December 12, 2009
KISS still knows how to stage a rock spectacle


On Friday night, KISS was all platform boots, greasepaint, sequins and swagger.

The Starchild, Demon, Spaceman and Catman brought all of the above and a ton of pyrotechnics to the stage at the Mid-America Center.

Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer strutted around and played every classic in their arsenal, with the notable exception of "Shout It Out Loud."

And this is KISS, so don't forget about all of the flames and flash.

They basically pulled off every arena rock trick in the book. The stage was enormous, in three sections with several moving pieces. Fireworks and spouts of flame shot out of the stage, while vast video screens displayed the tricks and licks - both guitar and otherwise. Confetti filled the arena while lights flickered and swirled.

Band members got in on the action as well. Simmons and Stanley flew around the arena on cables.

Simmons spit fire and blood, and Stanley smashed a guitar.

Thayer shot fireworks from his axe and made pieces of the stage explode.

All four members of the band got an individual solo.

In short, it was the spectacle of rock spectacles. While they've all been seen and done, KISS probably invented them, so all the madness and explosions didn't feel cliche.

It helped that the audience bought into it.

Thousands filled the arena - only a few empty seats dotted the back of the venue - and clapped, sang, screamed and held up lighters during the two-hour set.

Stanley played to the crowd all night long, mugging for pictures, tossing countless guitar picks to fans and, at every turn, shouting "Council Bluffs . . . and Omaha!"

"I know a lot about you people," Stanley said to cheers. "I know some of ya' came from Omaha. The rest of ya' are locals. Some people talk about big cities. I believe in cities like you that really know what rock and roll is all about."

The KISS Army even got into songs from the group's 2009 album, "Sonic Boom," its first in 11 years. "Modern Day Delilah" and "Say Yeah" fit right in with classics that included "Calling Dr. Love" and "Rock and Roll All Nite."

The show's encore hit most of the band's big hits, including "Lick It Up," "Love Gun" and "Detroit Rock City."

Many in the crowd wore KISS makeup, including two groups in full KISS regalia - armor, too. Quite a few in the audience were children probably experiencing their first KISS show. Many, many others were obviously KISS Army veterans, sporting T-shirts and tattoos supporting the rock 'n' roll legends.

Stanley enjoyed the support.

"One thing is for sure, you are representing the Kiss Army in grand style," he said.