By Greg Haymes
Photo by Michael P. Farrell
SARATOGA SPRINGS - On Tuesday night, it was Saratoga Rock City.
Kiss was rocking the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, and it was a strange sight to see not black-clad rocker-wanna-bes in line to the enter the show, but rather families of four or five all dressed in Kiss t-shirts, many sporting the famous make-up of their favorite Kisser. It was like they were going to Disneyland or something.
Come to think of it, a Kiss concert is kind of like a night at Disneyland.
There was, of course, a very sizable barrage of fireworks onstage beginning with the opening volley of "Modern Day Delilah" and recurring every couple of songs throughout Kiss' two-hour-and-10-minute show. Bassist Gene Simmons did his fire-breathing schtick during "Firehouse," spit blood during "I Love It Loud" and flew up into the overhead lighting rig like some malevolent Peter Pan. Tommy Thayer shot rockets from his guitar during his extended solo at the end of "Shock Me," while drummer Eric Singer launched a bazooka which sent some lighting fixtures crashing to the stage.
Guitarist Paul Stanley sailed out over the heads of fans to a revolving hydraulic platform at the sound board in the middle of the crowd to sing Kiss' disco anthem, "I Was Made for Lovin' You." And the band was nearly obscured completely by the billowing fog and endless confetti blizzard that erupted during "Rock & Roll All Nite," the finale of their 40-minute set of encores.
"This next is from our latest album, 'Sonic Boom,' which is available exclusively at Wal-Mart," Stanley shrieked to introduce the heavy sludge-stomp of "I'm an Animal." Well, no one ever accused Kiss of shying away from a marketing opportunity or a corporate tie-in. (By the way, parked just next to the stage in clear view of almost everyone in the amphitheater was a huge tractor trailer truck emblazoned with pictures of Kiss holding cans of Dr. Pepper.)
It seems as though nothing can stop Kiss, who have been churning out the same bombastic mix of theatrical arena-rock and catchy pop hooks for more than 35 years now. And that's a good thing... So let's hope that when Stanley and Simmons finally do decide to retire, they'll just hire a couple of other blokes to slather on the make-up and keep the Kiss franchise going. Really, what would rock 'n' roll do without them?