Concert Review: KISS at the Hard Rock Las Vegas 11/5/2014

KISS arrives at the Hard Rock Casino on November 5th, 2014 via helicopter to begin their mini-residency at The Joint. From www.vegas24seven.com

If you are a musician, work in the music industry, or are just a plain ol’ fan of music in general you need to go see KISS. I am sorry that I waited this long, but the minute I heard they were playing a mini-residency (well two of the original four members anyway), I was there.

Wednesday, November 5th was opening night and I had my seat dead center mid-balcony, which, in my opinion, is one of the best spots at the Joint at Hard Rock Casino in Las Vegas. Having attended Crüe’s residency last year, I anticipated a spectacular stage spectacle.

That is exactly what KISS delivered.

But it took a minute.  I noticed a lot of the fire effects, though very cool, were done by Crüe last year. And for a bit, I was wondering if these residencies might be cookie cutter stage shows.

Boy was I wrong….very wrong.

I want to say it was during Shout it Out that they kicked on the lasers, but I can’t be 100% certain.  It all was quite a blur. Anyway, during the tune Gene and Paul rose above the stage on a mechanical lift. The lasers kicked on and swayed over the crowd. From where I was sitting, it seemed like you could just walk right onto the bed of bright LED green. It was so intense that I felt as though I was reliving an acid trip of yesteryear.

It only escalated from there.

Gene took his bass solo center stage while spitting up blood under an eerie green light that was accented by white strobes.  Then he lifted into the air.

Yes you read that correctly…he lifted into the air, and then landed on a suspended pedestal above the crowd. From there, they ripped through a few tunes. Later on Paul Stanley took his own ride above the crowd and landed on a pedestal stage left, did a tune and then took off over the audience to land on another pedestal stage right before floating his way back home.

In an era where rock stars cancel sold out shows for the sniffles, here was Paul Stanley, an icon, a multi-millionaire, a recent Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee riding a hundred feet above the crowd with no safety harness (from what I could see) and no net below. Something only a true rock star would consider, much less take on.

These theatrics happened in front of the best lighting design I have seen yet. Let me put it this way. A true artist learns to paint with less. This L.D. understood that fact and painted that stage with the perfect wash for every song, every feeling, every emotion and then accented it to rhythmic perfection.

Perhaps the greatest moment of the night was after the last tune when the group welcomed a local Las Vegas wounded warrior and his wife on stage. They then handed over this Purple Heart recipient his own home free and clear. After that, Paul asked the whole crowd to say the Pledge of Allegiance, which we all obliged with our hands over our hearts. Then it was back to some serious American rock and Roll culminating with the KISS anthem Rock and Roll all Nite.

It was an epic show, and as a musician and lover of music it was surreal to watch KISS on stage. Something hits you when you see the make-up, the theatrics, the devoted fans. It was more than catching a band, it was catching an actual piece of history. Not just rock and roll history, but a piece of American history. I noticed that during our Pledge of Allegiance as countless foreign faces obliged Paul’s request and stumbled through those words. As an American, I often forget the ingredients that create our country. Things like muscle cars, the iPhone, apple pie, Coca-Cola, and of course…KISS.

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