Archived Concert Review
Kiss Alive Worldwide Tour
December 28, 1996
I remember 1996 very well. The depressing grunge scene (although my older self can appreciate some of the artistry) was winding down. While a return to my beloved 1980’s would never completely come back, the overall musical direction was at least heading toward something resembling a little fun again. And then the unbelievable happened. Kiss, the band that singlehandedly led me to become a hard rock and heavy metal fanboy, was reuniting with its original members, complete with its trademark make-up!
The idea of seeing Kiss in the way seventies rock fans were able, was nothing short of a miracle. I recalled all the stories regarding their legendary, and almost mythical characters. The bombastic stage shows, the blood spitting, the breathing of fire. I remembered the inside of my Alive II album, first seen as a seven-year-old. I had to score tickets. There was no way I could miss this show.
The Centrum was packed that night. I managed to get tickets in the upper level, stage right. Way to the right. As in the side of the stage, looking down on raised platform. Getting into my spot after the opening set of regional band, The 4th Floor (which had to be an amazing experience for them), I had to wait, almost painfully, for my heroes to emerge, knowing our section would get a glimpse long before most in the arena. A large black curtain with the band logo dropped from the ceiling at a strategic point in The Who classic, Won’t Get Fooled Again, which was playing over the P.A. The crowd was getting restless.
Finally, the lights went down. A loud humming noise filled our ears. Spotlights rotated around the stage. The roar of the audience was deafening. Then they came out! Again, our section at side stage could see them first, in all their costumed glory. They took their places, vocalist/guitarist Paul Stanley bucking like a raging bull about to be released into the ring. The announcer shouted those words all to familiar to us longtime Kiss fans from the glory days. “All right, Worcester! You wanted the best; you got the best! The hottest band in the world……. Kiss!”
The curtain dropped and the band launched into, Duece, the first song that lead guitarist Ace Frehley played when he auditioned for the group more than 20 years prior. A gigantic pyrotechnic blast accompanied the song, and the band was off to the races! This tour was featuring mostly seventies classics recorded by the original members; therefore, it was not a surprise, but still amazing to witness, Kiss segueing into C’mon and Love Me, Let Me Go Rock ‘n’ Roll, and Firehouse in rapid succession.
The conclusion of Firehouse brought about Gene Simmons’ fire breathing stunt, much cooler in person than inside a wrinkled Circus magazine. I couldn’t believe what I was watching! A couple of songs later, the Frehley-sung, Shock Me, culminated with his blistering solo, complete with his smoking guitar being raised to the rafters. Calling Dr. Love, Shout it Out Loud, I Stole Your Love, and Cold Gin highlighted the midsection of the show, with an overabundance of lights, lasers, and fire to accompany them.
Paul Stanley, never one to shy away from lauding his own band and absorbing all the accolades he can muster, hadn’t yet tired fans with his sometimes meandering between-song raps, never straying far from the arena rock cliches that mostly worked to supplement Kiss’ many over-the top-gimmicks. This included the trademark blood spitting trick that Simmons perfected back in the day, complemented by the Dragon being raised to the top of a lighting truss to sing, God of Thunder. Drummer Peter Criss, not wanting to be left out of the spotlight, performed a steady, if unspectacular solo mid-song, displaying just enough chops to satisfy us drummers in the crowd.
100,000 Years and Detroit Rock City closed out the main set, each with enough pyro blasts to surely make the local fire warden a little nervous, before returning with classics, Black Diamond, Beth, and the fiery Rock and Roll All Nite. The night was complete. There was no more that could be done. Paul Stanley had asked the audience, “Was it all that you expected?” I had to agree with the overwhelming consensus. Yes!
Kiss Set List:
C’mon and Love Me
Let Me Go, Rock ‘n’ Roll
Do You Love Me
Firehouse (Gene breathes fire)
Ace Frehley Guitar Solo
Calling Dr. Love
Shout It Out Loud
I Stole Your Love
King of the Night Time World
New York Groove (Russ Ballard Cover)
Gene Simmons Bass Solo (spits blood)
God of Thunder (Peter Criss Drum Solo)
Detroit Rock City
Rock and Roll All Nite