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October 16, 2009

Concert review: Kiss at Wachovia Center and Verizon Center

kissSun Ring Posts blogger Kevin Eck is quite the Kiss fan. Frankly, I'm a little shocked at how many times he's seen the rock stalwarts. He went to two (2) Kiss shows this week alone. Here is his report:

They say you never forget your first Kiss. I vividly remember mine. 

The date was Dec. 20, 1977, and I was 10. That was the night I saw the self-professed hottest band in the land for the very first time, at the old Capital Centre in Landover.

What I experienced that night was much deeper than a school-boy infatuation. It was the start of a lifelong relationship, and even though there have been peaks and valleys over the past 32 years, the passion is still there ...

I've lost count of how many times I have seen Kiss in concert, but it’s more than 20. I added two more shows to the list earlier this week when I saw the makeup-adorned rockers at Wachovia Center in Philadelphia Monday night and Verizon Center in Washington the next night as part of the Alive 35 Tour, which celebrates Kiss' 35th anniversary.

The members of Kiss may be long in the tooth – their ages range from 48 to 60 – but they’re not short on energy, as the band performed for two hours each night and kept the crowd on its feet the entire time.

Kiss dug into its extensive catalog of catchy, three-chord rock songs and pulled out 18 classics, two-thirds of which came from its first three albums – "Kiss," "Hotter than Hell" and "Dressed to Kill," all of which were released between 1974 and 1975. I can't find much fault with the song selection, although I was disappointed that it was the exact same set list both nights.

kissAll the staples of a Kiss concert were on display, from the pyro explosions, to tongue-wagging bassist Gene Simmons spitting up fake blood and breathing fire, to the blizzard of confetti that filled the arena during "Rock and Roll All Nite."

As usual, front man and rhythm guitarist Paul Stanley commanded the stage. During the latter part of the show, he summed up the band's lack of pretense in regard to its live performances: "If you're here to hear about saving the whales, or ending world hunger, or who to vote for, you're in the wrong [expletive] place! You came here to forget about all that stuff."

While Kiss has always been more about flashy stage shows and larger-than-life characters than musical virtuosity, the band sounded tighter on these shows than it did during its glory years in the '70s. 

That’s due in large part to the presence of lead guitarist Tommy Thayer and drummer Eric Singer. Some hardcore Kiss fans are angered that Thayer and Singer perform in the makeup and costumes made famous by original members Ace Frehley and Peter Criss, respectively, but it's clear that Kiss is a better band with the facsimiles playing alongside founding members Simmons and Stanley.

Kiss got the show off to a rousing start with the vintage one-two punch of "Deuce" and "Strutter," the first two tracks on Kiss' landmark 1975 live album, "Alive!" Eleven of the first 13 songs Kiss played were included on "Alive!"

gene simmonsSurprisingly, the band only performed one song – "Modern Day Delilah" – off its latest album, "Sonic Boom," which was released last week. Kiss played a five-song encore, including "Lick It Up," the only song in the set from the era when Kiss performed without makeup. 

While watching Kiss close Tuesday night's show with "Detroit, Rock City," I really tried to savor the moment because I knew it could very well be the last time I see the band live.

Then again, I have felt that way at every Kiss concert I’ve attended since the band put the makeup back on in 1996. Something tells me this was not a Kiss goodbye.

SET LIST (same for both nights)

Let Me Go, Rock ‘n’ Roll
Hotter Than Hell
Got too Choose
Modern Day Delilah
C’mon and Love Me
100,000 Years
I Love It Loud
Black Diamond
Rock and Roll All Nite
Shout It Out Loud
Lick It Up
Cold Gin
Love Gun
Detroit, Rock City

(Photos of Kiss performing at Verizon Center in Washington by Nicholas Kamm/Getty Images)

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:03 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Concert reviews


My first KISS show was in June 1975 and my second was the Dec 77 show.
They play Pensacola on Monday but it was sold out by the time I heard about it. I'd like to hear the old stuff again live, esp from the 1st three albums.

Kiss was the 1st date my wife and had ... early '94. We're split up now, but I can't blame the band, they were always good to me. The wife on the other hand .....

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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

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