Nothing is better than seeing your favorite band in concert and that was surely the case Monday night as I went to the KISS concert up in Boston at TD Garden (formerly the Boston Garden). There were a few factors that made this concert special:
- This was the first time KISS has properly toured the U.S. since 2004.
- It had been 11 years since KISS’ last appearance at the Garden, the last was the 2 opening shows on the PSYCHO CIRCUS tour in November 1998.
- The first tour featuring new material since PSYCHO CIRCUS in 1998.
- My 11 yr. old daughter was finally going to see the band, the spectacle, that her daddy had been telling her about since birth.
Armed with tickets, cash for t-shirts, and a love for all things KISS, My best friend, my daughter and I made our way to Boston for the KISS show on the eve of the release of the band’s new studio album SONIC BOOM.
First thing I noticed was that this was going to be a diehards’ show. The last time the band played the Garden, they sold out 2 nights with the original lineup including Ace Frehley and Peter Criss. The band had just come off a 2 year world tour for their reunion so interest in KISS was still at a high. 11 years and 3 more tours later and interest in the band is slightly waning. There wasn’t the usual huge crowd roaming the sidewalks on Boston or the concourses in the arena, it was a big crowd but you could tell it wasn’t going to be a sellout. The second thing I noticed was the souveneirs or lack there of. Usually, the KISS machine has a ton of good and different choices for shirts, hats, posters, etc. I was a little disappointed by the selection and I was hoping for a little more SONIC BOOM representation, most of the merchandise was for the ALIVE 35 Tour. It is the 35th anniversary of KISS and they’ve toured on that platform in other parts of the world so they are continuing it on this leg of the tour, I’m expecting a SONIC BOOM tour when the band announces their second U.S. leg in the Spring and/or Summer. The good news is that we had awesome seats on the Gene side of the stage and my daughter was extremely excited.
Tired Of You
Next 2 You
Out Of Line
Talk To Me
I’ve seen Buckcherry in concert back when they opened for AC/DC on the STIFF UPPER LIP Tour back in 2001 and they were very good. I have been a Buckcherry fan before most people even knew who they were. I remember reading a review in a ‘zine back in 1997 on their self-titled debut and I picked it up right away. This is before ‘Lit Up’ went to radio and they became the “next big thing”. The band was complete high energy and had the crowd going but I could have done with a more diverse setlist. Half the set was from their 2006 release, 15, and three tunes came from the current BLACK BUTTERFLY. That only leaves two songs for older material and everyone knew they were playing ‘Lit Up’, I was a little disappointed by the cover of Deep Purple’s ‘Highway Star’ but I understand they have to promote their affiliation with NASCAR. The best part of ‘Highway Star’ was when the 20-somethings in front of us were raving about how cool this “new” Buckcherry song was and my 11 yr. old daughter told them it was a Deep Purple song. I’m a proud father! I kind of expected a few more from BLACK BUTTERFLY, especially ‘Too Drunk’, but you have to capitalize on success any way you can and 15 was a great (self-released) comeback for the band.
King Of The Night Time World
Got To Choose
Modern Day Delilah
Hotter Than Hell (w/fire breathing)
I Stole Your Love
C’mon And Love Me
She (w/guitar solo & rockets)
100,000 Years (w/drum solo)
I Love It Loud (w/bass solo, blood spitting & Gene flying)
Black Diamond (w/’Stairway To Heaven’ intro & Eric Singer on lead vocals)
Rock And Roll All Nite
Shout It Out Loud
Lick It Up
Let Me Go, Rock ‘N’ Roll
Love Gun (w/Paul Stanley flying)
Detroit Rock City
Like I said, nothing is better than seeing your favorite band in concert. The problem is that your enjoyment can cloud your opinion of the overall performance. There were plenty of people after the show saying it was the best KISS show they had seen…..this was my 16th KISS show and I can honestly say that this wasn’t their best performance. It wasn’t terrible but this concert didn’t live up to the standards the band has set since the Reunion Tour.
Paul Stanley billed the show as “a night of KISS Klassics” and the setlist was a combination of ALIVE & ALIVE II. Unfortunately there weren’t any surprises in the set, all the songs they played with the exception of ‘Modern Day Delilah’ have been rotated in and out of the set since 1996. The diehards like myself love hearing ‘Parasite’, ‘She’, and ‘Got To Choose’ but a truly special night would have been if they pulled out a couple tracks they never play, something they did back in 2004. The other thing I didn’t like was that they basically ignore the ’80s material except for ‘I Love It Loud’ and ‘Lick It Up’…..let’s hear something else from the ’80s and not ignore a pivotal and successful era of KISS! All complaints aside, I sang every word and cheered for every song. I’m a KISS fan and I still enjoyed the show. At least they pulled ‘Calling Dr. Love’ from the set, I can’t stand that song!
The stage was massive as was the giant video screen. The fireworks, bombs and fire all worked with perfection as did all the stunts and gimmicks. My problem was with the stage moves. Tommy Thayer is a talented guitarist and a good fit for the band but does he have to try and imitate all of Ace Frehley’s moves? I understand he has to play like Ace but does he have to do the staggering and off-balance walking too? Ace Frehley actually walked like that in the platform boots in real life and Tommy is doing an imitation, it’s not a character trait or stage move. The stage moves with the band up front swinging their guitars or having Tommy/Ace on his knees playing in front of Gene & Paul all seemed forced. Even Paul’s dance moves looked forced but he gets a pass due to his new hip. Like a true KISS fan, I cheered for all these things anyway. The sound was very good. Musically the band sounded tight and energized but the vocals were a little rough. Most KISS fans know Gene Simmons lost his vocal range back on the 2003 tour but his vocals were pretty good, it was Paul Stanley’s voice that concerned me, it sounded like he was straining and was hoarse. It’s possible that at age 58 he has lost some of his vocal range but he sounded good in 2006 at age 56 on his solo album and tour. My concerns were backed up when I saw the performance the next night on TV during the David Letterman Show. Maybe Paul needed to warm up because he sounded better as the set went on after ‘Modern Day Delilah’ but some of the higher notes were rough. Still, it’s something to worry about when the major person of talent in the band doesn’t perform well. Eric Singer did a solid job singing lead on ‘Black Diamond’ and it was good to hear the new ‘Modern Day Delilah’ live.
Despite my criticism of the performance, I really enjoyed myself. When the band was playing I was pumping my fist and having a great time singing along. My excitement was built up by my daughter’s wide-eyed and jaw dropped reaction to seeing everything happen right before her eyes. She screamed, sang, danced and cheered louder than some of the adults around us…..and that was just for Buckcherry! Everytime KISS did a stunt or lit off their pyro all she could say was “Wow!” My daughter was awestruck and it took me back to when I was a kid and my reaction to seeing KISS for the first time. That alone made the show a whole lot better. This is the first leg of the U.S. tour and I’m sure now that SONIC BOOM is released KISS will do another leg of shows over the Summer. If so, I will be there and I will still enjoy myself. They may be getting older, they may be losing some of their luster, but there is no denying that even an average KISS show is still a great concert.