YOU WANTED THE BEST, YOU GOT THE BEST! THE HOTTEST BAND IN THE WORLD … KISS! That is the mantra that has started every single KISS show since the bands inception, when they were playing small clubs and dive bars around NYC to 44 years later at Dayton’s Nutter Center.
No other band could make such a bold statement and not only live up to it, but surpass it each and every night for 44 years solid. I have been to over 50 KISS shows, dating back to when I was a skinny little kid whose room was plastered wall-to-wall with Kiss posters to just this week, and I can honestly say I have never been to a bad performance.
The Nutter Center concert was a bombastic, fantastic, nostalgic spectacle with more fireworks than I experienced during the 4th of July, all accompanied by a soundtrack by one of the best pure rock bands of the 70s and 80s. This time out, the extravaganza was dubbed The Freedom to Rock Tour 2016.
The stage was a bit more plain than the usual massive sets the band is known for. They blasted off with two instant classics, “Detroit Rock City” followed by “Deuce,” which had the nearly sold out crowd on their feet and hungry for more.
There was plenty of between-song rap from The Starchild Paul Stanley. This guy is the ultimate rock star/showman, and can banter better than anyone. The band tore thru “God of Thunder,” where bassist Gene Simmons spit blood, singing while hoisted high above the crowd, suspended from two wires. A kickass rendition of “Shock Me” with guitarist Tommy Thayer doing his Ace Frehley inspired guitar solo, complete with a Les Paul, rocketed across the arena to the delight of the fans.
What was cool about this show was that the band pulled out some more obscure songs from their catalogue. It was incredible to see them play “Flaming Youth,” “I Love it Loud,” “Lick it Up” and “War Machine,” which featured The Demon breathing fire.
Other classics such as “Do You Love Me,” “Shout it Out Loud,” and “Cold Gin,” were played. “Love Gun” featured The Starchild ziplining, guitar in hand, across the arena to an alternate stage in the back where he sang the entire song. The usual set closer, “Black Diamond,” highlighted drummer Eric Singer taking over vocal duties from the bands’ old drummer, Peter Criss.
For the encore, the band returned with Singer centerstage singing the famous ballad “Beth,” only this time out there was no piano. The entire group was onstage doing a sort of unplugged acoustic version of the song, complete with a guitar solo. As the song ended, vocalist Paul Stanley explained to the crowd that the Freedom to Rock Tour was dedicated to all the men and women of the armed forces and veterans of past wars.
They were joined onstage by several uniformed members of the military, and a color guard, as the band first had the entire arena recite the Pledge of Allegiance, then doing an amazing, loud version of “The Star Spangled Banner.” At the end, Stanley presented a check for $150,000 to The Wounded Warrior Project. It was definitely a high moment of the evening that could only be topped by a kickass, raucous version of — you guessed it … “Rock and Roll All Night.”
The energy in the building was intense, the music was loud, the fireworks and pyro were non-stop. A Kiss show is more than just a rock concert. It is an aural and visual attack on the senses, a rock and roll party on the grandest scale … hell, these guys smashed the scales early on. 44 years later, you look around at any Kiss audience and you see fans of all ages … parents bringing their kids to the show in full makeup, like some right of passage. I saw kids as young as eight, to men and women in their 70s. A true testament to the bands longevity and reputation as The Hottest Band in the World.
As for me, I chalk it up as yet another spectacular Kiss show, only nowadays, I no longer Rock and Roll All Night … If I do, I’m usually passed out all day.