By Donnie Moorehouse
HARTFORD - There are not a lot of true rock shows out on the road these days, that unabashed rock’ n’ roll that’s as much about the mayhem, posturing and adult-themed innuendo as it is the music. That the perceived void should be filled by bands now 30-years past relevancy should come as no surprise. The genre itself has the feel of a bygone era.
What may surprise some is that two of those bands, Kiss and Motley Crue, teamed up for a summer tour that ended with a show at the Comcast Theatre on Sunday night and both sounded like bands, not of a bygone era, but in their prime.
The double-bill (with Kiss as the headliner) brought thousands to the Hartford venue, selling out the pavilion and earning a respectable presence on the vast lawn as well proving there is indeed at least somewhat of a void that deserves to be filled.
Kiss has always been about three chords and an absolute spectacle and the band delivered on both fronts. Descending to the stage on a platform surrounded by pinwheel-like pyrotechnics and their now standard introduction (“you wanted the best, you got the best….”), the band opened with “Detroit Rock City.”
Collectively and individually the group has not sounded this good in a decade. Both Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley seemed to have cheated the ravages of time to some extent and are energized by drummer Eric Singer and lead guitarist Tommy Thayer.
Simmons spit fire balls, blood, and lyrical venom as the band churned out “I Love It Loud,” “Firehouse” and a new song from the upcoming “Kiss Monster” album called “Hell or Hallelujah.”
After “War Machine,” Thayer took center stage on “Shock Me” with sparks flying out of the end of his guitar. Simmons did him one better, riding a cable to the top of the light rack to sing “God of Thunder.” Stanley took his turn, zip-lining to the back of the shed for a one-song stint.
The band broke into “Lick It Up,” and segued into The Who’s “Won’t Be Fooled Again,” before wrapping up the set with “Rock’ N’ Roll All Nite,” which featured a confetti and firework finale the Grucci family would have admired.
It was a great display of a band that doesn’t take its audience for granted, a spirit that was also invoked by Motley Crue’s 90 minute set that featured their live concert staples, both musically and otherwise.
The band delivered songs like “Shout at the Devil,” “Same Old Situation,” “Home Sweet Home,” and “Dr. Feelgood,” while also showcasing high-powered water guns, scantily clad backing vocalists, and a Tommy Lee rotating, floating drum solo on a contraption that belongs on the midway.