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Let it ride

United Center
Chicago, IL
November 6, 2009

Story and photos by Rob Grabowski

Halloween was extended another week this year as the unmistakeable rock group KISS brought their bombastic Alive 35 Tour with opening act Buckcherry to the United Center in Chicago last Friday night. Wearing full make-up and costumes, Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley are the only two original members remaining with guitarist Tommy Thayer and drummer Eric Singer rounding out the quartet. KISS still delivers an over-the- top stage show full of pyrotechnics, with a mass array of lights set against an enormous video screen. The music seems to be centered in the background while their influential stage show is always at the forefront. They thrust themselves squarely upon the near capacity crowd with the frayed classics "Deuce" and "Strutter."

With a catalog spanning 35 years, they remain a greatest hits band and deliver a majority of early hits from the original make-up era. Since Ace Frehley no longer sports the spaceman outfit, Tommy Thayer does an admirable job singing "Shock Me." KISS does have a new CD, Sonic Boom, from which they played the radio friendly, "Modern Day Delilah" to a warm reception. "Black Diamond," with Singer in the catman outfit on vocals, and "Rock and Roll All Night" finished out the set with an encore consisting of "Shout It Out Loud," "Lick It Up," "Love Gun" that saw Stanley fly to a stage in the back of the crowd, and the seminal classic "Detroit Rock City."

While some of the magic is missing without Peter Criss and Ace Frehley in the band, Singer and Thayer really add a new dimension to the group with their own distinct musical offerings. Thayer's soloing and power chords are like tinsel on a Christmas tree and Singer's drumming style and background vocals really set a solid rhythm that is the glue holding it all together. The flamboyant Paul Stanley, who has never sounded better vocally, and Gene Simmons is the ring leader with his fire breathing and blood spewing antics. Going to a KISS concert has become a right of passage from the looks of the ages in the audience. A family outing seemed to be more accurate than the teenage rebellion from which they originated. The same kids who were listening to KISS back in the '70s and '80s are now able to bring their kids to see what their parents did at their age much like a father taking his son to a baseball game to cheer for his favorite team.

After 35 years KISS shows no signs of slowing down. As long as they keep putting on the seven inch heels and legendary stage show with a musical onslaught of hits, fans of all ages will come to rock and roll all night.

Chicago Set list:
1. Deuce
2. Strutter
3. Let Me Go (Rock and Roll)
4. Hotter Than Hell
5. Shock Me
6. Calling Dr. Love
7. Modern Day Delilah
8. Cold Gin
9. Parasite
10. 100,000 Years
11. I Love it Loud
12. Black Diamond
13. Rock and Roll All Night


14. Shout It Out Loud
15. Lick It Up
16. Love Gun
17. Detroit Rock City

Related articles:

KISS (Summerfest 2009) - Photo Gallery - Milwaukee, WI - July 2009
KISS - Concert review - Tinley Park, IL - July 2004
Aerosmith / KISS - Concert review - East Troy, WI - Sept. 2003
KISS - Concert review - Madison, WI - Dec. 1998
Kiss - Psycho Circus - Album review


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