Archive for Tommy Thayer

Live: KISS, Houston

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on March 16, 2011 by 30daysout

Yeah, we had cheap seats for KISS - but it didn't matter

In order to get the idea of this Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, you have to imagine everything done big, like over the top. They have dudes on bucking broncos and wild jumping bulls, and sweet young things in cowboy hats riding horses around barrels too.

But in Houston it’s BIG – they used to have the Rodeo in the Astrodome, now it’s in the even bigger Reliant Stadium. The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo helps thousands of kids go to school each year, but it also is very interested in setting records for humongous-ness too. I remember when Elvis Presley set an attendance record in 1974 or so, then other people broke it every year – back when the Rodeo was in the old Astrodome.

So anyway, they have all kinds of musical entertainment, mostly country acts, but this year they featured KISS. The kabuki-faced rockers love this kinda shit, where records seem to be broken every night, so it’s only natural they play the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. They drag out this big stage in the dirt on the floor of Reliant Stadium right after the chuck wagon races (!), then the performers come out in little golf carts and play on this stage that turns ever so slowly so everyone in the huge stadium gets a good look.

Paul Stanley works the big screens in Houston's Reliant Stadium

Kicking off with “Modern Day Delilah,” KISS wasn’t nearly as loud as I thought they’d be … but the pyrotechnics were pretty good. Paul Stanley addressed the crowd most of the time, in this high shrieky voice that seemed to suggest he didn’t know the difference between his singing and his talking voice. The band seemed to hit the high points of its catalog, with “Calling Dr. Love” and “I Was Made For Loving You” being the early highlights.  You know “Detroit Rock City” and “Deuce” were on the set list!

We were way up in the nosebleed region of Reliant Stadium, but the high-def screens positioned above the band caught every little detail, like Stanley’s shameless mugging for the cameras and (more than once) the long drip of drool off Gene Simmons’ salaciously long snake-flickering tongue. A shout-out here to guitarist Tommy Thayer, whose lead guitar work was impeccable, and drummer Eric Singer, who good naturedly stood up on his drum stool when he had to sing “Beth,” the ballad written and sung by long-departed KISS drummer Peter Criss.

“Lick It Up,” from the early 1980s, featured thumping synthesizers that threatened to veer into the Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” and maybe they were just paying homage to that classic. But after that song Stanley invited a couple of military veterans on stage and talked about the many heroes in uniform overseas “getting the homecoming they deserve” before he led the crowd in a recital of the Pledge of Allegiance. It was a stirring bit of patriotism, and during it Stanley revealed that KISS are donating one dollar from every ticket sold to wounded veterans.

Then it was right into the closer, “Rock and Roll All Nite,” and KISS was out – the crowd numbered around 72,000 so it was a good night for them.  Paul Stanley promised they’d be back, and despite all of the “farewell” tours they’ve had recently, I wouldn’t be surprised.  Long live KISS!

KISS official website

Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo official website

One more, because I shot a lot of pictures from our nosebleed seats for some reason.

Review: “Sonic Boom,” KISS

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , on October 6, 2009 by 30daysout

Kiss - Sonic Boom -  Front

I don’t know what it is with these Wal-Mart exclusive deals – bands like Journey and Foreigner, and now KISS, have put out brand-new albums at the world’s largest retailers and they aren’t bad.  Sonic Boom, available today at a Wal-Mart near you, is the first album of new material from KISS in over a decade.  I listened with the ear of a KISS fan (as I used to be years ago; or is it once a KISS fan, always a KISS fan?) and Sonic Boom is a fairly strong addition to the KISS library.

Produced by Paul Stanley and with most songs written by Stanley and Gene Simmons, the album is certainly a throwback to the band’s peak sound (around Destroyer or Alive) with anthems like Stanley’s “Never Enough” or Simmons’ “Hot and Cold” (containing the line “If it’s too loud, you’re too old”).  Actually Stanley’s lyrics are mostly “let’s party hearty” while Simmons takes care of the “let’s screw” department, and they don’t disappoint.  “Say Yeah,” by Stanley, is another one to turn up the volume for.  Drummer Eric Singer gets a vocal showcase (“All For The Glory”) as does lead guitarist Tommy Thayer (“When Lightning Strikes”), which is probably a first for a KISS album.

So we have here another 1970s-1980s-era rock band, concert hall favorites, producing a collection of new material that doesn’t pale next to the work from their “classic” period.  Members of Journey, Foreigner and now KISS know exactly who their audience is, and the formula they used to become superstars back in the day – that sensibility seems to be a perfect fit for the average Wal-Mart shopper.  Although I suspect that each of these bands have earned thousands of brand-new fans with these Wal-Mart packages.  So don’t be a snob – get over to your neighborhood Wal-Mart and pick up the new KISS.  In addition to the new CD, there’s a second disc of re-recorded greatest hits and a DVD of a live KISS concert.  All for 12 bucks!

MP3: “Modern Day Delilah”

KISS official website