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Concert Review: KISS at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester, NH

Verizon Wireless Arena
Manchester, NH
July 12, 2011

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Reviewed by:  Roger Scales

How can I resist the temptation to go see KISS one more time before they decide to hang up the boots, flashy costumes and the wigs? I mean c’mon they are in the studio recording their new album and will probably go out and tour in support of it but maybe Paul decides he likes to paint more than play live and they get someone to replace him? Maybe Gene decides that Family Jewels is going to need an extra spark and the family moves to Spain where Nick and Sophie decide they want to try modeling and bull fighting. Make no bones about it, when Gene and Paul call it a day, KISS will go on. There is no question in my mind that Tommy and Eric will be joined by two other guys designed to “stand in” for The Demon and Starchild just as they are doing with the Spaceman and The Cat for departed original members Ace Frehley and Peter Criss, but I digress. I need to see KISS as often as possible as long as Gene and Paul are still playing live because it could be my last time in doing so. They have been my favorite band since 1975 and I still get a charge hearing the classic KISS tunes and seeing Gene spit blood and breathe fire. Also add in “the kid” factor of seeing my own 13 year old son get that same charge out of seeing “the greatest show on earth” as I did as a teenager.

This tour is being dubbed “The Lost Cities” tour, basically because the band is playing smaller cities and venues they haven’t played in a few years. The band ripped through an 18 song set list heavy on the classic 70’s era tunes and light on fluff and ballads. Relying heavily on Eric Singer for most of the harmonies, backbeat and near perfect timing the band still knows how to WOW the crowd and used more fireworks and explosions than any I saw over the 4th of July weekend.

I don’t think there is any doubt the kind of energy Tommy and Eric bring to the band. Technically they are light years ahead of Ace and Peter (even in their heyday, let alone now) but even more than that they seem to have a better insight into what KISS fans want in their set list these days; even though tonight’s show in Manchester could have used a shake up or two as some songs have just been played to death. The mistake KISS has made with Tommy and Eric is the simple fact that they don’t have their own identity. When Eric Carr and Vinnie Vincent originally replaced Peter and Ace they became the Fox and The Ankh instead of The Catman and The Spaceman. Those characters are associated with those performers. Period. Eric and Tommy have no identity and therein lies the issue with me and many other fans still following the band. Enough of my rant…back to the show!

Opening with “Modern Day Delilah” from the last KISS release Sonic Boom the band hit the stage amidst huge displays of fires and load roars from the New Hampshire crowd filled with kids dressed in makeup, parents wearing platforms and us old guys trying to find our oldest tour t-shirt possible without having belly hang! The set was heavy on Gene lead vocals with “Cold Gin”, “Let Me Go Rock N Roll” and “Deuce”. Clearly Paul is starting to lose some of his range and the set list reflects it. However he did return to form with “Firehouse” and “Love Gun” and set closer “Detroit Rock City”.

The stage set up was noticeably smaller than the last tour and had fewer ramps than in the past. Eric’s kit did rise at the end of the set and Gene and Tommy did have platforms that rose during “Rock N Roll Night” but Paul’s iconic fly across to a small stage in the middle of the floor was gone. Gene did also not rise to the rafters during his bass solo on “God of Thunder” as in the past few tours.

The show did prove one thing..with KISS it’s always been about the music and always will be. You can have as many stunts and special effects as you can muster up but if you cannot write songs no one will care. I’m always going to be the biggest critic in terms of the set list because I’m big on giving what the fanatic wants and not the casual concertgoer. The band should want to appeal to those who keep coming back and will want to take their kids and grandkids. One of the best points of the night was when Paul had the house lights turned onto the crowd so that the band could see the fans and tons of folks picked up their kids..and that is the future of the KISS recruits. I hope the new KISS album sells well. I hope they tour again with both Gene and Paul. I also hope that the next set list is done for us diehards in mind. Instead of “The Lost Cities” tour it should be dubbed “The Lost Identity” tour. Give Tommy and Eric their own piece of KISS history and send us off with a set list and show worthy of the bands incredible and undying legacy.

KISS Set List
1. Modern Day Delilah
2. Cold Gin
3. Let Me Go, Rock ‘N’ Roll
4. Firehouse
5. Say Yeah
6. Deuce
7. Do You Love Me
8. Calling Dr. Love
9. Shock Me
10. I Love It Loud
11. Love Gun
12. God of Thunder
13. Black Diamond
14. Detroit Rock City
15. Encore:
15. Beth
16. Lick It Up
17. Shout It Out Loud
18. Rock And Roll All Nite

The Lost Cities Tour continues through July.  For all the remaining dates hit up the band’s website here.

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5 Responses to “Concert Review: KISS at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester, NH”
  1. Jack Gattinella says:

    Im glad to see I was part of your highlight.. I was the guy in the front row who lifted my 3 year old daughter up in the air..Luckily 20 of my friends who were behind me all got great pictures of it.. Majical night for sure…



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