By Dustin Schoof
The Express-Times The Express-Times
Kiss band members Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley and Tommy Thayer perform Wednesday night at Mountain Laurel Pocono Mountains Performing Arts Center in Bushkill, Pa.
Hard rock legends Kiss kicked off the first concert at the recently re-opened and revamped Mountain Laurel Pocono Mountains Performing Center in style on Wednesday night; with more pyrotechnics, bombast and fireworks than a Fourth of July celebration.
The makeup-clad quartet opened with "Modern Day Delilah," the first single off their 2009 studio album "Sonic Boom," following it up with a one-two punch of "Cold Gin" and "Let Me Go, Rock 'n' Roll." The latter allowed bassist/singer Gene Simmons, wagging his famous and fully extended tongue in the air, to flex his muscles for a brief rhythmic solo.
The classic Kiss stage presentation has not changed much since the band's mid-1970s heyday. However, age proved to be a factor working against the group.
Singer/rhythm guitarist Paul Stanley's high-pitched yelp strained to hit many of the notes he once belted out with ease, most notably on "Firehouse."Stanley later surprised the crowd by playing the opening riff to Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven" before the rest of the band joined him on stage for raucous rendition of "Black Diamond."
The band managed to hit their familiar marks throughout the night, such as Simmons' fire-breathing stunt during the final notes of "Firehouse." Later, Simmons, engulfed in dense fog and fully immersed in his "Demon" persona, spat fake blood before thumping the intro to "God of Thunder."
Lead guitarist Tommy Thayer, who replaced original Spaceman Ace Frehley in 2002, mimicked many of Frehley's classic solos and stage mannerisms to a "T." Thayer also took over lead vocals on "Shock Me," breaking out Frehley's famous rocket-guitar trick, which drew roaring applause from the crowd -- although it was surreal to see someone else on stage in Frehley's Spaceman regalia playing the licks and singing the songs that made him a guitar icon.
Drummer Eric Singer, decked out in the Catman get-up made famous by original Kiss drummer Peter Criss, demonstrated impressive skills behind the kit; twirling his drumsticks while pounding out intense fills with precision timing and execution.
In typical Kiss fashion, those in attendance were given plenty of bang for their buck, though at times it seemed as if the band was simply going through the motions. They offered little if no surprise in the way of song choices. Following a spin through "Detroit Rock City," the group returned on stage for a four-song encore of "Beth" (with Singer on lead vocals), "Lick It Up," "Shout It Out Loud" and, of course, "Rock and Roll All Nite."
But Kiss has always been about the spectacle of the live concert experience. And that is exactly what they gave members of the Kiss Army who showed up to express their appreciation for their rock 'n' roll heroes.
"Modern Day Delilah"
"Let Me Go, Rock 'n' Roll"
"Do You Love Me"
"Calling Dr. Love"
"I Love It Loud"
"God of Thunder"
"Detroit Rock City"
"Lick It Up"
"Shout It Out Loud"
"Rock and Roll All Nite"