DETROIT'S COBO ARENA, REVISITED
November 01, 2009
By Paul Elliot

The KISS Alive 35 tour has played to huge audiences all over the world - at Download 2008, and in stadiums throughout North and South America in 2009. But there is one place above all others that has a special significance in KISStory. It's a place that the New York band think of as their spiritual home. A place they call Detroit Rock City.

It was here at the iconic, 11,000 capacity Cobo Hall (officially now known as Cobo Arena) that KISS recorded the show in March 1975 immortalised on their iconic double-live album Alive! This was the album that turned KISS into superstars, and, 34 years on, the band's return to the Motor City has an added emotional resonance. The venue that gave birth to the KISS legend is closing for redevelopment, so who better than the Hottest Band In The World to give the Cobo Hall its last hurrah?

As frontman Paul Stanley says to the crowd: "Let me tell ya, for us, this is the holy land. This is where it all started. Detroit, you opened your arms and you opened your legs. God bless ya!"

Every KISS show is an event, this one especially so. Fans have travelled vast distances to be here, including Dan from Wales and his mates, proudly displaying a KISS Army UK branch banner. Local hero Kid Rock is here too, with a couple of hot chicks, of course, and so is original KISS manager Bill Aucoin.

As is customary on this tour, the main set is essentially KISS Alive! Gene Simmons' fire-breathing act is switched from Firehouse to Hotter Than Hell; the opening one-two punch of Deuce and Strutter is as thrilling today as it was before many in this crowd were even born; Nothin' To Lose and Black Diamond have Eric Singer proving he can sing and play drums better than original member Peter Criss; likewise, Tommy Thayer's guitar solo reprises Ace Frehley's rocket-firing antics but minus the bum notes; and the closing Rock and Roll All Nite is still the greatest of all KISS anthems; played out in a blizzard of ticker-tape.

What follows is a marathon encore, beginning with the exultant Shout it Out Loud, Lick It Up, and the Zeppelin-inspired Modern Day Delilah from the Hammer-approved new album Sonic Boom. I Love It Loud is Gene's star turn, prefaced with his still-spooky blood-dribbling routine and performed after a death-defying swoop from stage to the top of the lighting rig. And Love Gun has Paul whizzing out over the audience to prance about on a small stage in the centre of the arena. The climax is - what else? - Detroit Rock City, KISS's tribute to the place and the people that, as Gene Simmons says, "made our wildest dreams come true."

Amid blinding, deafening fireworks, the band exits as they appeared, via a trap door beneath the flashing KISS logo. Whatever becomes of Cobo Hall, its legendary status, like that of KISS, is secured.




How was it for you?

Paul Stanley: KISS

"I thought it was a terrific show. There's such a great chemistry between the fans and the band. We went out and gave it our all and everyone left sweaty and happy! It was a momentous night. It was the first night that we went on sale and sold out, so I would have to say that those people are the diehards of the diehards.

"We have a history with Detroit, whether it was opening our reunion tour at Tiger Stadium or recording KISS Alive! at Cobo Hall. It wasn't emotional so much as exhilarating. I don't see the sad side of something -- I see the victorious side. To be the last band there, and to know that neither the fans nor KISS is going away, is a celebration of a victory. We had fans from not only every country but also of every age. The age range is pretty astounding, and it's something I'm very proud of. Young people that weren't around when the band started hear the legend of the band and come see it, and it's everything they've heard and more."