KISS @ Madison Square Garden (10/10/2009)

kiss logo

Artist: KISS
Venue: Madison Square Garden (New York, NY)
Opener: Buckcherry
Date: 10/10/2009
Label: KISS Records

I don’t think that I have to repeat myself with this but KISS is my very favorite band of them all and while they were not the first music that I was exposed to as a young fan, they were my first official purchase as a consumer with his own money and have always managed to take me away with their concerts and performance mystique. That being said I have been following the band for a couple of decades and watched them go through the numerous changes from makeup to non-makeup, to reunion tour to new members sporting the legacy members’ signature face paint. The reunion lineup in 1996 gave their fans the first new KISS music in years with “Psycho Circus” and the band would tour before and after this release extensively until original members Peter Criss and Ace Frehley were no longer a part of the group. Fast forward a few years and KISS while still active, does its thing with both Eric Singer on drums and Tommy Thayer on lead guitar. The part of this that has come under fire from numerous KISS fanatics is that they are doing so in their familiar faces. The show tonight would be at Madison Square Garden which is a Mecca to a band like KISS and actually also the very first place that I saw them way back on the “Dynasty” tour which also was my very first concert. Thanks Pop. KISS would not only be celebrating the 35th anniversary of the “Alive” album but they would also be hitting the road in support of their newest album “Sonic Boom”. Tonight would also find the band Buckcherry opening up and having never seen them before I wanted to be inside to catch what they were all about.

Buckcherry: The show started right on the dot at 7:30 with the Los Angeles based group and I had mentioned never ever catching them on the stage before this evening. Based on this I was hoping to find out what some of my friends found so appealing about them and yet while I felt that they came on strong and sounded good for what they do, I was not overly impressed by the presentation. True there is a little bit of the olden days Guns ‘N Roses/Aerosmith swagger to them and how singer Josh Todd acts, but for me there were just too many similarities to the vibe of those bands to keep me interested in them or make them seem all that unique. Glancing around I noticed that there were a few thousand folks around me who had also arrived early and were apparently fans of the group and were getting into the groove with them but when it came to me I was pretty much counting the minutes until KISS was set to come on. There was not much of a stage setting for them outside of the standard equipment and Todd spoke to the crowd often citing his happiness to be a part of the tour. He dedicated a tune to his wife which I felt was nice but I am not too sure why they bothered to offer up a rendition of Deep Purple’s “Highway Star” since they have so many tunes of their own – add to that the fact that the version was lackluster if you asked me. They had the larger part of their crowd dancing along and singing “Crazy Bitch” which is probably the bands most popular tune to date. The downside of this track this evening was the incredible amount of younger kids in the crowd who were getting exposed to the raunchier side of Rock & Roll lyrics up front and center as this one was being delivered. I gave them credit for handing the set without any visible hitches and know full well that the opening act for a KISS show is not always welcome. I clearly remember not being interested in New England, Blue Oyster Cult or Queensryche when they were opening up for KISS and oddly enough those seem to be the only ones whose names I even remember from the KISS shows that I have attended over the years. Lucky me, this set was short and over almost as fast as it had began. I had to admit that I wished KISS would have chosen someone who needed this gig more than Buckcherry. These guys just played a Crue Fest as a co-headliner and also did some mid-sized venue headlining so they are doing ok on their own in my opinion.

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KISS by Ken Pierce (2009)

KISS: There is an electrical vibe in the arena before a KISS show kicks into gear and this is a familiar feeling to me after having seen the band in action for so many years and at so many shows. It’s a welcome thing and if you walk around the corridors to browse the merchandise (of which there is always plenty) you will see numerous friends and often people sporting the signature makeup themselves. Some of them are dressed to the nines in the full regalia and generally those who perform in KISS tribute acts on their own time can be seen hawking their flyers or buttons and stickers. Tonight would be no exception to this and for me this was a good way to get the night started and prepare to be entertained by the masters. The tremendous curtain with the KISS logo was drawn while the crew got the stage prepared and when it came down amidst the rising smoke and flash pots from the set to announce the guys arrival the entire room was on their feet. They would open up with the classic “Deuce” which is always a rocking number to lead off with and as expected they sounded fantastic. The set continued on with another few numbers that came from “Alive” and hence those first three classic KISS recordings by kicking us in the face with “Strutter” and “Let Me Go Rock And Roll”. Paul Stanley is the consummate front man and always speaks to the crowd during the shows quite a bit. This evening he would recant how he used to drive people in his cab to this very arena to see artists like Elvis Presley and exclaim how one day someone was going to drive people to see me. Some of his talk got rousing applause but when he mentioned Nassau Coliseum where they had played the night before he was met with boos. That’s the home of the NY Islanders and when you are in the house of The Rangers, you don’t even bring up the Mausoleum. This dialogue led us all into “Hotter Than Hell” which surprisingly enough found the Gene Simmons fire breathing trick being done as well. This surprised a lot of fans who were used to it being done during “Firehouse” but when it came down to it that song would not be performed tonight. It wouldn’t be long until Paul spoke of the bands new album “Sonic Boom” and when he asked how many people had it there were a lot of positive responses to his question. He said that he and the guys wanted a number one album and they could make it happen by grabbing a copy. From there they launched into the albums opening track “Modern Day Delilah” and the tune does sound excellent in concert. It has a very “big” sound and that’s always good when it comes to KISS material.

