I’ve always contended that one of the things that has made KISS appealing to an army of fans for four decades has been the simplicity of their music (newsflash: Led Zeppelin, they’re not) and predictability of their over-the-top theatrical live shows. So it came as no surprise that Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley and the two hired hands not named Peter Criss or Ace Frehley chose not to reinvent the wheel on the opening night of their three-week, nine-show KISS Rocks Vegas residency. Yes, there were fire and explosions and eardrum-splitting sound and 12-inch platform heels and Stanley performing “Love Gun” hovering over the audience and Simmons spitting blood while soaring toward the ceiling during his bass solo. Indeed, KISS knows what they do, and they do it well. But there’s just one problem: They don’t do it for very long.
Not that one should expect a three-hour extravaganza, what with 50 percent of the band old enough to collect Social Security. But when you’ve got a catalog of more than three dozen albums and you’re saying your initial goodnight after 13 songs, that doesn’t exactly qualify as a full night’s work. To their credit, they played a three-song encore; they didn’t lack for effort (at times, the quartet seemed to have more verve than the audience); and they sprinkled in a couple of deep cuts (“Parasite,” show-opener “Creatures of the Night”) with the usual standards. But when you’re dropping the confetti after barely 90 minutes, well, let’s just say Paul and Gene should consider retiring the closing song “Rock and Roll All Nite” from the set list. Or at least rewrite the lyrics. ★★★✩✩
Photos by Erik Kabik / ErikKabik.com