Music Review: KISS at the Richmond Coliseum

BY HAYS DAVIS / Richmond Times Dispatch

Photo by Keith Leroux

With an enthusiastic crowd sprinkled with impressive displays of KISS makeup and platform boots to honor their heroes, this was hardly an audience of naysayers. Plenty of of parents arrived with children - potential new KISS Army recruits. “KISS – the next generation!” Stanley declared when a young girl in KISS makeup joined him onstage to assist on guitar.

Launching with a killer opening punch of “Detroit Rock City” and “Deuce,” the band appeared amid towers of flame and sparks. It had been many years since KISS last lit up the Coliseum, and longtime fans were treated with a set that was heavy on beloved early material. Half of the 1976 “Destroyer” album was performed, along with several from their pre-breakthrough releases, with “Cold Gin” and “Black Diamond” still sounding as powerful as they did on 1975’s “Alive.”

“How about something from 1983? Some of you weren’t even born in 1983!” Stanley said before “Lick It Up.” One of several strong post-’70s tunes, the song morphed gradually into a bit of The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again” under a spray of laser lights. Later in the set, there were roars of approval as the large stage screens gave bassist Gene Simmons some fire-breathing, blood-spitting close-ups.

As with other stops on their U.S. tour, KISS had hired military personnel to serve locally as roadies, and they were invited onstage for acknowledgment.

“I want you to remember something,” Stanley said. “Patriotism is always cool.”

Richmond mayor Dwight Jones then appeared and presented KISS with a key to the city for their philanthropic efforts, during which Simmons sneaked up and kissed the cheek of a female military staff member.

After an instrumental “Star Spangled Banner,” KISS brought the house down properly with “Rock and Roll All Nite.” Stanley and Simmons, at 64 and 67 years old,  sang as strong as ever throughout the night. And with drummer Eric Singer, 58, and lead guitarist Tommy Thayer, 55, now being seasoned vets, KISS is still quite a live force, four decades from the release of their debut album. With their ever-present makeup, they were still KISS after all these years.

With members previously involved with later incarnations of notable acts including Motley Crue, Whitesnake, and Thin Lizzy, opener The Dead Daisies set the tone just right for the headliner. A cover of “Fortunate Son” was a crowd pleaser, with a nod offered to the military from singer John Corabi.

But their originals were all arena-size, even minus columns of fire.

Contact Hays Davis at haysdavis101@gmail.com.

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