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KISS by Ken Pierce (2009)

Many of the bands legacy fans have issues with the fact that Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer are sporting the makeup of Ace Frehley and Peter Criss but instead of complaining about it myself as one of these long time fans, I choose to view it as these musicians doing the task at hand with great skill and keeping the bands original mystique going strong. Looking around the audience this evening I took a strong notice of how there were so many younger kids present and while I had seem some at the shows since the bands 1996 reunion, there were more than ever tonight and none of these youngsters know that Ace is the Space Ace or Peter the Cat, and instead view them as the Space Man and Cat Man. At the end of the day neither Ace nor Peter are a part of the band anymore and have not been for some time. At least Eric is a phenomenal drummer and brings a lot to the KISS musical table with his level of play. Guitar wise I felt that Tommy is doing almost every lick the same way that Ace would do them and that allows the older material to not sound all that different. The guitarist would offer up a solo that had space age and cosmic images around and while the sounds were his own he would let loose the rockets during its finale which is a clear Ace signature trick. Fortunately there would be no smoking guitar as I think the diehards would have flipped out if he had done that. As a lead in to “100,000 Years” Paul told us that they have classics and then they have classic classics, and that this tune was one of those classic classics. During the song we got a great drum solo from Singer which was powerful and solid even if it was not as interesting as the ones done by the late great Eric Carr. I did feel that it was a lot better than the Peter Criss ones of course. During the later portion of the song Paul did his audience call and response thing and I had to say that this really ran far too long for my liking. I copied the set list from the previous evening to see what might be played and knowing that both “I Stole Your Love” and “Watchin’ You” had been done made me less interested in extra fluff instead of tunes. Sadly the band would not deliver these two classics either.

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KISS by Ken Pierce (2009)

For this tour the KISS stage seemed to be a massive display of video screens and far more than the band had ever used before. The giant KISS logo was center stage and below the drums as opposed to higher above and there were huge KISS Army banners hanging on either side of the arena. There were some flames used but I didn’t feel as many as we had seen in the past and perhaps all the electronic gear was going to make continual flame jets a bad idea. Smoke and flash pots made up for extra flames and of course there was some fireworks tossed in for good measure. The additional video screens made the concert easy to be enjoyed by those too far away and in the eyes of those younger fans the band was truly coming to bigger and brighter life. Talk about your first impressions. Gene would fly during the bass solo and spit blood but it would not be to the tune of “God Of Thunder” but “I Love It Loud” instead which I had to agree was a bit different and I am not sure that I like it yet. In the past Gene has also done this during “War Machine” if memory serves me correctly. For “Black Diamond” Paul offered the chance for the audience to pick whatever part they wanted to sing with him for its intro and then Eric Singer took over showing how he is a really good vocalist as well. The use of “Stairway To Heaven” in the intro was a nice touch as well. “Rock & Roll All Nite” usually signifies the end of a KISS show but tonight this would not be the case as Paul led us into the Hard Rock National Anthem by saying they play songs to take you away and not remind you about the things that bring you down in the world. Amen to that Mr. Stanley, we get enough depressing information from the daily news. I sure don’t want my concerts to be more of the same thing. He said we paid to escape and he was righter than right about it. The confetti bombs went off during the tune and they left for a short moment before returning for the encores.

