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Concert Reviews:
Kiss Shouts Detroit Love Out Loud At Tour Opener
 

By GARY GRAFF
Of the Oakland Press

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DETROIT -- Detroit got Kissed on Friday night (Sept. 25) -- hard, full, on the lips and passionately.

Even though the band originally hails from New York, the love affair between Kiss and the Motor City runs nearly as deep as the city's attachment to its own heroes such as Bob Seger and Kid Rock, the latter of whom was in attendance and acknowledged by Kiss' Paul Stanley. The theatrically minded group was headlining in this town while it was opening for other bands elsewhere, and it could fill Cobo Arena -- where it recorded its breakthrough 1975 "Alive!" album -- when it was merely playing theaters in other cities.

So the weekend's return to "Detroit Rock City," and to Cobo, to open the latest leg of the Kiss Alive 35 tour ranked as a bona fide civic-cultural event of genuine magnitude and gravity. Kiss came "home," as Stanley told the packed-to-the-roof Cobo crowd on Friday, and celebrated two hours and 20 minutes of loud and (literally) explosive rock that made the big show feel like something akin to a large and rowdy family gathering.

And you couldn't ask for a better Detroit booster, especially during these hard economic times, than Stanley, who laced his between-song raps with more affirmations than a city council candidate. He promised a return to better times and proclaimed "one of the greatest cities in the United States of America with the highest rate of unemployment...that's a sin." He paid props to Seger, Rock and other homegrown musicians, noting "there is something about Michigan that just puts rock 'n' roll in the blood." He dubbed the scheduled-for-demolition Cobo "our beloved church of rock 'n' roll" and noted that "when we heard they were gonna tear it down, we said, 'Not without us coming back!' "

It was a trip back to the future, too. Ostensibly celebrating the 35th anniversary of its first two albums, Kiss dedicated its main set on Friday to "Alive!," playing all but two of the album's 16 songs ("Firehouse" and "Rock Bottom" were the excerpts) in nearly the same running order, altering it slightly to close with "Rock and Roll All Nite." "Deuce" brought the group on stage amidst booming pyrotechnics, and the set-up brought back deep cuts such as "Got to Choose," "Nothin' to Lose," "Parasite" and "Watchin' You," much to the delight of the Kiss Army.

Sans "Firehouse," meanwhile, Gene Simmons did his fire-breathing act during "Hotter Than Hell," while drummer Eric Singer and guitarist Tommy Thayer took their turns for extended solos. Stanley led the crowd in an extended call-and-response during "100,000 Years," and hydraulic platforms lofted the four musicians skyward amidst more pyrotechnics and a confetti shower during "Rock and Roll All Nite."

The encore focused on post-"Alive!" Kiss favorites such as "Shout It Out Loud," a rendition of "Lick it Up" that included a bit of the Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again" and "I Love it Loud" with a blood-spewing Simmons hoisted above the lighting rig. Kiss delivered the first public performance of "Modern Day Delilah," the first single from the new "Sonic Boom" album that comes out Oct. 6 (the group shot a video for the song on Thursday (Sept. 24) at Cobo) before Stanley "flew" over the crowd to sing "Love Gun" on a satellite stage by the sound board and came back to finish with, appropriately, "Detroit Rock City."

It was, simply put, a big night, something more profound than just another sold-out rock show. There are plenty of initiatives afoot these days to boost Detroit's civic spirit, but few will do it better than these four guys in makeup and garish costumes did on Friday.

Tickets, priced $25-$128, are still available for Saturday's (Sept. 26) Kiss show. Call (313) 471-6611 or visit www.olympiaentertainment.com.



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