May 22, 2010
By Luke Luger

Wild-tongued Gene Simmons and the men of KISS brought their crazy rock and roll paraphernalia to the Wiener Stadthalle on Thursday.

"You wanted the best?" "You got the best!" "The hottest band in the world: KISS!" What followed were 120 minutes of rock and roll circus, including fake blood by the liter, guitar fireworks, loud explosions, a drummer floating up to the ceiling and a singer strutting and stomping on silver platform shoes. "Reality" definitely has no place in the Kiss universe.

No matter. The forefathers of full-frills stadium rock thrilled 15,000 visitors at the almost completely-sold-out Wiener Stadthalle, insistently invoking the healing power of rock and roll. Since 1973, Kiss' music has always followed the same pattern: highly flammable, rebellious blues-rock with glam visuals and sing-along lyrics that fluctuate between campy and grandiose. Stylistic musical experimentation and innovation? Please. Who needs it anyway?

Certainly not Gene Simmons, who together leads the band with singer Paul Stanley. "We have more firepower than most countries in the Third World," announced the 60-year-old bass player to the world at the opening of "Sonic Boom Over Europe" tour. And he's right. Here's to the pyrotechnics.

Of course, KISS, which has sold over 80 million albums during their career, is famous for their performances that are always a kind of vaudeville: the booms, the smoke, the rockets fired from guitars, and that bombastic, hard-rocking sound. The capital city quaked, the audience cheered wildly at the theatrical spectacle. It was a perfect rock and roll show in a colorful, Cinemascope format.

The New York foursome gave Austria a two-hour concert potpourri, spanning their 37-year career. From the current "I'm An Animal" on the indestructible classic "Detroit Rock City" to the guilty pleasure disco hit "I Was Made For Loving You," a massive tidal wave of drum beats and guitar rock barraged the band's fans. For the encore came "God Gave Rock'n'Roll To You" and "Rock And Roll All Nite," the latter about anthemic ecstasy in a state of permanent partying.

Kiss offers the salvation that only rock and roll can bring... if only for a single evening.

Translated from German for by Jill Cataldo