Twice In A Lifetime With KISS ***Concert Review***

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KISS at the Halifax Metro Centre

I want to start this by stating very bluntly that I am a huge KISS fan. When I say huge, I mean HUGE! I own 101 KISS/KISS related cds (related are the tribute albums, the solo albums and things of that nature) as I import them from all over the world. I never thought I would ever see the band live in my lifetime but then in 2009 at the Commons in Halifax, Nova Scotia my dream came true. On August 1st, 2013 at the Halifax Metro Centre, my once in a life time dream became a twice in a lifetime dream as KISS returned on the Monster Tour. Did it live up to my very lofty expectations?

I am going to review each song and then at the end assign a numerical score as well as share my thoughts.

**All the photos and videos are property of their respective owners**

#1 – PSYCHO CIRCUS

Psycho Circus was the perfect song to open the show. As a friend of mine at work said “The words fit what is going on. The Song says Hello, here I am, here we are. We are one. I’ve been waiting for this night to come.” And I agree, the song is one of my favorite “newer” KISS tunes and it really did make the opening memorable. When the video map appeared on the video screen and it zoomed in from Nova Scotia to the Metro Centre the place went nuts. The new Spider device that lowers the band to the stage (and is active throughout the night) was a brilliant addition to the stage show. KISS blew the sell out crowd of over 8000 people away with this opening.

#2 – SHOUT IT OUT LOUD

If there is one thing that KISS seems to great at churning out, it is rock and roll anthems that energize the crowd and have them singing along and Shout It Out Loud is one of those songs. The crowd was singing along to the song and dancing in their aisles as this one was played. The only bad thing I noticed about the song is near the end when Tommy Thayer was going to sing |And everybody shout it now” his microphone volume was really low and we could hardly hear him. Later in the show the mic worked fine, so I am assuming that the people running the audio board fixed it.

#3 – LET ME GO, ROCK AND ROLL

A classic KISS track that came out back in the early 1970’s, Let Me Go, Rock And Roll really kept the juices flowing and the energy high. I am sure this is what it was intended to do as the song is a rock and roll classic. The highlight of this song to me is the mini bass solo that Gen has in it and man did he have that new mirror plated Punisher bass a thumping during this one. Eric Singer received a huge roar when he yelled :Halifax….you know KISS loves you!!!”

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#4- I LOVE IT LOUD

Speaking of loud, wow did the crowd ever rally around this song with the band as they played it!! Especially when Gene encouraged us all to sing along with him. It was so amazing and it really kept all the momentum going that the band had gained with the first few songs. I have to say that Gene’s voice may be the best it has ever been! The man is over 60 years old and still sounds like he did 40 years ago.

#5 – HELL OR HALLEJUAH

The first song off of the new KISS cd “Monster” and the first real test to see if the KISS Army in Halifax would be open to new music being played. Well, we were and we loved it! The song is a great tune and has a very raw vibe to it. It took some of the people in attendance a little bit to get into the sing but when they did, it was deafening! When Paul was trying to coax the title out of the audience by saying “Hell…….” the majority of the crowd did not know the rest of the title but I was yelling “Or Hallejuah” at the top of my lungs!

#6 – WAR MACHINE

This is one of the songs I was very, very excited to  hear live as it is my favorite song off of one of my favorite all time KISS albums “Creatures Of The Night.” War Machine was loud, featured vintage Gene Simmons growling vocals, amazing drumming by Eric Singer and had the crowd fist pumping in unison until the song was over. This song also replaced Firehouse as the track in which Gene breathed fire on this tour and I am extremely happy that it did as it was one of 4 songs I wanted to see very badly. The crowd went absolutely crazy for the fire breathing spot as well, as the cheers were extremely loud.

#7 – HEAVEN’S ON FIRE

The second of four songs that I was super excited to see live was Heaven’s On Fire. I love that KISS has been slotting in more “Non-make up era” songs into the set list as it really does freshen up what they are playing. It also allows the band and the fans to celebrate the entire history of the band. The first thing I noticed about this performance was Paul Stanley’s voice sounded a little tired as he could not hit the high notes (especially on the intro) and cracked throughout the song. You know what though, after a tour of America, Europe and now Canada the last few months I can give Paul a pass as he still sounded good and changed his range up a but. The song was still awesome and something I will never forget.

