After 36 years and still going strong, the KISS tour for 2009 started off kind of where it all began, at Cobo Hall Arena in Detroit. The exact arena where KISS' mega monster "Alive" album was recorded at. In 1975 was to be the bands send-off to this hallowed hall. Cobo Hall will no longer have any concerts as it is now being refurbished to make it a car/exposition center.
You don't think Detroit was pumped for this show? Not only does KISS destroy the town with 2 sold out shows but the very next day the Detroit Lions play right down the road and win their first game in almost 2 years!!
With fans filling into the arena opening guests BUCKCHERRY started the night off. These guys got a great response from the crowd, which is still very hard to do for a band opening for a legendary band like KISS. The sound was very good, with clean crisp vocals, pounding drums and heavy mix of double guitars and bass. There were lots of hard rockers thrown in the set, with their hits and a couple of ballads. They did a cool version of DEEP PURPLES' "Highway Star", and their last song of their 50 minute set was "Crazy Bitch", with a bit of BILLY SQUIRES' "Stroke Me" and also the theme from the TV show Hells Kitchen, "Fire". BUCKCHERRY don't censor themselves (hey it's rock and roll!), so if you're thinking of bringing your kids, cover their ears!!
After what seemed like forever (35 minutes!) the set change was over and now Cobo was filled to the rafters. The house lights went out and the place exploded with the loudest roar from a crowd that I've heard in a long time. The familiar growl over the sound system of "ALLRIGHT DETROIT...YOU WANTED THE BEST..YOU GOT THE BEST---THE HOTTEST BAND IN THE LAND..... KISS explodes our ears as the beginning to "Deuce" starts to play. The KISS logo is lit up on the floor right in front of the humongous stage, and as Paul, Gene and Tommy are blasting away.
We start to see them as they are now being lifted up from under the stage to now being right in front of the massive logo... About three seconds later Eric is being lifted on his drum platform to the top of the KISS logo sign. With bombs blasting, lights that would make you go into an epileptic fit and ear shattering music, it is now apparent that KISS will show no mercy as they are prepared to destroy Cobo Hall. "Deuce" ended with an ear shattering bomb, and jump right into "Strutter". Pauls' voice sounds good, but it seems like he has a problem hitting some of the higher notes on this one. Not to worry, as all he's gotta do is just warm up a bit.
Looking at the stage it's huge! The KISS logo sits on the floor, and the famous KISS ARMY banners hang in the background on both sides. There are video screens on each side of the banners for the people on side of the stage to get a good view, and there is a huge video screen behind the drum kit in the background that might make Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones jealous. There are also about 50-60 TV monitors that are about 2 feet by 2 feet across the stage in 3 or 4 rows that show different images throughout the performance. Two huge ramps on either side of the stage bring them up closer to the people on the sides.
KISS played pretty much the entire "Alive" album, minus "Firehouse" and "Rock Bottom". Gene did his fire breathing during "Hotter Than Hell", and during "100,000 Years" Eric did his drum solo that was really cool with his drums rotating a full 180 degrees and stops so that we watch the back of him drumming for a bit, which was a different look on things.
During the end of the song Paul and Tommy kind of traded off with Paul screaming and Tommy picking the high notes on his guitar. I would rather Paul not do this as I would have liked him to actually save his voice for singing. Just feels like it's got to hurt his voice doing that.
Paul talked with the crowd alot during the show, mentioning that Detroit has music like Motown, bands like GRAND FUNK RAILROAD, Bob Seeger, Mitch Ryder, Ted Nugent and Kid (Rock). He stated that they are extremely honored to be included with those bands by Detroit opening their arms (and legs) to KISS in the very beginning, when no one else had any clue as to what was to hit. He said that KISS knew and wanted to be THE last band to play and close out Cobo hall, they seemed very humbled and grateful to give back to Detroit what Detroit has given to them.
Tommy has won the crowd over. It's been quite some time now that he's been in the band and alot of people (including myself) would love to see Ace. But Ace is happy and fine doing his own thing.
Playing in Aces' shoes (moon boots) isn't easy, but Tommy now I think feels more comfortable on stage. He plays Ace's' style but also plays it clean, clear and sharp. I would like to see him do something a little different that the rockets firing out of his guitar during his solo, though.
During "Rock and Roll All Night" there is what looked like a mid winter Detroit blizzard with confetti falling from the sky and shooting out of cannons in front of the stage and in front of the soundboard, total blizzard for the entire song, with Gene and Tommy going up on lifts on each side of the stage and Paul on a middle lift smashing his guitar. Saying goodnight to the crowd, they disappeared off stage as bombs and fireworks exploded.
Coming back on stage, Paul said that there are so many people here, grand parents, parents and their kids. He said that as long as people are keeping the KISS magic alive, these little kids that are here now will be bringing THEIR kids to KISS shows!
Both shows were filmed for a future DVD release. They'll have to split both nights together as there were opening night mistakes such as Paul's' microphone not working right during "Love Gun". He flies out from the stage across the arena to a platform in front of the soundboard, and tries to sing. The microphone is not working properly, the sound guys get it to work after a few seconds. Halfway through the song it goes out again and Paul just throws it to the platform floor, during the second night Gene flying to the rafters to sing "I Love It Loud" didn't go as planned as the cables hooked up to Gene didn't work. No need to worry, they'll try it again! OOPS, second time they try it and not working again. A roadie comes out, unhooks Gene and he goes over to the mike on stage as if nothing happened, and starts the song with OOOHHH YEEAAHHH??
The encores are usually 2-3 songs. Paul said that this is the second part of the show with the longest encore we'll hear. They then proceeded to play songs not on KISS Alive and started with "Shout it out Loud". They then went to the only non makeup era song of the night, which was "Lick It Up"; in the middle of the song they played "Won't Get Fooled Again" by THE WHO.
KISS' new album "Sonic Boom" hasn't come out yet, so they played only one song from the album, which is the single "Modern Day Delilah". I'm not sure too many people are aware of the song being out there, but I'm sure once the album is officially released more songs off the record will be live in concert. The show ended with "Detroit Rock City" (what else??) with them pretty much blowing up everything.
In closing the show, Paul wondered aloud as to why a great city like Detroit has the worst case of unemployment in the United States and even though these are hard economic times sometimes you gotta escape the realism and just go out and enjoy yourself for a night or two. The people who were at these two sold out shows did just that.
ALL photos by Scott Halverson