July 26 2013
For their third show at the Molson Amphitheater in four years, KISS brought the Monster tour (named after their 20th album, released in October of 2012) to Toronto.
The 2013 tour is notable for two reasons. First, the band are performing with a completely new stage set-up incorporating a moving lighting rig in the shape of a gargantuan mechanical spider. Also of note is the fact that this leg of the tour is a nineteen date coast-to-coast Canadian summer trek including major markets and smaller towns along the way (well, eighteen dates after a flood-related cancellation in Calgary).
The two-hour show opened in typically dramatic fashion. With the crunch of 1998's "Psycho Circus" pounding through the speakers, the three front men stood atop the automated arachnid that then descended to the stage allowing the members to hop off.
Front man Paul Stanley appeared to be in a great mood and vocally stronger than he has been in awhile although the a cappella intro to "Heaven's On Fire" still gave him trouble. As usual, he zip-lined to a smaller stage halfway back in the venue to perform "Love Gun" and even stayed there for the beginning of the next song "Black Diamond" (playing his Ibanez cracked mirror guitar for the first time on stage in 16 years!). After that, Stanley talked a bit about his history with Toronto (he was the lead in the 1999 production of Phantom Of The Opera) and mentioned the band's early T.O. appearance at the old Victory Theatre (Sept 14 1974, incidentally their Toronto debut was opening for The New York Dolls at Massey Hall on June 15 of that same year).
Guitarist Tommy Thayer did about half of Ace Frehley's signature song "Shock Me" then launched seamlessly into his own excellant "Outta This World" from Monster, given extra punch live than on the album.
Gene Simmons did his still impressive fire-breathing stunt at the end of "War Machine" and later, his dramatic blood dripping routine before flying up to the top of the lighting rig to perform "God Of Thunder". The sight of Simmons in mid-air makes for a gripping visual image and many in the crowd tried to quickly take photos of the demon's sinister ascension.
The eighteen song set-list for the Canadian tour is largely stationary. A mere two tracks from the new album, one from 2009's Sonic Boom release and then a battery of classics. The one change up in Toronto was "Calling Dr Love" replacing "Duece" eighth in the set. For the grand finale of "Rock And Roll All Nite" the group unloaded massive explosions, colourful fireworks and tons of confetti over the crowd who were thrilled to be in the middle of it all.
Robert Lawson 2013