July 11, 2009

Thousands of screaming fans ‘loved-it-loud’ last night when legendary rockers KISS took to the stage at Sarnia Bayfest.

“How you doin’ people?” yelled Paul Stanley to a screaming crowd, with cameras high in the air, at 10 p.m. sharp. “Did you come tonight to get some rock and roll?

“Well you came to the right place.”

Outrageous pyrotechnics exploded on the massive stage as frontman Gene Simmons belted out the opening hit, “Deuce,” amid a thundering roar from the 21,00 strong crowd, dominated by their famous fan following known affectionately as the KISS Army.

Stanley followed up with “Strutter,” before embarking on a number of classic hits.

This probably was the most prep we’ve ever done for a show,” said organizer Michele Stokley, citing a fleet of eight trucks, four buses, 900 pounds of dry ice and enough pyro to fire-bomb a city.

“I’m going on probably an hour and a half’s worth of sleep, but when we see the show, its all going to be worth it,” she said hours before the headliners took the stage.

Jan Moran was on cloud nine.

“I just met Gene Simmons,” said the winner of The Observer’s Superfan contest, who earlier managed to swindle her way backstage to get up close and personal with the famous frontman — debunking rumours he wouldn’t make the trip to Sarnia.

“He twirled me around and said, ‘Come here, sweetie,’ and we took a picture,” she added. “He said I looked pretty hot.”

Moran and her galpals arrived at the much-anticipated KISS concert in signature rock-glam makeup and costume. The foursome snagged VIP tickets after submitted a contest video they’d dedicated to the band.

But they weren’t the only ones dressed up.

Devout fans donned the band’s infamous face paint – mimicking Simmons, the “demon” and Stanley, the “starchild” – clad in KISS costume and ready to rock and roll all night.

Ron Dunlop and his sons, aged eight, six and three, were clad in full KISS regalia and makeup while waiting in line for much of the afternoon. The family made the trip from Chalk River, Ont. for the young trio’s first KISS concert.

“It’s all the extra things they do to just make the show better than others,” said William, the eldest son.

“I’ve been a fan since I was 14,” said Dunlop. “They treat their fans with so much respect, and they’ll do anything to please them.

“They always put on a great show.”

The group — Simmons, Paul Stanley, Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer –— is on a series of Canadian stops that include Orillia, Windsor, Ottawa, Quebec City, Montreal and Halifax.