Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Concert Review - KISS in Portland

Just got back from KISS at the Rose Garden in Portland. Where do I even start?

This review is going to be totally biased because this was not my usual concert experience. First of all, I bought side stage (read “expensive”) tickets because I was taking my 10 year old son and wanted him to have his mind blown. So our seats were unreal.

Second, my co-guitar player in my Portland band colorfield is a long-time friend of the Thayer family (KISS-man Tommy Thayer is from Portland). So long story short, I run into Pat at will call, and he is picking up a pass for a meet and greet. I knew about this and of course had asked if he could find out if he could bring me and my kid, and of course he couldn’t. No shock there – but I thought it never hurts to ask.

But lo and behold he gets his envelope and there are five passes in it. He wanted to make sure he didn’t mistakenly have someone else’s passes so he went in alone and my son and I got settled. Opener Buckcherry started and honestly I wasn’t impressed so we bailed just in time for Pat to text me that we could have two of the extra passes. Sweet!

So he comes and gets us and we stroll across the main floor backstage just in time to see the fab four in full makeup and gear walk by to go to the meet and greet. I high five Gene Simmons as he walks by. My life is complete.

We are ushered into a room where almost everyone is a friend/family member of Thayer. On the other side of a black curtain separating the room is the meet and greet, and there is a line of folks posing with KISS for a photographer. We figure this is for sure the radio contest winners, people who paid to meet the band etc. But we get in line anyway. If I can get a copy of that photo I will post it because that is the closest we got to the whole band. Didn’t really have a chance to talk or anything. It was stand here, snap snap, go over there. But wow, we got our photo taken standing with KISS.

So we went back around to where we started and eventually Tommy came into the room to greet his friends and family (oh and me). Got his photo with my son, got an autograph on my Sonic Boom CD etc. We had just enough time to hit the crapper, grab a couple of waters and get back to our seats.

So, THANKS to Pat for making this happen for me and especially my son. Wowsa.

Oh yeah so then the SHOW started. Anyone who follows my blog knows that I slag on KISS frequently. I didn’t give Sonic Boom the best of reviews, although it has indeed grown on me. I have questioned how much money those guys feel they need to make with the merch. I am not a giant fan of WalMart. Blah blah blah.

It doesn’t matter. The band I saw tonight was the tightest version of KISS I have ever seen. Of course I was blown away by the lights, bombs, smoke, spitting blood, revolving drum set, flying bass player etc.

But they were really tight. Gene and Paul finally let drummer Eric Singer have a double kick set and he used it to its fullest potential. Maybe it was b/c he was in his home town, but Thayer blew the doors off of his leads. I swear I didn’t miss Ace once, and that is about as blasphemous as I get. Didn’t hurt that we were so close to Thayer that I got one of his thrown guitar picks, which I promptly gave to my son. The night just kept getting better huh?

Vocal harmonies were tight. Paul Stanley did less prancing and more rocking than I have ever seen. Gene was great. His blood spitting bit has evolved a bit and is even more monster-movie derived, which is a good thing. He did Calling Dr. Love, which is one of my faves from childhood. In fact, the setlist was mostly stuff from Alive!, with personal faves being Hotter Than Hell and 100,000 Years. They did two new songs – both were awesome live, two 80s era songs (Lick It Up and I Love It Loud), and they mercifully did not play I Was Made For Loving You, which never sounds that great live, even with the killer new lineup.

One more note on Thayer. He kept mugging to our side because many of his family/friends were seated in my section. Right before Rock and Roll al Nite, I saw him go up to Eric Singer and get a drumstick, which he promptly slid into one of his hip-high boots and walked towards our side. Under cover of the raining down confetti, he leaned over the stage and handed the stick to a guy who came over to our section and gave it to a kid who must have been about 3 or 4. High class, that Tommy Thayer.

So to sum up, this is not the classic KISS lineup, and they don’t sound like the classic KISS lineup. It’s something else and damn it, it is good. I bought this ticket thinking, I will take my kid and then I'll be done with KISS. But shit, if they came back tomorrow I'd be there. They are kicking serious ass right now.

PS – if I am able to do half the stuff Paul Stanley did onstage when I am pushing 60, I will be a very lucky guy. That dude is immortal. Up close, you can tell he’s older, but man those new hips he got a couple of years ago are holding up well!

PSS – Noted one other popular musician at the meet and greet – Journey drummer Deen Castronovo. He was about five people in front of us for the photo opps. But I was so star struck being in the same room as KISS I didn’t even think to get an autograph or even say hey on behalf of my most fanatic Journey blog followers! Sorry everyone!

Here are some of the photos I took with my substandard Treo phone.

For some proper photos of this show, check out Chris Ryan's site here.

Also here is a video montage someone shot:


Anonymous said...

Very awesome review/experience. And some great pics even if from your substandard Treo! I splurged on the Meet and Greet in 2003. That was Tommy's first major tour I believe (World Domination) and he was the first one I walked up to and he was very nice. 18 more days until Dallas (not Meet and Greet this time, but did miraculously get 5th row center.)

Kevin Rankin said...

Wow, killer review, and spot-on. FYI - that was me handing that stick on, and I, too, was impressed that Tommy bypassed his rhythm part to point out that kid to deliver the stick... What a stud. I was there w/ Video Media shooting a European promo press kit for the band, and we spent the day with the band. Life-changing experience to say the least. Lots to share there...

Chris said...

Paul, this is so awesome I don't even know what to say. I think I teared up a little. And it wasn't even from jealousy. Much.

Isorski said...

Steven, let me know how it goes! Kevin, I knew that was you, man! Would love to hear about your time with the band. Chris, glad I could evoke an emotion in my post (aside from bemusement). It was a pretty emotional night...