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Kiss rocks Metro Centre
August 1, 2013 - 11:57pm BY STEPHEN COOKE ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER
You wanted the greatest contrast between Halifax Metro Centre concerts in one week, you got the greatest contrast.
It’s hard to imagine many fans of Tegan and Sara’s emotional and vulnerable indie-electro pop from Tuesday night also being in attendance for Thursday night’s uncorking of some vintage overproof testosterone, courtesy of Kiss.
OK, maybe some of the parents from Tuesday were present to cut loose and shout it out loud; and there was more makeup per capita on Thursday night as nearly every row in the house had at least one Kissciple with batwings or cat whiskers painted on their faces.
After the obligatory ads for the Kiss Kruise and Hotter Than Hell Las Vegas Wedding Chapel on the giant video screens came the words everyone was waiting to hear: “YOU WANTED THE BEST, YOU GOT THE BEST. … THE HOTTEST ROCK ’N’ ROLL BAND IN THE WORLD …”
As the curtain dropped, a skin-warming blast of pyrotechnics provided the exclamation point, and over 8,000 fans were on their feet with their fists in the air. Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley and Tommy Thayer descended from the ceiling atop the metal framework of the Monster Tour’s much-vaunted Spider Stage, while Eric Singer pounded out the beat to Psycho Circus.
Good choice, since there was more clown-white in the crowd than onstage, and these larger than life, hotter than hell rock figures went into action, with bat-man Simmons spreading his costume’s leathery wings, spaceman Thayer weaving dreamily in his platform moon boots and Stanley as the star-faced ringleader.
“Halifax, how you doing? Are you up for a rock ’n’ roll party tonight?” Stanley asked after a pair of old-school crowd pleasers, Shout It Out Loud and Let Me Go Rock and Roll.
After listing off previous tour stops like Toronto and Montreal to a vigorous chorus of boos, Stanley continued encouragingly: “It ain’t the size of the crowd, it’s the size of your heart!” before performing the Kiss Audience Aptitude Test through the use of blinding lights and pointing.
“Wild animals, make some noise!” added Simmons, before handing it off to the band’s own wild creature, cat-man Singer, to kick into the mid-period Kiss hit I Love it Loud.
And loud it was, between the occasional fireworks, dual guitar assault and Simmons’ bass bombast. Louder than in their 2009 visit to the Halifax Commons, thanks to indoor acoustics, but likely clearer than in their ’70s shows at the Halifax Forum, thanks to improved audio technology.
Not everything has improved over time. Stanley’s wails seem raspier than ever, perhaps due to the East Coast being the end of the road for the tour, and one of the few new songs, Hell Or Hallelujah, from Monster, was built on a beat and riff that felt similar to Deep Purple’s Highway Star.
But it seemed no one was complaining, and it was a treat to hear some Kiss CanCon in the form of Creatures of the Night’s War Machine, co-written with Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance back in the ’80s.
Thayer also acquitted himself well when he finally got some lead vocal time with Ace Frehley’s Shock Me, while Stanley writhed on the floor at stage right. The tune quickly segued into Thayer’s own Outta This World, from Monster, with an extended solo built on screaming slabs of blues rock, machine-gun roars, and a snatch of O Canada before he and Singer were lifted skyward through the miracle of hydraulics and dry ice.
“Are you with us?!?” Singer asked before hoisting a bazooka to his shoulder and letting it rip, signalling Simmons to strut out with his axe-shaped bass and cheeks stuffed with stage blood.
The resulting rudimentary bass solo, crimson spew and kabuki theatrics provided some déjà vu for anyone who was on the Commons four years ago, including Simmons’ flight into the rafters for God of Thunder, but you’ve gotta have some sense of tradition.
By the time Stanley had done his zipline flight to the B-stage for Love Gun, and the rat-a-tat rhythm of Detroit Rock City rang out, Halifax’s latest Kiss baptism by fire had fully taken effect.
Opening act Shinedown only had the front slice of the stage to perform on, but even without makeup and pyro, the Florida hard-rock quartet showed a flair for the dramatic that worked in the context of the evening.
Dressed in business casual — black vests, short sleeves — the band had a great asset in singer Brent Smith, whose grand gestures and pure lung power played well to the nosebleed seats.
Shout It Out Loud
Let Me Go Rock and Roll
I Love It Loud
Hell or Hallelujah
Heaven’s on Fire
Outta This World
Thayer solo spot
Simmons solo spot
God of Thunder
Lick It Up
Detroit Rock City
I Was Made For Loving You
Rock and Roll All Night