#8 – CALLING DR. LOVE

This was a surprise to me as I did not think they would be playing this one on tour as well but boy did the crowd love this track. It is one of those KISS songs that you know as soon as the opening guitar riff starts to play and one you will sing along with until the song is over. It had the Metro Centre hopping and had the KISS Army in Halifax rocking out.

#9 – SAY YEAH

I loved that they played a track off of the last 3 new studio albums. Psycho Circus, Hell Or Hallejuah and Say Yeah which is from the album Sonic Boom. It really showed that KISS is recognizing and celebrating the entire existence of the band and not just certain periods of time as they did with the Alive 35 tour that I saw back in 2009. Say Yeah is another rck anthem designed to have the crowd’s participation in singing and Halifax did not disappoint! It is also the best track off of Sonic Boom and a real treat to have played.

#10 – SHOCK ME / OUTTA THIS WORLD MEDLEY (THAYER & SINGER JAM)

All I can say about this part of the concert is WOW! I know there are a lot of people who do not like Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer in the band wearing the make up of Ace Frehley and Peter Criss but you know what…..get over it! They have earned their spots in the band and have really grown as entertainers as well as musicians. This was a highlight of the concert to me. Tommy can really play the guitar and during this jam when he started playing Oh Canada the place went nuts! Eric is also one of the most underrated drummers in music today, the guy can flat out sing and play with the best of them. Whether it was the fireworks firing out of Tommy’s guitar, the bazooka Eric used to launch fireworks over the crowd or the way that the fans loved every second of it, this is a cool memory to take away from the show.

#11 – GOD OF THUNDER

This is what I was waiting for not just all night but my entire life to see!!!!!!!! God Of Thunder is in the top 3 KISS songs that I love of all time and I was extremely disappointed that they used I Love It Loud back in 2009 for Gene’s bass solo and not this. Boy it was everything that I ever hoped it would be!! There were some new wrinkles thrown in as well, especially where a church bell plays and a light shines down on Gene from above, He looks skyward and smiles and shakes his head no which then leads into him spitting the blood and being hoisted to the top of the spider/lighting rig. The song is raw, raunchy, heavy and vintage Gene Simmons. The crowd went ballistic when he was raised to the mini stage and we were all throwing up the devil horns as Gene growled his way through this song. It was everything I hoped it would be!!!

#12 – LICK IT UP

Lick It Up has become such a staple of the band’s set list and it is a song that I never grow tired of hearing. The crowd, especially the female fans, were really into this song. The coolest part of this was during the solo and Tommy was in the center of the stage. The spider lowered down on top of him and he emerged from the middle of it as Paul climbed up on it too. They were both raised high into the air and played a small snippet of Won’t Get Fooled Again by The Who! The spider has really been a big part of the stage show and I really like it!

#13 – LOVE GUN

This one is always going to bring the house down! Paul referenced the last time that KISS played Halifax in 2009 and asked if it was 4 years ago. Paul said he remembered parts of it like it was yesterday. He told us all that Halifax is one if the cities that embraced the band. He said he loved us all and it was an honor to be here. He of course asked if we wanted him to come visit us in the crowd but we had to invite him by saying his name. Having the crowd yell his name three times (well technically two did it as he was surprised at how loud we were and did the third time as superstition) he zipped out to a mini stage that rotated 360 degrees so that he was facing the entire crowd throughout the song!! Love Gun is one of those songs I love to listen to just for the drums alone and Eric did not disappoint but this has become an important part of the KISS set list.

#14 – BLACK DIAMOND

Another one of the songs I place in the top 3 KISS songs for me of all time and one that I never get tired of. Black Diamond is the chance for Eric Singer to show of his vocals as well as his drumming ability. Eric has an amazing voice and really belts this one out. The highlight of the song is the inclusion of the little mini jam that KISS did back on the Creatures Of The Night tour when Eric Carr and Vinnie Vincent were in the band and wore the make up of the Fox and Egyptian Wiz respectively. It was so cool to have them play that at the end of Black Diamond like they did way back in 1983.

KISS would normally leave the stage and then have the crowd cheer to bring them back out for a 5 or so song encore but this was different. Paul took the microphone and said “This is where we usually end the show but do you want us to play more?” The crowd of course wanted them to and they played only a three song encore.

