October 14, 2009
By Dave McKenna
Photo by Richard Lipski

The crowd at the Verizon Center on Tuesday proved that there's still demand for what Kiss supplies. There were old guard Kiss Army types like Jerry Frey, 47, who drove down from York, Pa., wearing a shirt that said "Kiss Farewell Tour." Frey said he bought the shirt in 2000, at one of the many Kiss shows he's seen since adolescence. "They won't quit, and I don't want them to quit," Frey said.

And new recruits, too. On the concourse before the set began, Tuomas Talvitie, 16, of Springfield, Va., posed for pictures with three buddies, all properly facepainted for their first Kiss show. Talvitie, colored up like Simmons, said he discovered Kiss a few years ago from an advertisement stuck to a drum kit his big sister bought, and got hooked. Asked to explain the appeal of a band that's been around so long -- Simmons has codpieces twice as old as Talvitie -- the teen said, "The songs aren't complicated. It's just great rock and roll."

On this night, Kiss delivered just what its fans, young or old, should expect. The current tour is called "Kiss Alive/35," which is ostensibly a commemoration of the anniversary of the release of "Kiss Alive," the band's breakthrough album. That LP, however, was really released in 1975, so expect the tour to go another year at least.

Regardless, the set was heavy with classic tunes and, at least as importantly, the same ol' stunts.

Simmons spit fire for "Hotter Than Hell," then spit blood during "I Love It Loud." Stanley sailed to the back of the arena on a trapeze-like contraption for "Love Gun." Though one gets the feeling Stanley yells pretty much the same things every night no matter the town, he did tailor his gab a tad before the early nugget "Let Me Go Rock and Roll" by reminding folks that before "Alive" broke Kiss would play the Bayou, the smallish and long-dead Georgetown rock club.

Guitarist Tommy Thayer went through a flaming guitar trick. Drummer Eric Singer took the vocals during "Black Diamond." Among the few non-classics in the two-hour set: "Modern Day Delilah," the single from Kiss' most recent release, "Sonic Boom." World War wins have been celebrated with less confetti than the amount thrown at the fans during "Rock and Roll All Nite."

The crowd ate up all that was served, and when it was over they wanted more. "They're better than ever," said Frey, his old t-shirt wet with sweat. Talvitie and his buddies, who seemed to know every word and danced in and out of the aisles all night, said they plan to start a band soon. They've already agreed that they'll start out playing all Kiss songs.