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KISS by Ken Pierce (2009)

When Paul returned he said that the band was not going to come back on and do one song only to leave again and again and instead would be playing the longest encore ever. They blasted into “Shout It Out Loud” which is always a rousing tune live and this led us to “Lick It Up”. For this one they had the entire place singing and while it’s not everyone’s favorite track one cannot discount how well it works at a show when the whole arena is helping with the chorus. They played around a little with it and offered some melody from The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again” which I found worked rather well. “Cold Gin” came up next and I would have swapped this for any of the other omitted numbers this evening since I’ve grown tired of the tune. Thayer actually sang the usual Ace part which made a few scowl but again we need to move on from this view. For “Love Gun” Paul would test the audience love for him by making them scream loud enough for him to ride the wire out to the middle of the arena. He lands on a small platform that slowly spins around and that gives everyone a really great view of what he is doing. The closing number would be “Detroit Rock City” and I had to say that after nineteen songs and two solos that there were no complaints from the sold out audience. As I wandered out to the stereo played “God Gave Rock & Roll To You II”, I noticed one of Metal elites among us and got to say hellos to Mr. Alex Skolnick from Testament & Trans-Siberian Orchestra. I heard that Mike Monroe from Hanoi Rocks was also there but sadly I would not get to meet him like some other fans had been able to tonight. I left on cloud nine and was incredibly pleased by the performance and selection of tunes. I grabbed the usual tour book for the collection of KISS goodies and am certain that we can count on some sort of full concert DVD from this tour or at least find it on a sure to be coming future “KISSology” DVD set.

The new KISS album “Sonic Boom” is available exclusively at Wal-Mart retailers or via their online store. We paid a visit to one of them on the day of the album’s release and wrote a Blog about what we encountered. Fans of the band can enjoy that commentary HERE.

Full KISS Photo Gallery:

Buckcherry Set List:
1. Tired Of You
2. Next To You
3. Lit Up
4. Out Of Line
5. Talk To Me
6. Rescue Me
7. Highway Star
8. Everything
9. Sorry
10. Crazy Bitch

KISS Set List:
1. Deuce
2. Strutter
3. Let Me Go Rock ‘N Roll
4. Hotter Than Hell
5. Got To Choose
6. Modern Day Delilah
7. C’mon And Love Me
8. She
9. Guitar Solo
10. Parasite
11. 100,000 Years
12. Eric Singer Drum Solo
13. Bass Solo
14. I Love It Loud
15. Black Diamond
16. Rock And Roll All Nite
17. Shout It Out Loud
18. Lick It Up
19. Cold Gin
20. Love Gun
21. Detroit Rock City

Now for some additional fun. “You Wanted The Best & You Got The Best, The Hottest Band In The World……….KISS!!!”  As documented above the boys were back in town and playing a show at Madison Square Garden. When KISS comes home to New York City it is always bound to be an awesome night and we could not pass up the chance to be a part of the fun. This evening we would not be on “official duty” per se, but surely could not pass up on the chance to let you know what we thought about the night and try to present a few side visuals from the event. recently took some time to go adventuring when the band’s new release Sonic Boom 2 CDs + Live in Buenos Aires DVDand their merchandise took over Wal-Mart stores across the nation.  You can read all about our findings HERE. Our review of the album can be found on the main site or by clicking THIS LINK.

If you’ve never been to a KISS show yet or attended one of their many fan conventions, you probably don’t know that at these events many people dress up in costumes and some of them really manage to pull it off with fantastic results. While at the show in NYC I ran into an old friend from such similar events and he had once again pulled out all the stops. He and a friend dressed as Ace Frehley or Tommy Thayer (depending on how you are looking at the big picture nowadays) are shown with me. I’ve always admired how much work Chris puts into his Gene outfit and only wish he played the bass so we could see him in a cover band doing this against music someday.

Ace Thayer, Ken Pierce, & Chris U. as Gene Simmons
Ace Thayer, Ken Pierce, & Chris U. as Gene Simmons
KISS Klones & Two Lovely KISS-ettes
KISS Klones & Two Lovely KISS-ettes

While talking to Chris and his buddy, two lovely young KISS-ettes approached them and wanted a photo taken as well. We snapped one of them and felt it came out nice. The only thing that would have made it a little better was if one of them had been sporting the Star Child’s face paint instead of Ace’s. As you might have realized there were plenty of other folks doing stuff like this at the show but I really didn’t have enough time to focus on them based on the show getting ready to kick off. To close out I wanted to direct reader attention to a super old photo gallery that I did which finds two members of the band ZO2 (and stars of IFC’s “Z-Rock” program) sporting the KISS uniforms when they were active members of the tribute band KISS Nation. Paulie Z. was Paul Stanley while Joey Cassata was Eric Carr. They have long since moved on to focus on their original band, but you can enjoy this legacy visual by clicking THIS LINK. When it comes down to it, this was actually one of my very first photo shoots.  Enjoy and keep the KISS spirit strong in your own fashion as much as possible.