#15 – DETROIT ROCK CITY

This one always gets a great reaction from the crowd and Paul really had us all in the palm of his hand when he said “We never expected Halifax to be a rock and roll city but back four years ago you showed us. There is more than on Rock City.” The dual guitar solos are always a highlight of this song and the moment where Gene stalks over to Tommy and threatens to lick his neck always cracks the crowd up. What an amazing song to see live!

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#16 – I WAS MADE FOR LOVING YOU

This is a song that is still very popular among KISS fans and the band recognizes it. Even though they have always stated that they were never proud of their disco phase in which the song was recorded for, they still play it live but really bring it back into a hard rock tune. Paul used to sing this song in his falsetto from start to finish live, even though when he recorded it he sang it in a lower range. For this song, he went back to the range of the original recording and sang it in a lower tone. The song is a classic and is fitting to be the second to last song played as it may be their best known song, well behind the one that closed out the show.

#17 – ROCK AND ROLL ALL NITE

This is the song that is worth the price of admission alone and is my all time favorite KISS tune. There is nothing in the world like hearing this song played live when you are admist a huge amount of people. I experienced it with almost 90,000 people in 2009 at the Commons outdoor show in Halifax and had the same fantastic experience in the Metro Centre with a sell out crowd of over 8000 people. This is the official national anthem of the KISS Army! The new stage show really shined here as the rises that Tommy and Gene were raised up with now extended out over the crowd and actually reach over about a third of the audience! I can not stress how cool it was to sing the chorus of this song as the band listened. I actually shed a few tears as I threw my hands in the air and sang along with every freaking word.

SCORE:   100/10

MY THOUGHTS:

Four years ago I lived my dream and saw my favorite band in concert after believing I would never ever have the opportunity to do so. The set list was classic KISS but they mostly played songs from the first three albums for the bulk of the show, except the encore. Being outside in the rain with 90, 000 KISS fans is something I will never forget as Halifax made the band realize we loved KISS and were a true rock and roll city that deserved more rock and roll.

This show topped the concert in 2009 tenfold. The set list was like someone picked it out of my head of songs I want to hear live. The new stage show which included the spider, the risers that went out over the crowd and the light up logos on Eric’s kick drums were phenomenal. KISS took the super lofty expectations I had and blew them out of the water. If this concert is the last time I ever see KISS, I would say I saw them at their best.

I do have to say Shinedown was a great opening act and I became a fan instantly. They are a fantastic band who gained a new follower and put on a hell of a show.It was also cool to be interviewed by a Journalism major at one of the local universities as she saw the KISS concert as an unique opportunity to complete the interview she needed to do. Here is what I remember of what we discussed:

Her: “So what is your earliest memory of KISS?”

Me: “I remember being in my cousin Benji’s room when I was like 7 or 8 and seeing a poster of KISS on his wall. Right away I was awestruck and it captured my imagination.”

Her: “How big of a fan are you?”

Me: “I am the proud owner of 101 KISS / KISS related cds. I own all the official catalogue and import cds from Holland, the United Kingdom, Japan, Germany,,,you name it. SOme of their cds do not get released in North America, so I seek them out. I own all of Ace Frehley’s solo cds, Peter Criss’s as well. When former band members left and recorded solo albums, started new bands like the Vinnie Vincent Invasion and there were tribute albums for KISS…I bought them all.”

Her (mouth open in shock): “You are a big fan aren’t you?”

Me: “KISS is a big part of my life and I honour that by collecting their music.”

Her: “Do you think that this is the last time KISS plays Halifax since they are getting older?”

Me: “Nope, I think they have one or two more tours left and I believe Halifax is now secured as a stop on any Canadian tour. We blew them away as much as they blew us away 4 years ago and I think hey know Halifax is a true rock and roll town.”

If you have a chance to see KISS, do yourself a favour and do it. They are by far the best live band in the universe and no one is close. There are a lot of great live bands in the world like Motley Crue, Lordi, Nightwish and the list goes on and on but there is only one master of the live show. I feel blessed to have been able to lie my dream twice now and can not wait for the third opportunity to present itself as I will go without question.

I just wanna rock and roll all nite………..and party every day!!!

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About Jason Huskins

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