March 21, 2011
After what seemed like a 50-year wait, an older—and newer—generation collectively rejoiced as the morning of Saturday, March 12th dawned on this Caribbean island. What could bring such joy to the masses, you ask? Legendary rock band KISS would finally put on their much-anticipated concert in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The band — which has not been in Puerto Rico since 1998 — promised their fans the “hottest show on earth” in a tour of the same title.

The José Miguel Agrelot Coliseum filled up rapidly with hundreds of people arriving by the minute. There were many families from every generation with their faces painted like their favorite band member, as befits a show where Gene Simmons spits blood and breathes fire.

The crowd stared anxiously at a black curtain with the letters “KISS” in silver across the middle when, at 9:15, the lights went down and a clear voice addressed the crowd: “San Juan, you wanted the best? You got the best! The hottest band in the world … KISS!” The curtain rose and we were met with “Modern Day Delilah” — the band’s latest single — and a stage that put other bands’ presentations to shame with colorful lights and the pyrotechnic effects from the very beginning. The band immediately took control of their crowd, with Paul Stanley telling the “KISS Army” — a name they created for their fans — “Our heart is yours, San Juan! We’re from New York, as you know, and there is a big population of Puerto Ricans over there, so this is like being home for us.”

Playing their classics such as “Cold Gin,” “Calling Dr. Love,” “Crazy Crazy Nights” and “Deuce,” the army was in their hands and there was no going back. As expected, Gene Simmons spit fire during “Firehouse” and made blood pour from his mouth during a short interlude before “I Love It Loud,” telling the crowd, “Hell yeah, mucho gusto, San Juan,” which sent the crowd into a manic frenzy. Stanley also delivered multiple times, turning his back to crowd and setting his guitar on the floor, and kneeling and playing for minutes in this position — something many guitarists would not dream of attempting.

Drummer Eric Singer and Guitarist Tommy Thayer though not original members of the band had their time to shine when they performed riveting solos that made believers of everyone in the power and talent of these newer members. As the band concluded with “Detroit Rock City” they bid goodnight to the crowd and promptly left the stage. The lights dimmed but the band returned after two minutes, saying that Eric Singer wanted to sing something for their fans and then broke into a short acoustic version of “Beth”.

The band concluded their encore with “Lick It Up” and “Rock ‘N Roll All Night”, sparing no effects. Fire shot from the top of the stage, explosions went off, confetti filled the arena and the stage itself divided and sent both Simmons and Thayer flying high as they played. Stanley bid a final farewell to the crowd after breaking one of their guitars, and dropping his microphone as the rest of the band said goodbye as they left the stage.
Make no mistake; attending “The Hottest Show on Earth” could make a skeptical or casual fan want to be part of the Kiss Army. After more than 30 years in the business, KISS proved that they still hold the title of the best band on earth and that “hottest” fails to describe the show they give the awaiting crowd.