KISS ROCKS NASHVILLE ALL NIGHT
By Dave Paulson
If you go see a major music artist in concert at an arena these days, there’s a good chance you’ll also see some fireworks. Plenty of acts have at least a few of them shoot off at the end of their show, to give their fans one last spectacle before they head home.
And then there’s KISS.
KISS opens their show with fireworks. Tons of them. Flames and fog, too – they spew out from all sides of the stage as the band descends from the ceiling, riding a massive, spider-shaped lighting rig.
The antics only got more over-the-top from there during KISS’ concert at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena on Wednesday, and that’s exactly what their longtime fans in Music City expected.
“We’ve been coming to Nashville longer than some of you have been alive,” guitarist/vocalist Paul Stanley told them, after recalling past gigs at Municipal Auditorium and the long-gone Muther’s Music Emporium.
It’s a momentous year in the costumed rock band’s history. Their current co-headlining tour with Def Leppard is marking their 40th anniversary, and in April, they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame — after fans spent more than a decade campaigning on their behalf.
“You made it happen,” Stanley told his Nashville audience on Wednesday. He also noted that the city had come a long way since their first visits, too. Nashville may be famed for its country music, he said, but “this may well be the capital of rock and roll music in the United States of America.”
For all the worry that KISS generated among concerned parents in the ’70s, members of the “KISS Army” apparently grew up to be well-adjusted adults – some with young recruits of their own. According to recent headlines, you’d find a rowdier crowd at a Luke Bryan show than the group assembled at Bridgestone on Wednesday.
Before the show, several generations of fans waited patiently in the lobby to get their faces painted in the style of their favorite KISS members, and when charitable partners Wounded Warrior Project presented a mortgage free-home to a retired sergeant, a spontaneous chant of “U.S.A.!” broke out in the audience. Halfway through KISS’ set, Stanley even polled the crowd about their faith: “How many of you like to pray to God? I pray.”
Of course, that came after his bandmate Gene Simmons spat fake blood all over his leather outfit and “flew” to the ceiling while spreading his demon wings. It’s a move he pulled at the band’s last stop at the arena in 2009, as was Stanley’s wire ride over the audience to perform on a small stage on the other side of the arena.
But on the other hand, their lifelong fans wouldn’t expect anything different. In the words of the band’s trademark stage introduction – they wanted “the best,” and they got “the best.” And as Stanley, Simmons and company said goodnight with the band’s signature tune, “Rock and Roll All Nite,” those fans also got one last deafening blast of fireworks, fog and confetti.