KISS – Alive 35 In Philadelphia; Report, Photos, Video Available
October 14, 2009, 8 years ago
by Mark Gromen
“You wanted best, you’ve got the best…” BOOM! The curtain emblazoned with a silver logo drops to the ground, revealing my (and tens of millions’ the planet over) teen favourites. Through the dry-ice fog, the white & black greasepaint of Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley were clearly visible, to the rapturous screams and applause of a near capacity Wachovia Center, filled with at least four generations of KISS fans. Right into ‘Deuce’ and ‘Strutter’, a vintage high energy, one-two punch (and part of the ’74 debut, which airs no less then five songs this evening!) punctuated by Simmons wagging tongue and gyrating pelvis, while Stanley flicked/blew picks to the crowd, playing a guitar positioned vertically, inverted and even between his legs. The stage resembled 80s MTV come to life. Flanked by a pair of giant KISS Army banners, a trio of video screens behind drummer Eric Singer (who’s perched atop a lighted “KISS” logo) could show separate close-ups or be combined into a single wall, half a football field long. Smaller, square video With photographers allowed but two songs in which to click away, the mainstay duo got most of the face time, new guitarist Tommy Thayer relegated to those cheering on the sides of the arena.
‘Hotter Than Hell’ saw the jumbotrons “ignite” in flames (was wondering about all the fire and pyro KISS have been renown for throughout their career, but a seeming no-no at most indoor US shows since the club tragedy in Rhode Island). As it concluded, more imitation smoke and blaring/flashing sirens (ala ‘Firehouse’, one of the old school omissions this go-round), the Demon appears. He spits fire, ignited from the hilt of a blazing sword, which is plunged into the stage upon completing the ceremony. After ‘Gotta Choose’, Stanley talks about old classics, versus new classics. “New classics can be found on Sonic Boom” (cue product placement, an oversized graphic of the CD cover art flashes on the screen) and it’s off to ‘Modern Day Delilah’, the lone inclusion from the new disc. Real flames, but in unnatural colors (reddish pink, chartreuse) shoot skyward at different points, as a lingerie clad model and thunderbolts dot the video boxes onstage.
As they announce ‘C’mon And Love Me’ one can practically see the entire audience lean back, in unison, air guitaring the opening chords. By now, sweat plasters stringy hair to Simmons’ face. ‘She’ features dynamic changes and searing guitars. The bassist plays to the simulcast cameras as much as those down front, making sure those in the last row of the upper deck see his visage. Eventually, Thayer is left alone onstage. Lifting his guitar overhead, the mirrored back reflects a beam of light into the crowd. As one guitar is left facing the cabinets (feedback inducing), a second instrument plucks out ‘Ode To Joy’ as a planetary themed montage is shown behind him. “Rockets” fly from the headstock, explodes and eventually sending lighting cans crashing to the stage.
A quick ‘Parasite’ shows video of microscopic amoebas scurrying, then it’s a Stanley approved “classic or classics”: ‘100,000 Years. A lengthy jam (not quite the titular duration), encompassing Singer’s solo on a levitating/rotating drum turntable. Giger inspired Technicolor motion accompanied the clap-along to increasingly quick drum beats (and cowbell). Stanley gets the crowd to shout and thrust their hands into the air, before he twirls the microphone chord (ala THE WHO’s Roger Daltrey), ultimately letting it coil around his neck. Re-armed with his Flying V, Stanley and Thayer trade notes on duelling guitars.
After the stage goes black, it’s Simmons and smoke plucking out bass notes interrupted by the occasional toll of a bell and a halo of white (angelic?) light from above, much to the Demon’s chagrin. Ultimately he “flies” to the rafters, perched atop the lighting rig. After vomiting blood, he sings ‘I Love It Loud’, as a quartet of phosphorous flares spark. Below, Stanley auditioned for dancing (strutting?) with the stars, as he and Thayer hold down the fort on the massive, multi-media stage. Pink lights match the shattered glass body of the guitar Stanley now wields, toying with the crowd by playing the opening bars of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Stairway To Heaven’ (which is met by a chorus of boos, is are the lyrics, ‘There’s a Lady…’). After the a cappella start of ‘Black Diamond’, BOOM! Explosions as Singer lives up to his surname, a chance to showcase his pipes.
‘Rock N Roll All Nite’ has long signalled the end of the concert, but now heralds the conclusion of the proper set, the requisite encore to follow. The party anthem still features confetti cannons and a man-made snowfall raining down throughout the venue. While the tour’s setlist has undergone some alterations during the first week, a few constants have remained part of the encore, including ‘Lick It Up’, ‘Love Gun’, ‘Gold Gin’ and the ‘Detroit Rock City’ (even though individualized t-shirts, specific to the city and venue are for sale) finale. Led by a pair of (nearly) 60-year old men, KISS remains a visual spectacle, so much so one of the 20-something photographers in attendance admitted, “I’ve never seen anything quite like this!” Doesn’t that say it all?
A complete BraveWords.com Photo Gallery can be found here.
Check out fan-filmed footage below: