KISS lights up Grand Rapids: 'We are a rock and roll band'

By John Agar www.mlive.com

After a 13-year absence, KISS lit up the stage at Van Andel Arena on Saturday, Aug. 13, with pyrotechnics, lasers and a fire-breathing Gene Simmons, along with a catalog of hits that dated back to the 1970s.

The concert drew old-timers in KISS gear, costumed kids and others, most of whom stayed standing during the one-hour, 40-minute show.

KISS, inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2014, played crowd favorites, including "Detroit Rock City," "Shout it out Loud," "God of Thunder," with Simmons' trademark blood-letting before he was raised to the ceiling by cables, "Cold Gin," "Love Gun," and "Rock and Roll All Night."

Lead singer Paul Stanley said there would be no lip-syncing or hidden singers at a KISS concert.

"We are a rock and roll band," he said, to cheers.

KISS last played Grand Rapids in 2003. Their first concert here was in 1974.

On Saturday, they brought fireworks, flames, spark-spewing guitars, lasers and rising stages - with confetti covering the crowd at close.

The concert was part of the band's "Freedom to Rock" tour, honoring the military. Area veterans came up on stage before Stanley led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance.

KISS presented a $150,000 check to "Hiring our Heroes," a program to help military families find work.

Jon O'Connor, a Grand Rapids city commissioner, gave KISS a ceremonial key to the city.

Lead guitarist Tommy Thayer then played the National Anthem on electric guitar.

The band Dead Daisies opened for KISS.

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