Official Image for KISS' "Alive 35" Tour

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4 thoughts on “KISS @ Madison Square Garden (10/10/2009)”

  1. I was going to NOT comment because I was going to skip this tour as I have since the tour opening for Aerosmith. However, my wife and sister-in-law wished to see the show. Therefore, as I have decided to NOT give this lineup any cash, I allowed a ticket to be bought for me at the Coliseum, as this was the cheapest ticket available. Many people told me my eyes would be reopened to the glories of KISS. Give the lineup a chance, I was told. I was informed that this lineup is the BEST.

    I gave it a shot. NOT the best, not by a long shot. I have seen every tour since 1975 through 2003. EVERY TOUR. Upstate NY in 75 and 75. NYC in 77, Buffalo in 78 (Found my ticket. $6) 79 at MSG – 2 nights. 1980 at the Palladium. Upstate for CON. 2 nights at Radio City with Accept (and seeing Accept at Lamours as well, both nights) Elder Mini-show at Studio 54 – see page 206 in “KISS – the Early Years. Then there was the solo tours of Ace and Paul and the KISS show at the Warehouse (Lamours.) So I think I can safely say that ALL those shows were better than these.

    This was a ok show. Eric IS good. Tommy is a mediocre guitarist. Black and Blue just wasn’t that good. Tommy can imitate Ace well, and play in his style, but were he not in KISS, the people who think he is so great wouldn’t care about him.

    So for those who don’t care who is in the makeup, have a good time. I like a real band where it does matter who is playing. (And lest someone decide to use the sport analogy, that anyone can be in a team, well that IS TRUE. Team players are replaced, but are not made to make believe they are the other players, and the great players usually have their numbers retired to honor them.

  2. I’m with Tom.

    I’ve been a fan since the beginning, but for me it was about the music. I actually didn’t care about the make up or the show, but because it was a part of what Kiss was, I dug it. However, I don’t dig it today and haven’t since 1996 (the Reunion was pretty neat). I also have not seen this band live since the Farewell Tour, but, like so many, have seen enough fan-related clips on YouTube to realize Kiss ain’t even close to what they once were.

    I happen to like Sonic Boom and the fact that Kiss is simply not promoting it baffles me. Kiss is all about family entertainment. That’s alright if you’re a parent needing some sort of odd validation through your kid. I, at 40 + years of age, have no kids, by choice, and don’t care much for the society that places such an emphasis on lineage. I more or less take the George Carlin route when it comes to others’ kids – Fuck you and your kids; they’re ruining it for the true minority in this country – single, no kids, middle-aged.

    Kiss was 1974-1979. Period. End of sentence.

  3. This was my first Kiss show. Need to be honest I know alot of the old 70’s stuff but was never crazy about it,I’m more of a thrash metal fan. That being said, I can’t compare my experience with die hard Kiss fans. I thought the show was really good. No Ace and Peter, the songs still were tight and the sound was great. These guys (Gene and Paul) are at or around 60 yrs old and will NEVER duplicate the presence or sound of the old shows.

    For a casual fan I enjoyed it alot and I got to bring my son so that was a bonus. You still got fire breathing Gene and over the top screaming from Paul. I would definitely see them again and recommend the show to anyone else who is a die hard or not to get to a concert….these guys can’t do this forever!

  4. I wasn’t around to see KISS when they were at their prime (mid-70s), so I’m not gonna say, oh, they were better back then. Watching them on KISSology is one thing, seeing them live is another thing. I was a the Garden show, and yes, I was upset Ace didn’t play, but what can I do? Tommy held it down, as horrible as it is for KISS fans. I actually like Eric better than Peter only because the guy can play circles around him (Peter wrote the songs no one cared about, anyway). Given the guys’ age, no one does it better – still. It was definitely an amazing show. I saw them again in Pittsburgh and again, they didn’t disappoint. It’s not in their game plan.

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