The “Hottest Show on Earth” returned to the Chicago area last weekend at the First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre in Tinley Park, with KISS reminding everyone what made them the rock gods that they are. Though the band received strong support from The Envy and The Academy Is, they didn’t need it. Despite the fact that KISS has been rocking the world for over 37 years, Paul Stanley (a.k.a. “The Lover”) and Gene Simmons (a.k.a. “The Demon”) still carried out the showmanship that made them one of the most famous acts in rock and roll history. With newer members Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer taking on the identities of “The Spaceman” and “The Cat”, this full-on rock show gave fans the chance to experience KISS as though they were still in their height of popularity – in fact this show may have been bigger.
From the opening number, “Modern Day Delilah” off their latest release Sonic Boom, when Simmons, Stanley and Thayer were airlifted over the towering drum set and placed at the front of the stage, it seemed as though the band incorporated something in each song that made the crowd think, “Holy Shit”. Whether a flurry of explosions, giant bursts of fire, or segments of the stage rising to propel a band member, nearly each song was a spectacle in its own unusual way. But not to be overshadowed by the incredible stage effects, was, of course, the music. In a set that lasted two hours and ten minutes, KISS included such songs as “Detroit Rock City”, “Love Gun”, “Calling Dr. Love”, “Firehouse”, “Black Diamond” and “Say Yeah”, also from their latest album.
KISS pulled out all the stops. Tommy Thayer shot fireworks from his guitar ala Ace Frehley and Gene Simmons breathed fire. Not long after, blood oozed from Simmons’ mouth during a haunting bass piece just before he was carried over 50 feet high, above the stage lights, to perform “I Love it Loud”.
The band went on with a six-song encore that kicked off with Eric Singer taking on former drummer Peter Criss’ ballad, “Beth”. While Singer stood center stage to sing, the other three members huddled to his right, quietly jamming in the background. KISS followed up with a couple more big hits before “I Was Made for Loving You” in which Paul Stanley glided across the audience on a cable and landed on a small platform with a microphone in order to perform to the people toward the rear of the arena. When Stanley returned to the stage, the band broke into “God Gave Rock ‘n’ Roll to You” as images from vintage KISS were displayed onto the jumbo projection screens. Finally, white confetti shot out from the stage, transforming the arena into a mega snow globe for the duration of the show, as the band jammed out to “Rock and Roll All Night” amidst thunderous explosions and high-flying stage theatrics – including an ascending drum riser.
KISS’ live show is not just a concert; it’s an experience – an experience that should be had by all rock and roll fans. Should KISS return anytime soon, make a point to catch this amazing show.