At the tender age of 14, the first rock concert I attended was a group dubbed "The hottest band in the world." Yep, it was Kiss, a four-member band wearing costumes, makeup and high-heeled shoes, with a stage show that included pyrotechnics, fire breathing, blood-spitting, smoking guitars and confetti cannons.
After 35 years, not much has changed. Kiss performed for a sold-out audience Friday night at the Hampton Coliseum in Virginia. The crowd was a somewhat strange mixture of very young and very old, and more than a few wearing Kiss makeup and full regalia.
My son is now 18, but I was excited to be able to share this experience with him while reliving a great moment from my childhood. Kiss took the smoke-filled stage to Deuce, from their 1974 self-titled debut album Kiss. Maybe it was the make-up or the explosions, but the band looked exactly as I remembered them. I had to remind myself that the original members of this band are old enough to be grandfathers.
Only two founding members of Kiss remain: Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons. Drummer Eric Singer joined the band in 1992, and guitarist Tommy Thayer took over in 2002. 35 years and over 80 million records later the newest incarnation of Kiss sounded like a well-oiled machine.
At an age when retirement and relaxation should be a staple in ones life, I fully expected a low-key, geriatric show, unlike I witnessed in my childhood. Boy was I wrong! My son was treated to a theatrical concert unlike anything he had ever seen. Nearly identical to what I had witnessed in 1978. Gene Simmons spit blood, breathed fire, and even flew up to the top of the stage lights to play God Of Thunder. A shirtless Paul Stanley blew kisses to the crowd, broke a guitar, and even rode on a cable to the middle of the arena to perform the song Love Gun.
For over two hours the band played such hits as; Deuce, Strutter, Let Me Go Rock'N'Roll, Hotter Than Hell, Got To Choose, Modern Day Delilah, C'mon And Love Me, She, Parasite, 100,000 years, I love It Loud, Black Diamond, and ended the set with the classic Rock And Roll All Nite. Next came as what Paul Stanley described as "the longest encore ever" with, Shout It Out Loud, Lick It Up, Cold Gin, Love Gun, and, finally, Detroit Rock City.
After collecting our breath, we were able reflect on what we had seen, and it was gratifying for me to have shared a small piece of my childhood with my son. In fact, as timeless as Kiss looked on this night I wouldn't be at all surprised if my son one day got to share a similar experience with his kids... and you can bet that I'll be there with them!