May 22, 2010
By Wolfgang Hauptmann
Photo by Epa Lacerda

Kiss is not just music: the fans want to see the bass player breathe fire, the rhythm guitarist to fly over the audience, the guitarist to shoot missiles and the drummer's drum kit fly -- and listen to popular songs. This is exactly what Vienna experienced on Thursday night.

Since 1973, the world has known the black-and-white painted faces and costumes of the fantasy New York band, whose career started with crunchy guitar songs and has continued uninterrupted to this day. Later they fit into the popular disco sound. They produced a less-than-well-received concept album, came to disputes and replaced members, and put their masked faces in storage for many years. After a hairspray metal glam phase, the band returned to its earlier virtues and a reunion of the original lineup.

Two musicians from the original band, guitarist Ace Frehley and drummer Peter Criss, are now out again. But, Gene Simmons (bass) and Paul Stanley (vocals and rhythm guitar) have found fine, sound musical replacements with Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer. They have had to take the roles of their predecessors (and even their stage gestures reflect this 1:1) but it doesn't really bother anyone. In the past year, KISS enjoyed their acclaimed Alive 35 tour and the release of "Sonic Boom" (Roadrunner,) their first studio album in ten years. And as the slogan "Sonic Boom Over Europe: From the Beginning to the Boom" promised, the song selection resulted in Austria hearing almost every episode of KISStory.

The group was not only wild onstage together but also musically explosive. The Hallenstadion became a sold-out rock and roll circus.

With their new, successful hit "Modern Day Delilah," KISS appeared, as is proper for rock and roll entertainers of their caliber, on a floating bridge over the stage with flames licking the sides. Loud, powerful, and compact, the quartet rocked old material ("Deuce," "100,000 Years," and, most strongly, "Black Diamond,") current number ("Say Yeah," and Simmons' cliche-applied "I'm an Animal") and even reminisced over the 80s ("Crazy Nights.") The atmosphere continued to boil over throughout the night.

But that's just part of the circus. Attractions like Simmons spitting blood and soaring to dizzying heights with his axe bass while "I Love it Loud" intones; Thayer firing rockets from his guitar and Stanley flying over the heads of the standing-room-only attendees while "I Was Made for Lovin' You" begged audience members to dance along. And, the beautiful "God Gave Rock N' Roll To You" was almost hymn-like as the show closed with a brilliant "Rock and Roll All Nite," anthemic in a never-ending rain of confetti and indoor fireworks. As Simmons, Singer and Thayer rose to the ceiling on hydraulics, Stanley smashed his guitar -- and this again was part of the circus. None of this needs to be questioned -- it's just pure entertainment!

Translated from German for KISSonline by Jill Cataldo