Published Jul 13, 2016For younger audiences, experiencing a live Kiss concert for the first time is like stepping into a time machine and going back to the late 1970s, when the New York-based glam-shock-rockers' career soared to the pinnacle of rock'n'roll prestige. A Kiss show perfectly encapsulates the zeitgeist of that era, giving older generations of fans a chance to relive and relish the essence of their youth.
The infamously gaudy quartet's testosterone-fuelled performance at Edmonton's Rexall Place on July 12 was nothing short of a Grand Guignol spectacle of explosive pyrotechnics, psychedelic optics and Kiss's signature boisterous bombast. By the time the band hit the stage, the arena was packed from top to bottom in a sea of Kiss garb-clad zealots spanning at least four generations, appropriately saluting the revered pioneers of glam-shock with metal horns and fists held high in the air.
Founding members Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons took the reins at centre stage as the band launched full speed into their set with energetic anthem "Detroit Rock City." The crowd roared with enthusiasm, screaming along and appropriately "losing their minds" (albeit not in Detroit) over the magnificent spectacle that had begun. Kiss then slowed things down as they grooved into their suitably scheduled sophomore track, "Deuce."
Of noteworthy appeal was the band's focus on switching things up by alternating between groovier, downtempo tracks such as "Flaming Youth," "God of Thunder" and "War Machine," and faster, more rambunctious fan favourites like "Shout it Out Loud" and "Love Gun," which kept the pacing of the show consistent, and the crowd engaged.
The appropriately timed detonation of Kiss's signature elaborate pyrotechnics and polychromatic laser show hypnotized the audience as members of the band frolicked wildly around the stage in their very own rock'n'roll circus sideshow. Ziplines ran parallel from the stage to two smaller raised platforms — one of which was situated above the crowd on the other end of the floor seating area, and another almost perpendicular to the stage.
As Kiss wrapped up an outstanding performance of "Flaming Youth," the arena grew shrouded in ominous darkness. Strapped into a harness attached to the zip-line leading up to the small platform perpendicular to the stage, legendary bass player (the man behind "the tongue") Gene Simmons flew upwards to the platform like a creature of the night. Dim crimson lights bled through the elaborately assembled lighting fixtures as Simmons tore into a bass solo, with fake blood pouring from his mouth in horrific splendour. The audience gazed on in astonishment.
Following Simmons' exceptional, shocking showmanship, the band ripped into the second half of their set with "God of Thunder," "Psycho Circus" and "Shock Me," which segued into a crushing guitar solo by lead guitarist Tommy Thayer, who boasted an other-worldly level of shred-panache. After finishing up a satiating, comprehensive set list of 15 tracks, KISS returned to the stage to deliver an encore of four more songs, garnished nicely by a well-received dose of Canadian patriotic pride in a beautiful rendition of "O Canada," sung by Major John Kim of the Canadian Armed Forces.
Predictably, the show concluded on a high note as Kiss blasted into "Rock and Roll All Nite." The spectacle of fire and smoke permeated the air, and white confetti rained down over a jubilant crowd that wished nothing more than for the night never to end.