Steven Tyler hugs Brad Whitford
Story by Sheldon BurrowJoining forces as co-headliners, 70s rock icons Aerosmith and KISS dusted off their collective catalogs and made their stop at Alpine Valley Music Theatre last Saturday night. The KISS army were ever present , decked out in enough make-up and KISS wear to make an entire Cirque du Soleil troop smear their lipstick with drool. They were here to see their powerful rock 'n' roll mimes carry out their special brand of circus of the absurd. With enough pyrotechnics to make NASA proud, KISS stormed the stage like demented clowns at a John Wayne Gacy training seminar. Gene Simmons, a self-proclaimed marketing mastermind, in full disguise with his tight leather studded jumpsuit topped off with flapping bat wings, forced down the hype like a death row con choking on his last meal.
Photos by Phil Bonyata
But, hey their appeal has never been in their simple and limited lyrics or their 1-2-3 chord progressions they like to call rock 'n' roll. Their appeal is rooted in how they've taken P.T. Barnum's flair for showmanship and layered it on top of the simple chords and choruses and beat their over-the-top drum without apologies. Kicking out the three chord dragster race, Simmons beat his bass sneeringly as Paul Stanley's (his physique still resembling a 70s porn star) vocals were still surprisingly sharp even though the band chose a less than desirable selection from their catalog. "Beth" and "Rock and Roll All Nite" among them. The smoke, fire and resounding explosions did however, keep the Detroit Rock City circus rolling in the hills of Southeast Wisconsin.
With the war half over the KISS army surrendered the night to the still drug free Toxic Twins. Blasting out of the gates the band blended a dynamic mix of 70s to 90s favorites, the energetic and ageless members of Aerosmith used up their entire horizon. Joe Perry's grinding guitar riffs on "Same Old Song and Dance" and "Love in an Elevator" and backed by the ever flowing Steven Tyler's inimitable shrieking vocals that breathed new life into the old favorites. They acted like guides that paved a reliable path for the rest of the band to follow. On the sexy "Pink" and "Jaded" the band pulled the ballads out of the syrup and let the stickiness hold Tyler's wailings in the air.
25 minutes into the set the floor blackened as the entire stage revolved into a mellow club style setting that begged for a more relaxed blues club atmosphere. A catwalk jutting out 30 yards into the belly of the amphitheater served as Tyler's personal platform with forced air floating his scarves into the night air. The pace quickened once again as the mainstage twirled back into view and gave the audience a chance to look and listen to the "true" Aerosmith classics like "Sweet Emotion," "Walk This Way" and "Dream On."
A thunderous finale came as exploding cannons of confetti filled half of the arena creating an early September blizzard and a fitting end to some new summertime memories.
More Aerosmith / KISS Photos!
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