09/01/2016

Paul Stanley: KISS coming for 'victory lap' at Allentown Fair

 / The Morning Call

Rock band KISS has never been about subtlety.

From its outlandish costumes and makeup to its over-the-top, fire-roasted stage shows and slogans such as "the biggest band in the world" and "you wanted the best you got the best," KISS has made its mark by being big and bold.

So when KISS brings its "Freedom to Rock" tour to the Allentown Fair on Thursday, the show won't be burdened with deep cuts. And even though it's the 40th anniversary of both of KISS' biggest studio discs "Destroyer" and "Rock and Roll Over" KISS won't be doing an album show like many other classic rockers. Instead, the concert will be a show full of hits.

"The cream has always risen to the top, and the people expect certain songs and they'll get those," guitarist/singer and founder Paul Stanley says in a phone call from his California home. Recent shows have included them all: "Shout It Out Loud," "Beth," "Love Gun," "Detroit Rock City" and, of course, "Rock and Roll All Nite."

"The idea of playing obscure songs is only appealing to a die-hard fan who knows our albums inside out," Stanley says. "To go up on stage and play unknown songs for a handful of people as opposed to playing the songs that everybody wants to hear is really not in our best interests or the audience's.

"We want to do the best show possible and we want to blow away people who get to see us once every two years, five years, 10 years. Those are the people who we put the show together for. If somebody comes night after night or sees 10 or 15 shows on a tour, well, they may be asking why we don't change the show up much. But the fact is we don't change it up that much because once it's great, you don't mess with it."

Wanting to reach people who see KISS infrequently is why KISS is coming to Allentown and other "secondary markets" on the current tour, Stanley says. The 35-show jaunt, which started in July, has KISS playing more than 25 cities it hasn't visited in more than 10 years, and four first-time stops.

"One of the great things about this tour is going back to places that somehow, for one reason or another, have been off the touring grid," he says. "And it's a thrill. I mean, I have to say it's great to play these great big metropolises, but truth be told, we made our name by playing the smaller cities.

"And this only reaffirms for us why we should be doing this is to go full circle and go back to where it all started."

The Lehigh Valley certainly qualifies as one of the places it all started for KISS.

In 1975, the band, which was born in New York City, played two shows on the same day at Northampton's Roxy Theatre, on the very day it released its third disc, "Dressed to Kill," which included "Rock and Roll All Nite."

Eight months later, KISS played Allentown Fairground's Agricultural Hall, days after releasing what would become its first gold disc, "Alive." In 1984, it kicked off its North American tour for its "Animalize" album at Bethlehem's Stabler Arena, after rehearsing the tour there. It was the first area show for the band without its signature makeup.

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