red lights


The best bad band in the business

Tweeter Center
Tinley Park, IL
July 9, 2004
Kiss Kiss Kiss

Story and Photos By Andy Argyrakis

They wear more make-up than Britney, Jessica and Christina combined, have higher maintenance costumes Madonna and have said farewell forever more times than Cher. There's also a slew of pyrotechnics, smoke and lights, lots of tongues sticking out, fire breathing and even moments of fake blood spitting. Yes, much of what makes Kiss so popular is their string of gimmicks, that hasn't slowed down one bit in time, but actually seems to elevate with each time they hit the road. Even though this year, like the many pledged before, is rumored to be one of their last tours (yeah right) Kiss still pulled out every trick in their bag of arena rock tactics, at times blowing away the senses, but often bordering on sheer comedy.
Much of the band's problem with this regularly regurgitated greatest hits set was its lack of anything outside the formula. Kiss has coasted by for decades on the "don't fix what isn't broken" mentality, and as a result, haven't developed any viable new material, nor done much to clean up their playing form or relatively sloppy style. During the lighter waver "God Gave Rock & Roll To You," bassist/vocalist Gene Simmons wailed painfully off key while his backers stumbled over the delicate arrangements in favor of striking several patriotic poses for adoring observers. The grandiose spectacle throughout jock rockers like "Detroit Rock City" and "Love Gun" overshadowed all attempts at skillful soloing and shredding. The band also didn't bother paying attention to precision on "Rock and Roll All Nite," which considering it's always been the most popular catalogue cut, didn't make a difference to fans. If anything, they turned the Tweeter into an overcrowded and obnoxious sports bar belting out a congregational karaoke session just prior to last call. And what could be said about "I Was Made For Lovin' You" aside from that fact that disco never did and never will suite Kiss' style manual, no matter how irreverent and campy it may be.
Slogging Kiss from a distance is certainly easy to do, but to members' credit, they had every audience member from the front row to the last lawn seat captivated by their outrageous pandering. Somehow, they were able to take mediocre talent with average song structures and combine them with a multi-million dollar smoke and mirrors display that worked in their favor. Much scarier is the fact that even listeners of more astute musical tastes were sure to know some, if not the majority of tunes presented throughout the evening, reiterating these guys have a surprisingly crowded stable of hits. And despite not aging gracefully or with the most seasoned approach, those elements allow Kiss to press on, bad as they may be, as one of the biggest money makers in the business.

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