October 17, 2009
by Eric Harabadian

They say "where there's smoke there's fire" and on Sept. 25 there was plenty of that, along with enough explosions and fireworks to set off the Fourth of July! You see, this was the opener of the "Kiss Alive 35" North American 40-plus city tour, and the classic quartet returned to the place where it all started for them back in 1975.

The seminal Kiss Alive! album catapulted the then-fledgling group from marginal success to multi-platinum status. The original album cover was taken at Michigan Palace, but the back cover, where the majority of the live album was recorded, displayed an anticipatory crowd at the sold-out Cobo Arena.

One might say that it was the mid-'70s all over again. There was a nostalgic glint in people's eyes and a palpable buzz and energy in the air. And the seemingly ageless and unstoppable rock n' roll machine known as Kiss delivered a timeless two-hour-plus extravaganza that seemed destined for the history books.

They kicked things off with "Deuce" followed closely by a faithful and grooving "Strutter." Ever the consummate MC, guitarist/vocalist Paul Stanley riled up the crowd leading into the mid-tempo "Got to Choose." "Hotter Than Hell" kept the hysteria in high gear as lead guitarist Tommy Thayer, flanked by a barrage of flames and fog, dove into a succinct, well-crafted solo.

The band essentially was counting down the lion's share of the original double album as "Nothin' to Lose" continued the love affair with the Detroit audience. At this juncture Stanley shared memories of playing Cobo early in their career.

The main set featured 15 Kiss standards. Additional highlights included cool drum and guitar interplay from long-time associate Eric Singer and Thayer, respectively, on "Parasite." "She" was another standout with strong group backing vocals and a spotlight for Thayer's chops and pyrotechnic theatrics. Gene Simmons got the venue rumbling with the bass intro to "100,000 Years" that laid the groundwork for Singer's revolving drum-riser showmanship and some call-and-response interplay with the crowd from Stanley.

Rock-steady versions of "Cold Gin," "Let Me Go Rock And Roll" and an abbreviated "Black Diamond" also did not disappoint. After a sincere-sounding message from Stanley to Detroit fans about overcoming economic adversity, they broke into the anthemic "Rock And Roll All Night," complete with cannons shooting streamers of confetti into the air.

Kiss was not stingy on encores, with a string of crowd-pleasers including "Shout It Out Loud," "Lick It Up," "I Love It Loud," "Modern Day Delilah" (off the upcoming disc Sonic Boom), "Love Gun" and, naturally, "Detroit Rock City."

Yes, indeed, bombs, fireworks, flames, blood and sweat were supplied by the band in copious amounts. Just as plentiful was the enthusiasm of the fans happy to see their costumed heroes within the hallowed halls of Cobo once again!