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Jul312011

KISS - Turning Stone Casino Event Center, Verona, NY- July 28, 2011

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

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Reader Comments (6)

Well, I am not sure how several sections of empty seats (the ones all the way in the back and on the sides) and large clumps of empty seats in many of the other upper sections is a "sell out"... but also, having seen many Kiss shows since 1989, I thought they seemed off and ready for the tour to be over and done with.
Last summer at Darien Lake was far superior to this show and performance.
I too noticed the set seemed a little short... I also notices that the official Kiss website has no reference to this show in any way, where as the rest of the tour has pictures of the pre-shows, and of the band taking their bow in front of the crowd... but not so much as a blurb on Verona (other than the tour dates). At Darien Lake (and other tours), I paid less, and at least got an opener or two... this just felt like I was short changed across the board.
Lastly, taking this show on its own, with out comparing it to other stops or other "40" year touring shows I have seen (like a 3+ hour Rush show), it was fine... the pyros were a but much for the size of the room... they are a huge part of the Kiss show, but this room did not seem like it could take it and they were too overpowering. The performance was strong, the music right on (the Beth thing was fun), the crowd in love... the fan interaction was good and pick were thrown a plenty.... and what should a band call a venue squeezed between two other cities and not near a major metropolitan area... just the name of the city LOL

August 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGMM

Well, GMM we will have to agree to disagree, as I have the CD and DVD of the Darien Lake show and was front row for that show was well. I don't feel the band was nearly as tight and Paul's vocal issues seemed to be troubling him all night (not so at Verona).

As far as seating goes, just because you see empty seats does not mean it was not a "sellout." A sellout constitutes every ticket on sale being sold and from I was told, they were. Especially at casinos, they hold back a large number of comps and at times, not all of the comps are used. Also, there were no tickets sold in the first section on either side of the stage, as the venue was told the stage would be extended, so they did not sell tickets for those sections. Since the stage was not extended, people simply moved closer to the stage, hence leaving their original seats open.

My Verona review is up on KOL, no bow shot, but the show was acknowledged nonetheless.

August 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Jeffrey

I too have CDs of every show I have been to (heck, you may even have the CD I did from Darien) and I will have to re-listen to Darien and see if my memory is wrong on that one. I dont recall the vocal issues, but its been a year.

The sections that I saw unsold were 106 and 111, the furthest from the stage... and being that I was looking to upgrade my ticket (yes, just a single) the morning of the show, there were single tickets all over the venue and pairs in the 105 and 112 in the 3rd or 4th rows... just what I saw on TicketMastet as I have nothing else to base my information on (IE no press release or venue contacts).

And, if Kiss had such a great time, why have they ignored us on their news feed? That I feel is the biggest slap in the face.

Healthy mature conversations like this are good!

August 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGMM

Again, like I said, venues, especially casinos, hold back tons of comp tickets (specifically for high rollers and the like) and they release a lot of unused tickets the day of the show. My information comes from the venue, in that while the venue holds actually closer to 5,000, only 4,000 seats were put on sale for that show and the night before the show, there was less than 900 seats available. According to the Turning Stone rep, the walkups that night sold the remaining tickets, resulting in a sellout.

As far as 'news feeds,' KISS doesn't personally handle any of that business, so if 'they' didn't reply to something, you can't hold the band (members) personally responsible. Right?

August 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Jeffrey

I am aware of the hold backs and all that, the one in Nia Falls is really bad at that concept... and the Kiss site did finally post this article, but not a link (which I dont understand why a reciprocal link was not given, but the pix show the site name).

August 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGMM

They did post the name of the website under the story line as well, but there was no hyperlink. It's all good though.

August 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Jeffrey

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