KISS / Shinedown Save-on-Foods Memorial Arena, Victoria BC, July 5

KISS / Shinedown Save-on-Foods Memorial Arena, Victoria BC, July 5
Photo: Jason Schreurs
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On a night that totally, completely belonged to rock monsters KISS, who were launching their Canadian tour, openers Shinedown did an admirable job of getting the KISS army in attendance primed for the main attraction. Kind of a sub-quasi-Theory of a Deadman (which puts them how many levels below Nickelback?), the Florida four-piece had bounds of energy and an almost impeccable sound for an opening act. Sure, their songs were about as memorable as a Ford truck commercial, but in that hard rock moment they sounded pretty damn good.

KISS opened their set, literally, with a bang, setting the stage for a butt-load of pyrotechnics throughout the night. But loud explosions were only the beginning of a stage show that answers to no one: the four members of the notorious rock band were lifted high above the audience on hydraulics, cables and, in the case of vocalist/guitarist Paul Stanley, some sort of flamboyant trapeze. KISS were here to rock and bass player/bat demon/star Gene Simmons was the ringleader, deep baritone booming and pervy tongue nearly lapping out to the front row.

Spitting blood and blowing fire, Simmons also spent most of the night terrorizing those lame enough to sit down to get up off their asses and rock out (or else). Simmons numbers such as "I Love It Loud," "God of Thunder" and "War Machine" were highlights for his over-the-top, showboating and still-scary-after-all-these-years stage persona, but felt as though they limped along like children's songs gone the way of The Exorcist. Meanwhile, Stanley's offerings, including '80s favourites "Heaven's on Fire" and "Lick It Up" ("Yeah, you know what I'm talkin' about," he teased the female audience contingent) fared a lot better in the groove department.

Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer, relative newcomers to the KISS canon, proved they are way more than face-painted imposters, delivering a guitar/drum solo that would have done the original Space and Cat Men proud. Besides, no one really wants to see Ace Frehley and Peter Criss on stage anymore, do they?

By the time KISS came out for their three-song encore of "Detroit Rock City," "I Was Made for Lovin' You" and "Black Diamond," it was clear the band were in a comfort zone of mongoloid glam rock, all gussied up with really no place musical to go. But that's what everyone in the Victoria arena came for on this night, and it's precisely what they got. Big, loud, stupid, really stupid rock and roll. It's what KISS do best, and it's why we love them.