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Photos by Nic Pouliot.
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KISS at the Molson Amphitheatre, Friday, July 26. Rating: NNNN
Things you learn while wearing KISS face paint to one of their concerts: you will not be served beer, no matter how far over the legal drinking age you are; you might have trouble picking up your media accreditation; you will pose for pictures with strangers and be high-fived by randoms who would not normally give you the time of day.
So, you'll have the best time. The show is a two-hour spectacle of pyrotechnics, moving stage sets, silver-and-black makeup and costumes, fire and loud, workmanlike rock and roll. In support of their 2012 Monster album, which they already brought to Toronto last year, the four raven-haired rock icons showed no signs of age, apathy or wear and tear.
This is especially true of Paul Stanley, still a phenomenal showman at 61. He shimmied in his silver-tasselled platform boots and glittery spandex, valiantly attempted the high notes, played guitar on his back and flew above us in a harness that landed him on a mid-crowd platform, where he delivered a brief solo set while bathed in white light.
The show is full of catch-your-breath breaks but Stanley kept things moving, engaging us between songs in his comically thick Queens accent. It didn't always work out. An attempt to have us shout the name of 2009 album Sonic Boom fell embarrassingly flat, and even he couldn't prevent the dips in interest that came whenever the set list switched to newer material.
Lead guitarist Tommy Thayer makes a fine Ace, drummer Eric Singer shone during Black Diamond, and Gene Simmons delivered a creepy, bloody solo bass interlude that made great use of grainy black-and-white projections on the jumbo screens. (KISS still has the ability to frighten.) It led seamlessly into the 1983 hit Lick It Up, from their makeup-free years.
But nothing could touch the off-the-hook energy that came during Detroit Rock City (pure bliss hearing those iconic guitarmonies live!), I Was Made For Loving You and, of course, Rock And Roll All Nite. The latter was a bombastic confetti-filled finale that left everybody amped and happy. KISS are the masters of throwing a party, and everyone really should partake at least once in their lives.