Irving Texas wanted the best and Toyota Music Factory sure as hell got the best, The hottest band in the world..KISS!! The living legends were back at it again for the loyal fans of the “KISS ARMY” on Wednesday night at the new Toyota Music Factory. They played to a nearly sold-out, rabid audience who loved taking a trip down memory lane. With no opening act on this tour, we were to be treated a good dose of vintage rock-n-roll. With a career spanning over forty-five years – with no new albums since 2012 – they would have plenty of material to choose.
Opening as they usually do with “Deuce” from their debut self-titled album Kiss, the guys were cranking it hard from the first note. With the audience going wild out in front of them, Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley were all over the stage as Tommy Thayer ripped into a pretty cool guitar solo to get things rolling. What followed was a pretty deep retrospective of their early years with only one song from the 90’s being played. My hope is that there was at least one super-fan that had never got to see them live, knew every lyric to every song and had finally made it to see KISS live = because that guy would have been in heaven.
“Shout It Out Loud” was highlighted by Paul singing with plenty of explosions, while “Lick It Up” gave us fire, fire and more fire, Paul and Tommy’s dueling guitars along with a little snippet of The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again” thrown in near the end. With Gene growling out lyrics while Paul was playing guitar with a little girl standing in front of him and Eric Singer banging double time on his drum kit = “I Love It Loud” from 1982’s Creatures of the Night was one of the more solid songs of the set. Gene “breathing” fire at the end of the obscure “Firehouse” was sandwiched in between two hits from 1977’s Love Gun: the title track that Paul started acapella and “Shock Me” that Tommy sang while ripping off another very good solo in.
Another ‘deep cut’ followed with the playing of “Flaming Youth” in between a fine guitar solo by Tommy and a ferocious bass solo by Gene. Gene was spitting blood as he played and “flew” (attached to wires) up to his own little personal stage some twenty-five feet above the main stage. This is where he performed a heavy as hell “God of Thunder” on his medieval looking axe bass. Deep cuts continued as they blazed through an unfamiliar “Say Yeah”, “War Machine”, “Psycho Circus” and 1974’s “Black Diamond” before playing perhaps their best-known hit “Rock and Roll All Nite”. During the last one, confetti was shooting out from cannons on the stage & into the crowd, the audience was going nuts and Paul smashed his guitar at the end of the song!!!
A short break brought them back out onto the stage with a few guests in tow. The mayor of Irving read a proclamation honoring KISS for their service to veterans, one lucky fan who had served in the Army spoke, a color guard presented arms and Paul led the whole audience in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. Just as the guests exited stage left, Paul bellowed “… here’s one for the old schools” and they tore into a fantastic version of “Cold Gin”. Finishing the night off with “Detroit Rock City”, KISS showed their enduring fans that they still have plenty of gas left in the tank. Of course time constraints will never allow them to play every hit at any one concert, I surely did miss hearing the following songs: “Beth”, “Calling Dr. Love”, “Strutter” and the disco-era “I Was Made for Lovin You”.
As the fans filtered out into the rainy weeknight, “God Gave Rock ‘n’ Roll to You II” played on the house speakers while I sat there remembering my first KISS concert. Would it have been cool to see them back in their heyday with all four original members – why yes of course – but with Eric Singer hitting every beat of the drums right, Tommy Thayer shredding the guitar solo parts and Gene & Paul leading the charge = this will be one that I remember for a long time.