October 23, 2009
KISS at BankAtlantic Center, Sunrise

By John Hood

From the number of kids running around the BankAtlantic Center at Kiss' show last night, many replete with full make-up, it's apparent that one need not be of a certain age to appreciate the hard rock demigods -- you just have to feel it. Oh, I'm not talkin' about feeling 30 or 40 or 50 or more. I'm talkin' about feeling like a 10-year-old. And with Kiss, you could be bridging the century mark and still feel as if you were in fifth grade.

And I'll tell you right now: there is absolutely nothing wrong with that at all. In fact, I'd argue that it's a damn good thing indeed. And if more folks would let loose their inner child every once in awhile, this wild world would be a much better place.

Of course that would entail Kiss never coming off the road. But hey, if the recently-anointed Rock and Roll Hall of Famers can make it to "Alive 35" who's to say they can't keep it up in perpetuity? And so long as Kiss keeps knocking 'em outta the arena as they did at BankAtlantic last night, everybody's inner child will be running freely for some time to come.

From the get go it was evident we were all in for a night of neo-vintage Kiss. The pile-driving "Deuce" opened the show, just as it did lo those many years ago when the Kiss Alive LP first broke the band in all the lands. And with its lights and its loud and the bombs bursting in mid-air, the song slammed home as if it were 1975 all over again. Hell, they even prefaced the show with the trademark intro: "You wanted the best and you got it. The hottest band in the land. Kiss!"

If I'm not mistaken -- and I was jumping around like such a tyke it's a good possibility that I am -- Kiss next hit with Alive's "Strutter," "Got to Choose" and "Hotter Than Hell," again, just as they did way back when. But instead of saving "Let Me Go, Rock 'n' Roll" for the end, they put it up front amid the initial onslaught.

Unfortunately, to me anyway (and this was the only unfortunate thing about last night), "Rock 'n' Roll" set up a series of extended solos and chants that seemed almost superfluous considering the kickass songs Kiss has to rely upon. But since it all led up to Gene Simmons's blood-soaked rising high into the rafters for "I Love it Loud," I suppose it was well worth the wait. If you think Simmons is scary up close, imagine him lording over the arena from 100 feet in the air. It was enough to make you go out and kill all your idols.

As hoped (and pretty much expected), the powerhouse set rocked shut with a confetti-saturated version of the classic sing-along "Rock and Roll All Nite," which is just as beautifully stupid and dumbly fun as it's always been. For the band it was also a perfect excuse to render the whole Center into a blizzard of white; for me it was a reason to jump up and down like an idiot one more time.

But of course Kiss is much more than a bunch of one-hit tricksters, and after a brief and obligatory adjourning they returned to unleash a four-song encore that began with the anthem "Shout it Out Loud" and concluded with the killer cool "Detroit Rock City," easily the band's best song ever. In between there was a flame-framed "Lick it Up" and a spiraling rendition of "Love Gun," which saw Paul Stanley fly over the crowd and back by the sound booth so he could sing from a small spinning stage near the rear of the arena.

All in all it was everything anyone could ask for in a full-scale rock spectacle. And whether you're a Kiss Army member in good standing or you'd let your membership lapse back when you still believed in super heroes, Alive 35 undoubtedly brought out the wild child inside of you. If that's not the mark of a damn good concert, then nothing is.

Critic's Notebook

Personal Bias: I was of a certain age back when Alive was a world-wide sensation. It was great to be able to act a certain age all over again.