August 16, 2010

Photo by Jose Hernandez, Jr

Multitudes of Demons, Star Children, Spacemen and Catmen invaded Montage Mountain on Sunday evening as the KISS Army was out in full force at the Toyota Pavilion in Scranton.

And a little bit of lingering drizzle was not going to stop the "Hottest Show on Earth."

I knew going in, deep down, it would not come close to my other encounter with the KISS phenomenon - July 1996 at Madison Square Garden with all four original members on the first reunion tour - but, the show actually came much closer than I expected.

For pure entertainment value, and good old rock 'n' roll fun, KISS, no matter who the members are, is hard to beat. Sunday's show brought original members Paul Stanley as the Star Child and Gene Simmons as the Demon, plus newer members Tommy Thayer as the Spaceman originally portrayed by Ace Frehley and Eric Singer as the Catman originally played by Peter Criss.

The main set was great, but it did drag a little for me around the 10th or 11th song, and I was just beginning to think it was too much of a good thing and I wanted to leave. Then came the strong main-set finish of "I Love It Loud," "Love Gun," "Black Diamond," and "Detroit Rock City."

And the encore was pure bliss from start to finish. When most bands come back and do a song or two, KISS gives you a whole additional mini-set wherein each song is basically one-upping the one before it. Sunday's encore was six songs long, starting with a surprising version of "Beth" (I was told by a guy who watches "Gene Simmons Family Jewels" faithfully that Gene had just said they don't do that song anymore since Peter Criss left the band), went through "Disco Kiss" territory with "I Was Made For Loving You," and ended, of course, with "Rock and Roll All Nite."

The show then concluded with fireworks, confetti (I saw one woman meticulously save some of the non-descript white rectangles in her KISS merchandise bag), and a message on the big screen: "KISS loves you Scranton!"

I was good-naturedly warned by a helpful longtime fan before KISS took the stage: "Don't look directly at the stage for any length of time... Earplugs would not be a bad idea. ... And you will definitely feel the heat!"

It's too late for me, save yourselves...

KISS, with the KISS Army marching close behind, will next take over the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in Saratoga, N.Y., tonight. They will be in Uncasville, Conn., at the Mohegan Sun Arena on Thursday and at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, N.J., on Friday. The current leg of this tour ends in Guadalajara on Oct. 2.