Review/photos by John Jeffrey
What does a band, that has been touring for the better part of 40 years, who has recently finished a 2 year World tour, which is now taking a break from recording it's 20th studio album, do next? A summer tour, of course. KISS, the "Hottest Band in the Land," just wrapped up their 18 date "Lost Cities Tour," which spanned across the months of June and July, wrapping up on 7/28 in Verona, NY. Attending this show was quite a treat, as KISS performed inside of the Turning Stone Casino Event Center. The Event Center holds about 4,000, which made this concert one of the smallest venues KISS has performed in (aside from a 'one off' club gig or their 1995 Unplugged/Convention tour) since the beginning of their career. Size didn't matter, as the great acoustics of the room emphasized KISS' bombastic sound, and the sold out crowd roared like there was 40,000 people in attendance. Ever since seeing the footage of the open air Rio concert from 1983, I've always felt that the band's sound suffers slightly outdoors, so it was nice to hear their electric magic in such an intimate arena.
The show itself was a stripped down version of the 2010 "Hottest Show on Earth" tour, as the stage was a combination of the "Alive 35" and "Sonic Boom" sets. There were 2 walls of amplifiers, covered by video screens, on either side of Eric Singer's awesome drum kit, and instead of the lighted KISS logo being mounted to the front of the drum riser again, it was perched high above, behind Eric. This time, there were video screens on the front of Eric's riser, looking connected to the screens placed in front of the amps. And as opposed to having one large video screen as their backdrop, there were 2 smaller video screens placed on the left and right of the KISS logo.
The setlist was also scaled back a bit, as they shortened their usual 20+ song set down to 16 tunes. It didn't matter though, as the general concert goers got close to 2 hours of the band's greatest hits and the diehards, impatiently waiting for an overhaul in the group's live repertoire, got to enjoy the return of "Do You Love Me" and "God of Thunder" to the set. While there was no flying stunts by either Gene Simmons or Paul Stanley, they did keep the dueling guitar/drum solos by Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer.
KISS performed like a well oiled machine, but their attitude was like a 'cool dude in a loose mood' (obscure KISS reference quota filled). They seemed to be enjoying themselves on the last night of the tour, as Paul Stanley thanked the road crew for a fine job they did on this run, as he quickly quipped, "There will be no bonuses!" The running joke of the night seemed to be what they wanted to call the area in which they were playing. Throughout the show, they addressed the crowd at different times as Verona, as Syracuse and even Rome. Not being able to settle on which was more appropriate, by the end of the night, Paul was addressing the crowd by all three city's names.
While some fans have voiced their concern over Paul Stanley's recent vocal ailments, it seems as though he has worked through whatever was plaguing him in the past for the most part, as his tone was top notch and sounded the best that I've heard him sing in a number of years. The whole band put on a great performance, as the only noticeable glitch was during "Beth," when they started the song, Gene's bass was barely audible, and when they turned up his volume, they turned it up way too loud, which threw Gene off, causing him to hit a couple of bum notes. Considering the band and the show is so well rehearsed, it actually makes it a little more entertaining when you hear a flub played here or there, as it reminds you that KISS is a REAL rock and roll band, not playing along to tapes, clicks, loops or whatever a lot of these other bands do today - during their 'live' shows.
KISS' "Lost Cities" tour will be their last tour of 2011 (aside from the October "KISS Kruise"), as the band will continue working in the studio on their follow up CD, to 2009's "Sonic Boom." It will be interesting to see how the new CD will influence next year's tour, as time and time again, KISS ups the ante, in an attempt to outdo themselves. If last Thursday's show in Verona was any indication of how much KISS has left in the tank, they will continue to be around for many years, showing the world "how the big boys do it."
Special Thanks to: Jerry Reed, Yvonne Borrotto, Brittany Sykes, Doc McGhee & Eric Singer