STRIPS DOWN FOR HARDCORE FANS
April 04, 2014
For a band too often dismissed as a novelty act, the Kiss: An Acoustic Evening concert at San Manuel Indian Bingo and Casino in Highland on Thursday night was a rarity appreciated by die-hard fans.

Even from the stage, singer and guitarist Paul Stanley mused repeatedly that he didn’t know if the band would ever do a show like it again.

The first time the band went acoustic was for MTV Unplugged nearly 20 years ago. In the time since, the band has brought out the acoustic instruments for the rare special events such as the annual Kiss Kruise.

Making the night even more of a novelty were the cameras following the band around for a reality show about the LA Kiss arena football team, which is owned in part by Stanley and bassist Gene Simmons. The band’s first home game at the Honda Center in Anaheim is Saturday, April 5.

Kiss, a band known for marketing everything from condoms to coffins, gave the football team a few promotional plugs in the set, and attendees received a free hat with the logo upon entrance. The Kiss Army proudly wore the hats, as well as T-shirts (Kiss and Iron Maiden are two of the only artists where it’s totally acceptable to wear their shirts to the show) and even button-down shirts with some of the band’s album covers on them.

The sold-out crowd, which skewed middle-age and older, had Kiss fanatics who displayed their love not only with patches and T-shirts, but also ink on their bodies.

The show, which included a number of deep cuts, was for them.

Perhaps the fan that illustrated the night the best was the random guy who yelled “Play ‘The Elder’,” referring to the flop of a concept album “Music from ‘The Elder.’” He got his wish when the band played “A World Without Heroes,” a song Stanley said Kiss has only played a handful of times.

Stripped of their makeup personas, Stanley, Simmons, guitarist Tommy Thayer and drummer Eric Singer were comfortable on stage, riffing on Mountain’s “Mississippi Queen” and a Led Zeppelin medley during the set (even if the latter went on just a little too long). Stanley, who like Simmons and Thayer sat on a stool, joked that his chair was loose and that nobody likes a loose stool.

But what made the show such a delight was the songs. For a band that helped change the face of rock music with stage theatrics, different, no fire-breathing, blood -spitting nor pyrotechnics were necessary to bolster Kiss’ songs in a different arrangement.

The format really suited some of the band’s catalog, at times giving almost a country feel to the classics “Hard Luck Woman” and “Cold Gin.”

The Singer-sung “Nothin’ to Lose,” the salacious “Plaster Caster” and the Simmons solo number “See You Tonite” were also particularly strong moments of the set.

In less than a week, Kiss will finally take its rightful place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which Simmons and Stanley talked about in an interview before the show, and appropriately, the band’s 1 hour and 45 minute set ended with “Rock and Roll All Nite,” which Stanley introduced as the “rock and roll national anthem.” And even acoustic, it still rocks.

Setlist:

Comin’ Home
Calling Dr. Love
Hard Luck Woman
Christine Sixteen
Hide Your Heart
Goin’ Blind
Cold Gin
Do You Love Me
Nothin’ to Lose
Love Her All I Can
A World Without Heroes
Plaster Caster
Take Me
See You Tonite (Gene Simmons song)
Rock Bottom
You Shook Me (Led Zeppelin cover)
Led Zeppelin Medley
Mississippi Queen (Mountain cover)
Got to Choose
Shout It Out Loud
Rock and Roll All Nite