Say/think what you will about Kiss, especially long-time targets Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons, but there’s no denying that the band still puts on one hell of a performance and after 42 years still have the ability to sell out venues across the globe and keep adding to their Kiss Army.
The Freedom to Rock Tour is hitting cities the band hasn’t played in 10+ years or, in some case ever. Last week, after a long hiatus, they returned to Pennsylvania to play The Great Allentown Fair and were greeted by about 8000 fans who were ready to rock and roll all night. I arrived early to meet a friend, grab some drinks and enjoy the fair surroundings for a couple of hours. In all honesty the Allentown Fair seemed to be a lot more about seeing Kiss then eating carnival food or getting on rides so after about an hour the fair got old and I, like everyone else, was ready for Kiss.
Actually I was ready for The Dead Daisies who opened the show but unfortunately, due to some delays, this coincided with the Kiss meet & greet. Although I have met them all over the years, I will never miss a chance to get that picture.
The sun was down and the Kiss Kabuki curtain was half up while the visibly excited crowd awaited the big reveal. Unfortunately, wind was a bit of a challenge so they had all of us photographers head out of the pit before bringing the curtain up…
On a personal note, the second Kiss starts playing it’s like being 5 years old all over again; even though we’re all adults, there’s an excitement that comes over us (Kiss fans). The funny part is I have seen Kiss tons of times and have had the pleasure of spending time with them over the years but every single show I am still transported back to my childhood.
I grew up loving music, but the first band I EVER called my own, that I laid claim to in a house filled with oldies, The Beatles, Billy Joel, The Eagles, and many more of that type of artist was Kiss. Sure, back then they were called Satan worshippers, a blight on society, demonic influences on the younger generation, but to me they were the greatest band in the world (‘til I discovered Rush at 8) and 40+ years later they are music legends.
After a couple of songs Paul Stanley addressed the crowd with “There are no singers singing off stage. There’s no band playing off stage. There’s no pre-recorded music and no lip-synching, and there’s no dancers humping each other on stage. We are a rock ‘n’ roll band, and that’s what you deserve.” He later pointed out “we’ve been coming to Allentown so long, some of you weren’t born.” And there’s no question that he’s right since the crowd ranged in age from about 5 to 70. It didn’t matter how old you were you were seeing Kiss and that was all that mattered to these people; me too!
With well over 200 songs in their catalog to choose from, Kiss chose, much to the crowd’s delight, to stick to their hits. Going with chart toppers like “Deuce,” “Shout it out Loud,” “Do You Love Me” and “Lick it Up,” they energized and entertained the audience. As is true with most tours, there are typically a few choices that I find interesting some good, some not so much and in this set, once again, they chose to play “War Machine” from the nearly forgotten Creatures of the Night album and “Psycho Circus” from the album of the same name. “I Love It Loud,” with Gene Simmons clapping and shouting, “Sing it!” was a highlight, and of course no show would be complete without Gene breathing fire or blood-spitting bass solo followed by a flight up to the rafters for “God of Thunder.”
Most of what happens at any given rock show, of this level, is choreographed so sometimes there are moments that happen that make a show different. Allentown received one of those moments when Paul brought a little girl up onto the stage to play guitar with him. She wasn’t actually playing but Paul had the guitar in front of her, moving her hands, and he definitely seemed to be enjoying time with a next generation Kiss fan.
The crowd ate up every moment and as the show was winding down Paul asked them to invite him out to a small stage near the sound board. Paul told them if they made enough noise he’d come out but if not he’d just stay on the stage and keep playing. With a roar of the crowd, Paul was on his zip line flying out over the audience as every one of us joined him in singing “Love Gun.” The set ended with “Black Diamond” as he zipped back.
The band closed out the night with an encore of “Beth,” “The Star Spangled Banner” and of course it always ends with their anthem, “Rock and Roll All Night.”
Although this set was very similar to their last tour there’s rarely anything negative to be said of a Kiss show. I mean I have seen this band many many times and I could say they sound better at some shows/tours then others but the reality is that Paul and Gene know what they are doing and they give, arguably, the most loyal in the world, what they want. Do the diehards want to see other sets, of course, or “An Evening With Kiss” where they play an acoustic set then a regular set or just 3 hours of show, of course but these days they reserve those types of things for the Kiss Kruise which, by the way, truly is the ultimate Kiss vacation.
Although I am no longer the wide-eyed, obsessed Kiss fan that I was as a child, that child is still in me, and for both of us, this was another great Kiss show. The whole set is below and if you want a night of old school rock and roll from a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band then go check out Kiss on their Freedom to Rock Tour.
Shout It Out Loud
Do You Love Me
I Love It Loud
God of Thunder
The Star-Spangled Banner
Rock and Roll All Nite
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