09/02/2016

REVIEW: KISS at Allentown Fair makes up for lost time with fun, fiery show

By / The Morning Call

“How are you doing, Allentown?” KISS singer Paul Stanley asked the crowd Thursday at Allentown Fair’s grandstand, two songs into the band’s’ first concert in the city in 26 years, first in the Lehigh Valley in 24 years and first in makeup in more than 40 years.

“We’ve got some catching up to do.”

That might have been standard stage patter, but KISS’s 17-song show certainly made it seem like the band was making up for lost time.

Its 97 minutes was filled with blood spitting, fire breathing, members flying, drum sets levitating, smoke, sparks, explosions and the biggest confetti shower the Lehigh Valley has likely seen.

And, oh, yeah, music. And surprisingly good music, that gave the crowd of 7,082 most of the hits they would expect, but also a some surprisingly good choices of lesser-known songs.

But what made the show most successful was that KISS, now more than 40 years into its career, seemed enthusiastic about performing all of that.

From the opening “Detroit Rock City,” Stanley, at 64, was moving about the stage, even dropping to his knees to play. Bassist/singer Gene Simmons, at 68, was lasciviously swirling his hips – and famous tongue. And guitarist Tommy Thayer and drummer Eric Singer were playing strong and solid, which is their role.

“There are no singers singing off stage. There’s no band playing off stage. There’s no pre-recorded music and no lip-synching,” Stanley told the crowd a couple of songs later. “And there’s no dancers humping each other on stage. We are a rock ‘n’ roll band, and that’s what you deserve.”

A nice surprise was how good a couple of the deeper songs the band played sounded. “Do You Love Me,” a cut from the 1976 disc “Destroyer” (along with “Rock and Roll Over” celebrating its 40th anniversary this year) was very good.

“Cold Gin” from the group’s 1974 debut album was well played and sung by Simmons, though he also got theatrical by licking Thayer’s face on it. And “I Love It Loud”  from 1982’s “Creatures of the Night” also was very good, and Stanley had an elementary school girl on stage with him helping him play guitar.

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