altOn a bitterly cold night, KISS heated up the BOK Center in a big way.  They proved why they have been billed as "The Hottest Band in the World". 

Now into their late 40’s, 50′ and 60’s they put on a show that establishes a benchmark for younger groups that may never be seen again.  It was plain to see that they take the revenue they make from merchandising, album sales and touring and pour it back into their live shows. 

The night started off in a legendary KISS way, local band Hector Backwoods opened the show.  This band that was voted on by listeners and local music fans through the KMOD website.  A lifetime shot for the three piece rock group.  KMOD DJ’s KC and Promo Dave who host a local indie rock show on Friday nights called DOMK (KMOD backwards) made a list of 10 top local bands and allowed the listener to vote on their favorite.  The winner received the 30 minute opening spot for the KISS concert.

Hector Backwoods made the most of their opportunity, with a rocking set and good stage presence they warmed up the near capacity crowd.  Staying humble and thankful for the opportunity they talked about how huge this was for them and how grateful they were for the shot.  I would recommend getting your hands on their disc if you get a chance.  Self proclaimed as country boys with a redneck rock sound.  Had some hints of The Cult in their sound.  It was entertaining and you couldn’t help but have pride that these guys were some of our own doing what they obviously loved to do on a national scale.  Congrats Hector!!  You deserve it.

If you have never been to a KISS show (as I had not) let me lay some of the ground work for you.  Just getting to the venue you can sense the electricity in the air.  There is an anticipation for this show that I really hadn’t felt before.  One of those feelings that you get when you figure you will never get to see something like that (considering that these guys have been doing this since the mid 70’s) and then suddenly you have a chance and build it up in your head like a small child does Christmas.  There are people running around in KISS makeup, you see fans renditions of Gene, Paul, Tommy Thayer, and Eric Singer (the latter two who have stepped in to take the place of Ace Frehley and Peter Criss).  The BOK even had a face painting area to get made up like your favorite character.  There are fans that have been around a very long time and there is a new breed that are in place, painted and dressed and ready to go.  Lots of kids under 10 years that are in full garb.  Amazing to see and even more of a thrill to see the band interact with them.

During the intermission between acts guitar techs came out to check wireless signal on the guitars and basses and threw picks into the crowd.  One landed close and I scooped it up.  I then turned around and gave it to a little boy who was seated behind me.  I later learned that the youngster had dressed up as Gene Simmons for Halloween and his dad was showing me pictures of his costume and telling me that they had found a way to get them into Gene himself and got a response.  What a great gift for the little fan.

The stage was shrouded in a black curtain with the now famous KISS logo in silver.  Lights give way to drum beats and guitar licks, then the legendary intro starts, "Ladies and gentleman, you wanted the best, you got the best!  The hottest band in the world, KISS"!  The curtain drops and pyro goes into overdrive.  Lots of flames, bombs and fireworks.  From the opener "Deuce" to show closer, and forth encore "Detroit Rock City" they set the place ablaze with thunderous rocking music and at times some campy behavior.  The set list also included 2 songs from their first release in 11 years, "Sonic Boom".  Paul Stanley, never one to shy away from marketing and promotion told the audience to go to " or if you are not too lazy take yourself down to Wal-Mart and buy the album"!  Songs from album were "Modern Day Delilah" and "Say Yeah".

Guitarist, Tommy Thayer, shined during his 4 minute long solo that at one point had sparks shooting from his guitar that also set off pyro bombs on the light rigging.  One of which brought a piece of the structure down. 

Some would say that the band isn’t the same without Frehley and Criss and I would have agreed before this concert.  It is easy to see that what is in place is the product, KISS has become more than a band at this point.  The group has been a revolving door of faces at times, only remaining steady have been Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons.

From my seat on stage right it seemed as though the band was really playing to my side of the arena for some reason.  It later became known that the hit show, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition was in town doing some filming and were featuring KISS along with the Wagstaff family from Gainesville, Florida.  (Tentative air date is March 2010)  The family teaches music lessons to those who can’t afford to take them.  It was clear to see that the band was all in favor of this endeavor and loved hamming it up for the family. 

These guys have a firm grasp on who they are and what they have accomplished in the rock world.  They pretty much invented the rock arena show and spectacle.  Gene with his fire and blood spitting, as well as his prowess on stage, from pointing to and playing to the crowd to his flight from the main stage to the light rigging and  and a smaller stage on top to play "I Love It Loud" to Paul streaking across the arena to a smaller stage at the back of the room to perform "Love Gun" it was truly an amazing show and circus. 

Not sure how much longer these guys will be doing this, but don’t miss it if you get a chance.


Photos: Kevin Pyle