Never have I been more excited to write something! A year and change into A&GS’ tenure on the hard rock and metal scene and we FINALLY got to cover a KISS show! This would be my fourteenth time seeing the boys from NYC since 1988 and on Sunday I don’t think my feet touched the Dallas ground all day. Add to that the fact that DEF LEPPARD and KOBRA AND THE LOTUS were also on the bill and the stage was set for an unbelievable night of music. Bonus: I got to take one half of The Wonder Twins (Hannah) and show her what a REAL arena rock show is supposed to look like! Let me get this out of the way right now: DEF LEPPARD didn’t let anyone take photos, so as a result, this is the only mention they’ll get here. It’s a shame because they were very, very good live. And that’s that. Now let’s move on.
KOBRA AND THE LOTUS had the unenviable task of opening the show at 7 pm to a half-full Gexa Energy Pavilion and a crowd that was largely unprepared for a metal band on this bill. That didn’t stop them from rocking the balls off the place. And while all the stiffs around us were sitting down Hannah and I were into every groove and every note from this amazing group of newcomers. Kobra Paige’s vocals live need to be heard to be believed and she wasted no time flexing her muscles with title track “High Priestess” from the band’s new album followed by “Zombie”.
After a brief hello to those of us in attendance the band resumed the ass-kicking with “Hold On” and “Warhorse” also from the outstanding new record, which I highly recommend picking up. In a surprise move the band unleashed a cover of HEART’S “Barracuda” upon us, much to our delight! And with the twin guitar attack behind that massive voice, this was a beefier version, almost like HEART on steroids. I immediately began mentally putting together a laundry list of more covers I’d love to see them tackle. Now it was time for arguably my favorite new song from them, “Lost in the Shadows”, a six-minute epic that Kobra and I discussed at length in a recent interview, and live it was fantastic. Alas, it was time for them to say goodnight, and after metal masterpiece “I Am, I Am” KOBRA AND THE LOTUS disappeared into the Dallas night. I only hope they come back on some kind of headlining club run this fall or winter because seven songs was not nearly enough for this guy and Hannah agreed!
“ALL RIGHT, DALLAS! YOU WANTED THE BEST, YOU GOT THE BEST! THE HOTTEST BAND IN THE WORLD, KISSSSSSS!!!”
And so began the Greatest Show on Earth. With a giant spider stage set up and a light/pyro show other bands couldn’t touch on their best day, KISS came out swingin’ with “Psycho Circus” into “Deuce” which had the folks in front of me hi-fiving me due to my unbridled enthusiasm/singing/screaming along. The most real fans always find each other at KISS shows, I swear. And with each passing song, from “Shout It Out Loud”, to “War Machine”, to “Hotter Than Hell” the show becomes a part of me, of who I am, and on this night it was no different. Anyone who’s been to a KISS show with me knows that from start to finish Damian as we know him leaves the planet and something else takes over. I can’t explain it, but there he is air-jamming and mimicking everything, from Paul Stanley’s shoulder shakes to Gene Simmons’ menacing stances. And as always, I am the loudest person in my area!
After Gene finished breathing fire, and I looked at Hannah and said, “Let’s see some of these Mayhem bands do THAT!” it was time for a high-point of any KISS show, “I Love It Loud” which gave way to another 80’s favorite “Lick It Up”. I love this song as much now as I did when I was ten and it never fails to get me going! The place went pitch black for a moment and then Gene emerged from the darkness, ready to give us his bass tones from the Underworld as the blood ran down his face.
And then it was up, up, and away where he presided over the masses and declared himself “God of Thunder” from his lofty perch. A nice surprise came in the form of “Hide Your Heart” one of my favorites from 1989. I really love the fact that this band embraces songs from all eras of KISS in current setlists. From here the band went right into “Cold Gin” sans intro and it was definitely a thicker, dirtier version than on tours past; I loved it.
Again, if you’ve seen KISS these last few tours you know that this is about the time Paul’s gonna come out and see everybody in the middle. And as “Love Gun” started he did just that, swinging out to a rotating mini-stage with the band playing their asses off behind him. All you naysayers can talk all the shit you want, but at the end of the day THIS is the most solid line-up KISS has ever had musically and that’s because no one in the band is whacked out on drink or drugs. And that makes for a much better show, believe me. Paul hung out in the middle for the soft beginning of “Black Diamond” before rocketing back to join the others as drummer Eric Singer took lead vocals and Tommy Thayer did some of his best soloing of the night.
Not ones to waste time with the whole “encore” thing they decided to just give us two more songs, dammit. First up was “Detroit Rock City” a song that no matter where these guys play it is about THAT city, THAT arena, on THAT night. And it still rips it up live! By the time we finally got to “Rock and Roll All Nite” I felt like a runner who could see the finish line. I was dog-tired from my severe lack of standing still, but I, like my heroes had one more song left in me. And I jumped, rocked, moved and grooved along with the guys until it was all done and we crossed that finish line together.
When it was over I was drenched in sweat and spent. I looked at Hannah and simply said, “Did I tell ya?!?’ And she said, “You told me” with about a thousand-watt smile. That just made it even more worth it. Nothing in this world makes me happier than when I am at a KISS show, and I do mean nothing. This band is a part of my life force and their music flows through my veins, as it has since I was four years old, and as it will until the day they bury me in my KISS Kasket. And I can definitely rank this particular show very high up in my personal standings. Everything was just perfect. And I was nervous, I won’t lie. After hearing Paul struggle through that show in Oslo last summer ( I KNEW he was sick, I just knew it!) during KISS’ nonstop touring schedule I was worried that it had all taken an irreversible toll.
I could not have been more wrong. His voice was just fine, and on a hot summer night in Dallas, KISS showed once again why they are the Undisputed Heavyweight Champions of Live Rock and Roll!!!
LIVE REVIEW: THE MAESTRO
LIVE PHOTOS: PAUL WILKINS