Review: KISS In Irvine

Excerpted from a review by Alex Distefano

The day after 4th of July, nearly 20,000 screaming rock-n-roll fans filled the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre In Irvine, to witness two stellar performances by two defining rock bands: Def Leppard and KISS.

At 9:45, every section of the venue was packed, from the lawns to the lower pit. KISS took the stage, with roars of applause which, for the most part, lasted for the entire KISS concert.

A huge platform in the shape of a spider was in the middle of the stage as KISS blasted into an hour long set of classic songs, with nothing newer than 1998. Fan favorites included "Duce," "Hotter Than Hell," "Christine Sixteen," "Black Diamond," and "Cold Gin."

Frontman Paul Stanley, who originally founded KISS in 1973 with Simmons in New York City, took time to thank the crowd more than once, and was constantly smiling throughout the entire evening. "I thank God every day before we get on stage that I can be up here with all of you people!" he yelled at the crowd. "But what I really want to do, is join you all up there," he said, pointing to the upper Lodge area of the stadium midway through the show. For the songs "Love Gun" and "Black Diamond," Stanley and his guitar flew with the help of a guided elevated rope, to a tiny stage set up in the upper level, and played in front of the Lodge and Lawn section rabid fans, as giant screens shot the action close up, and Gene Simmons, Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer held it down below on the stage.

One of the most magical elements of KISS live is the blood gurgling, monstrous bass solo, put on by bass master Gene Simmons. After four decades, Simmons still retains the magic and gives off a presence that is unmatched. He is truly a legendary figure among Rock and Heavy Metal music, and his performance alone set the tone and influenced so many shock rock, punk and black metal bands to come. Simmons was put on ropes and elevated to the top of the giant spider platform for his bass solo and stood around 50 feet high, with giant screens detailing his infamous creepy long, reptilian like tongue and spitting up of blood, after which he too was lowered down by ropes to the stage.

KISS played for just over hour, but fans were satisfied, because the band was on fire musically, each member exuded a real passion for what they were doing, and the crowd response was amazing, for each song. Drummer Eric Singer threw it down hard and kept in tune with everyone providing a zap of energy that most drummers can't lock in. Guitarist Tommy Thayer also blasted the audience with 100 percent effort and precision, truly bringing a unique detail and energy to the band that fit in perfectly with the thunderous gigantor bassist Simmons, who is larger than life, in all aspects. In short, KISS might be older, and the band might not consist of the classic original four line up, but they still F*****G ROCK!

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