KISS, the hardest working band in the world, hit the stage Wednesday, October 28th, 2009, at the Sommet Center, (the big arena) in Nashville, TN with opening act, Buckcherry, as they continued on their KISS Alive 35 tour across the world. I first saw KISS as they toured for their first album and have seen them in concert about twelve times.
Buckcherry slowly warmed the crowd as most patrons waited to arrive after their set. Usually their set is full of profanity, but they kept it fairly tame until their last song of the night.
At 8:50pm the house music began to excite the crowd as Led Zeppelin’s “Rock and Roll” blasted over the sound system. By the time the song was over, the Sommet Center’s house lights went dim as the crowd erupted into a loud roar with the anticipation of seeing one of the greatest live rock and roll acts ever. In the dark arena the famous lines from their Live Albums came on with, “All right Nashville! You wanted the best and you got the best, the hottest band in the world, KISS!” As soon as the name of the band from the introduction was announced, we heard the guitar riff from one of their most famous songs, and their signature concert intro, “Deuce” and as soon as the famous guitar riff was over, the huge KISS curtain that had covered the entire stage area fell as the band rocked out on a fog covered stage while fire was shooting up from the back of the stage and bombs were exploding on nearly every major beat. Gene Simmons stepped up to the mic to instruct us with his first line of the song, “Get up and get your Grandma out of here!” With the KISS tour celebrating 35 years, I know there were some Grandmas and Grandpas in the crowd.
KISS went straight into the second song of the night without hesitation as drummer Eric Singer performed the intro beat to another song from their first album, “Strutter.” During the song, Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, and Tommy Thayer posed for the media taking pictures as they were allowed to shoot the first two songs of the night from the photo pit. It was now time for the front man/guitarist Paul Stanley to step up to the mic to start the fun with the crowd. Paul began to address the crowd about how good it is to be in the south because of the southern hospitality. Paul then walked to the front and center of the stage and with out saying a word motioned a dividing line down the middle of the crowd. He challenged each half of the crowd in a competition to scream louder than the other. Then he brought them all together for a very loud response. Paul continued to introduce the next song, “Let Me Go, Rock and Roll.” The band seemed to struggle through the song, but made up for it as they continued with, “Hotter Than Hell,” while Gene Simmons finished the song with signature fire spitting antics. Paul then introduced lead guitarist Tommy Thayer to sing the song, which Ace Frehley made famous, “Shock Me.”
It was time for some new songs, or as Paul Stanley put it, some new classic songs, as the band played the only two songs from their new CD, Sonic Boom, “Modern Day Delilah” and “Say Yeah,” and that’s just what the crowd of about 15,000 did with the instruction from Paul Stanley. As soon as the song was over, the band started into a KISS classic hit, “Calling Dr. Love,” which the crowd came alive with approval.
KISS decided to get into some real old stuff, as Paul Stanley put it, and they flowed through the songs, “She,” with Tommy Thayer performing his guitar solo and had planned to have flames shoot out from his guitar, but the special effects didn’t work. “Parasite,” which Paul introduced as a heavier, faster, harder song, and “100,000 Years” where Eric Singer performed his drum solo as the drum riser raised and spun around.
The time approached for Gene Simmons to make his famous appearance with his axe bass, he strutted back and forth making noises with his bass and then began to spit up fake blood right before the wires he was connected to lifted him up above the lighting rig onto a platform to sing lead in the KISS hit, “I Love It Loud,” and the crowd did love it loud. As Gene was being lowered back down to the main stage, Paul Stanley slowly picked the intro riff of the next song and combined it into the riff of the Led Zeppelin classic, “Stairway To Heaven,” as the crowd approved with cheers. Paul stepped up to the mic and said it was time for Music City to sing as he led the crowd through singing the intro of “Black Diamond” before the band kicked the song into high gear with drummer Eric Singer on lead vocals. To introduce the next song, Paul Stanley explained that we live in a world that is in bad shape and got a little political as he told the crowd that there are people who are in office that shouldn’t be. Paul then said that there are people who tried to get him to be more political on stage. He said he performs on stage to forget about our troubles for a little while, not to talk about them. Then he added that if we came to see a band that talks about how to stop the recession, the war, and world hunger, then we are in the wrong place and when those people try to get him to talk about it, he said he advises them to try to “Rock and Roll All Night and Party Every Day!” And that’s just what they did as the confetti machines exploded all over the packed arena. By the end of the song, Gene Simmons stood on stage right, Tommy Thayer on stage left, and Paul Stanley in the middle of the stage, as the platforms they stood on rose. Gene’s and Tommy’s rose nearly as high as the lighting rigs while Paul’s went about 10 feet in the air, with Paul destroying his guitar during the closing of the song.
