August 17, 2010
Rock band brings legendary theatrical show to Jiffy Lube Live

Photo by Jay Gilbert

By: Nancy Dunham

The one thing about Paul Stanley, lead guitarist and co-founder of KISS, is that he gives some of the best quotes ever when talking about the band he and Gene Simmons started all those years ago.

Consider Stanley's take on why the "KISS Army" -- the band's millions of fans -- packs amphitheatres and snap up everything from KISS albums to belt buckles. The reason, Stanley said, is KISS knows what its fans want it to deliver.

"No offense to the Eagles, but no one wants an Eagles' belt buckle," Stanley said, echoing what he told Spin magazine a short while ago. "The truth is that band's limitations are based on what fans want from them and how interesting they are."

Staying interesting has never been a problem for KISS. When the band hit public consciousness in the early 1970s, the musicians behind the outlandish theatrical makeup and space age-style costumes were left to listeners' imaginations until 1983, when the grease paint was removed.

One of the main points that set KISS apart is the members didn't care if critics mocked them. Stanley, Simmons and the other members had their fingers on the pulse of the fan base and rode that to megastardom with the 1975 album "Alive" and the song "Rock and Roll All Nite."

"You know KISS, we operate outside the boundaries that other band's operate within," Stanley said. "While other people are telling you how to save the whales or end world hunger, we are singing about self-empowerment and about how each person can change the world. Not terribly heady stuff but something that was true 100 years ago and will be true 100 years from now. You can't beat it; you just can't."

Now that original KISS fans are bringing both their children and their grandchildren to shows -- and heck, those kids are attending even if the elders stay away -- critics may well have to concede Stanley is right. Just scan the reviews of KISS concerts in newspapers or fan boards and you'll see that this is no band that will go quietly into the night anytime soon.

"There is an electricity in the air ... before KISS hits the stage at every concert that can only be truly understood by someone who has experienced it," wrote one fan on a message board. "KISS proved once again that they are not only still ALIVE and kicking, but also THRIVING!!!"

Stanley underscored that, noting the band toured South America and Europe with crowds ranging from about 10,000 to 90,000 or more attendees.

"Given the state of the economy in the U.S., we are saying that the one thing you can bet [you'll get your money's worth on] is a KISS show," he said. "Our shows have changed only in the sense that they have gotten bigger and broader. ... They really have taken on a life of their own."