' CARNIVAL ROCKS HALIFAX
July 20, 2009
By Eric Lewis

Foursome rocks through early anthems, sets Halifax sky a-light on Saturday!

Thousands of the KISS Army faithful stormed the Halifax Common to see their heroes, the Demon, Star Child, Cat Man and Spaceman, rock the East Coast for the first time since 1977. For over two hours on Saturday night, KISS played classic rock anthems and blew up everything in sight, leaving fans' ears ringing and their faces smiling.

Flames shot from the stage, fireworks soared high above the crowd, Paul Stanley sailed over the audience to a small platform on the sound booth and Gene Simmons breathed fire and spit up blood. To steal from the band's 1998 album title, this was indeed a "psycho circus."

And while KISS is arguably known more for its bombastic, over-the-top carnival of a stage show than it is for much of its music, the music can't be discounted.

Fans sang, clapped and cheered along to classics like show opener Deuce, Cold Gin, Lick It Up and Rock And Roll All Night. Celebrating the 35th anniversary of its legendary live album Alive! (the anniversary actually takes place next year), the band dipped into material from its earliest days, including songs like Got To Choose, C'mon And Love Me and Nothin' To Lose. During the encore, they pulled a few tunes from the latter part of their '70s heyday, including Detroit Rock City and Shout It Out Loud.

It was a dreary Halifax day, with fog, mist and the occasional downpour of rain that left the concert site wet and muddy, but when a giant black banner with the unmistakable "KISS" logo in silver dropped from the lighting rig to cover the stage around 9:30 p.m., a roar came from the crowd. The weather wasn't going to stop fans from rocking out.

Soon after, a loud hum came from the stage, and the crowd roared once again before those famous words came blasting over the PA:

"Halifax! You wanted the best, you got the best ... the hottest band in the world ... KISS!"

And with that, there was a loud explosion, the giant KISS banner fell from the stage and KISS members Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley and Tommy Thayer descended from the lighting rig to the stage, launching into 1974 classic Deuce to open the show. Rock-steady drummer Eric Singer (dressed as Peter Criss' Cat Man character) was lowered to the stage on his own riser behind the rest of the band.

The band played most of the tracks from 1975's Alive! during its main set. After Hotter Than Hell, Simmons breathed a ball of fire into the air, which was unfortunately obscured from the view of many due to the heavy fog that was mixed with KISS' smoke machines.

After She, guitarist Tommy Thayer (dressed as the Space Man, made famous by founding KISS member Ace Frehley) shot rockets from the head of his Gibson Les Paul, and during 100,000 Years, Eric Singer played a drum solo, kit and all rising high above the stage on a riser that spewed smoke.

"You want to see us blow (stuff) up, don't ya?" Stanley asked early in the show. The thousands in attendance roared their approval and KISS followed through, its stage exploding again with fireworks when the band kicked into Black Diamond.

The spectacle was something to see, and feel, for when the band played Lick It Up in its encore, heat from the flames that shot from the stage could be felt hundreds of feet away.

Simmons' solid bass playing still laid a heavy groove down on tunes like 100,000 Years and I Was Made For Lovin' You, and Stanley showed his voice can still soar when he puts his all into it like on the latter track.

Tommy Thayer did an admirable job filling in for Frehley, who left the band a few years ago, and Eric Singer wowed many on drums, playing the songs with as much fire as they've ever had.

Bone crunching guitar riffs, throbbing bass, pounding drums and the biggest batch of explosions and fire you may have ever seen -- it was a recipe for one fun night out, led by rock n' roll's legendary face-painted foursome.

The band appeared to be having a lot of fun on stage, with each member practically demanding fans sing along.

Fan of the band or not, you were going to have a good time, and everyone did. Leaving the Common after the show, one could still hear people singing lines to songs, chatting about that a great show it was or admitting how much the first explosion from the stage spooked them.

During the show, Paul Stanley announced that KISS' next album, its first in 11 years, will be coming out on Oct. 6, which left many fans wondering -- when will the band be back to the East Coast?