed it, “Detroit Rock City.” It received a great crowd response and Gene’s bass was thumping along vibrantly. Ending the night with “Rock & Roll All Nite” was very fitting. Huge confetti canons at the bottom of the stage shot out millions of pieces of rolling paper-thin debris into the crowd for the duration of the rollicking finale.
Although opening band The Dead Daisies did an admirable job, sounding like a modern day Rolling Stones, I could have done without them. This would have added another 30 minutes to KISS’s set and I would have preferred to hear “Firehouse,” “100,000 Years” or “Cold Gin.” Def Leppard did an admirable job of warming up the crowd with their immense hits throughout their 75-minute set.
Love ‘em or hate ‘em, KISS has been around for 40 years and this display was a testament that the band can still put on one helluva show.