KISS gets patriotic, loud, fiery and ‘Psycho Circus’ theatrical in Grand Rapids tour stop
Photos by Andris Visockis
They’ve been doing it for more than 40 years, so the makeup-clad guys in platform heels didn’t unleash anything surprising at Van Andel Arena — just good old-fashioned, goofy, glammy, shock-rocking, pyrotechnic- and flame-enhanced fun.
From the moment their makeup-clad heroes took the stage Saturday night at Grand Rapids’ Van Andel Arena, members of the diehard KISS Army got pretty much everything they craved from this fabled, hard-rocking bunch in platform boots.
Lights flashed, fire raged all across the stage, and the four iconic members of KISS descended from raised platforms down onto the stage to greet the crowd. The group dove straight into their beloved hit, “Detroit Rock City,” and rabid fans were up on their feet, screaming.
Most stayed that way all night.
Playing familiar titles from albums new and old all across their career, the legendary rock ‘n’ roll group — bass player Gene Simmons, guitarists Paul Stanley and Tommy Thayer, and drummer Eric Singer — uncorked an over-the-top night full of trademark theatrics to wow the crowd, backing it up with blazing guitar solos, thundering work from the drum kit, and the confidence of seasoned entertainers.
Along the way, a couple of band members took to the air in a crowd-pleasing set of stunts. Simmons was hoisted up in mid-air to a platform at the top of the arena above the stage and rocked on from there. Later, Stanley jumped onto a thin metal support, and by wires above, was carried back above the crowd to a spinning platform over the sound table in the middle of the arena, where he continued to lead his song.
KISS — making its fifth appearance at Van Andel Arena — also took time to acknowledge members of the U.S. military on Saturday.
During the encore, which began with a rendition of “Beth,” the group welcomed onstage Grand Rapids City Commissioner Jon O’Connor, as well as local veterans and a local military color guard. Members of KISS presented representatives from Hiring Our Heroes — a national program dedicated to helping military families find employment — with a check for $150,000, and O’Connor returned the favor by presenting the band with a key to the city of Grand Rapids.
Near the end of the encore, in keeping with the patriotic theme, the band even churned out a Jimi Hendrix-esque instrumental of The Star-Spangled Banner and closed things out with the fan favorite, “Rock and Roll All Nite,” as confetti rained down on the raucous crowd of thousands.
That crowd seemed to love every minute of the nearly two-hour show, from young to old. Even families of the KISS Army got into the fun, with both parents and children cheering the band donned in matching black wigs and painted faces.
So while opener The Dead Daisies uncorked a solid rock set, it’s impossible to not be overshadowed by the spectacle that is KISS.