They waved and left the stage for a couple of minutes. When they returned, the band members went to the edge of the front and center stage, hand in hand, bowing and showing appreciation for the fans in attendance. The guys picked up their instruments as Paul Stanley told the crowd they do not plan to go back and forth with several encores, but they plan on making this the longest encore we’ve ever seen. Paul didn’t realize that some of us in the crowd have seen Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band perform an hour-long encore several times. However, this was the longest KISS encore I’ve ever seen with four songs in 35 minutes. Paul Stanley asked the crowd if they liked it loud and after the loud screams, Paul said they like it loud too, as the band drove into the next KISS hit song, “Shout It Out Loud.” Without stopping to talk to the audience, Paul Stanley sang the lyrics, “Don’t wanna wait til’ I know you better,” as they pleased the crowd with the song, “Lick It Up.” Close to the end of the song, the band broke into a portion of the ending of the Who’s classic, “Won’t Get Fooled Again” before going back to their song for a nice closure. Paul then said he wanted to go out into the crowd, which the crowd exploded into approval by yelling his name. Paul walked to the side of the stage, stepped on a foot-hold connected to a cable and flew across the audience to the back section of the arena onto a round slow turning platform containing a mic and stand to sing the next song of the night, “Love Gun.” Paul flew back in time to end the song from the main stage. As Paul Stanley introduced the last song of the night, he suggested we put on our seat belt because we are heading to “Detroit Rock City!” By the time the song was over, there were bombs exploding, shooting sparklers from the drum riser and flames shooting up from the back of the stage. The band said nothing and left the stage in the dark keeping the audience thinking and hoping they would return for more. Unfortunately the show was over as a graphic displayed across the huge screen in the back of the stage with the words, “KISS Loves Nashville,” as the house lights came back on.
This was a typical KISS concert which they’ve put on since the seventies. Many people brought their children out to the concert and many had their faces painted and wore costumes in celebration of the event. On a Concert Blast Scale, Tom Thompson gave it a 9.5, Brian Hasbrook and James Downing gave it a 9.0, and I (Mike Arnold) gave it an 8.8. The only reason we scored it lower than a 9.8 was because of the songs that were drug out and the selection of the set list. Playing songs like, “Parasite”, “100,000 Years,” “She,” and “Shock Me” should have been substituted with songs such as, “Firehouse”, “King of the Night Time World,” “I Want You,” “Do You Love Me,” “God of Thunder,” “Cold Gin,” “Rock Bottom,” and “God Gave Rock and Roll To You.” These songs are the ones the people sitting around us also wanted to hear. I must thank the band for not playing the song. “Beth.” Overall it was a good KISS concert with excellent vocals, stage presence, and sound mix, with the exception of the opening guitar intro to “Duece” not being loud enough and the song, “Let Me Go Rock and Roll” sounded a bit loose, but we do highly recommend any rock music fan to be a part of this concert. You won’t regret it!
Written By Mike Arnold
Tags: Brian Hasbrook, buckcherry, eric singer, gene simmons, James Downing, kiss alive 35, KISS concert review, kiss concert review 2009, kiss concert review nashville, kiss setlist 2009, Mike Arnold, Nashville, nashville arena, paul stanley, sommet center, TN, Tom Thompson, tommy thayer