The Air Canada Centre
October 02 2009
Celebrating the release of Sonic Boom, their first album in 11 years, Kiss returned to Toronto for their first show here since 2000's ahem, "Farewell Tour". This concert was also notable for being the T.O. debut for guitarist Tommy Thayer who along with drummer Eric Singer have replaced founding members Ace Frehley and Peter Criss, respectfully.
Unfortunately, the show got off to a rocky start when during the last moments of the opening song "King Of The Nighttime World" there was a power shortage causing all instruments to suddenly cut out. In front of a bewildered crowd of confused fans lead vocalist Paul Stanley shouted inaudibly into an obviously dead microphone. The band then left the stage for approximately ten minutes while the technical problems were dealt with, then returned to restart the show with "Duece" although the break in momentum was devastating.
Relative new guy Thayer faithfully replicated Frehley's signature guitar parts well but could not offer any personality of his own. Strangely he occasionally even stumbled around in simulation of Ace's vintage inebriated state. Also odd was the "new" costume he wore which was really just a pastiche of elements from past Frehley outfits.
But the real elephant in the room was Paul Stanley. The front man looked extremely weary and vocally he simply cannot perform at the level of an arena act. For song after song he insisted on reaching for high notes obviously no longer within his grasp with painful results. Songs like "Modern Day Delilah" (the lone track played from the new album, so much for promoting the recent product!), "I Stole Your Love", "100,000 Years" and "Detroit Rock City" all suffered greatly from Stanley's agonizing screeching.
Also odd was how in general out of sorts Stanley seemed to be. The song "Hotter Than Hell" ended with Gene Simmons' famous fire breathing stunt, after which Stanley yelled out the song title "Firehouse" which had not been played. When introducing "Rock And Roll All Nite" he seemed to get lost and forgot what he was trying to say. His insistence on introducing almost every song was also a bit perplexing especially when songs were mentioned as being off of either Alive! or Alive II as if no studio versions exist. He also brought up the supposed rivalry between Toronto and Montreal as he often does at T.O. concerts (and probably Montreal shows too) at least since 1998.
Then there was the portion of the show where he explained how encores work, saying that the band were going to perform the longest encores we had ever seen. At six songs that may have actually been true but blatantly obvious was that to do this, they actually just shortened the main set of the show to just thirteen tunes.
There was no doubt that the majority of fans present enjoyed the bombast and spectacle of the live KISS show, that's always been part of the draw. But the musical aspect is suffering. Considering that both Stanley and Simmons have been going on for years about how much Frehley and Criss were musical liabilities not being able to perform properly, its ironic justice that now the weakest link is Paul Stanley himself.
But it seems that no one in the KISS camp wants to address this fact.
And as long as the money rolls in, they most likely won't.
Robert Lawson 2009
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