Gig Report by Chris Martin (Writer/Contributor) Myglobalmind Webzine
So when you’ve seen the same band 20+ times over the progress of nearly 30 years (yes, I know, there are others that have seen bands much more than that. They can go write their own story, this is mine) you start debating whether or not you’re going to go yet again. There have been numerous times over the years that Roger and I have said when a tour is announced, “Let’s skip this year,” only to be tripping over ourselves to get tickets so we can make sure we are there as usual. This has become a more frequent occurrence since the reunion, truth be told, and even more so since the farce that is KISS now has been going full-force. See, for me, I am a tried and true, blind to everything else, diehard Ace Frehley fan, so it irks me something fierce to know that someone else is wearing his make-up and trying to cop his act. I don’t have a problem with Tommy Thayer personally. I’m sure he’s a helluva guy, though he really isn’t that good of a guitarist (I didn’t like him even n Black ‘N’ Blue either,) and under the circumstances I can’t entirely fault him for taking the gig, but I hate, hate, hate seeing him as Fake Frehley. Since the real Ace’s solo tour in 2008 (best show I had seen in 20 years) I have made it a point that every time I am at a KISS show, I am wearing my Ace Frehley t-shirt purchased at said show. And in defiance, during the travesty that is Thayer playing Ace’s signature song “Shock Me” I usually sit in silent protest during it and his solo (I can’t bring myself to do what some of my friends do and sit out on the show totally.) This time I stood to take pictures, but made a point to sing during the chorus, loud and proud, “Fuck you! You are not Ace Frehley!” Much to the amusement of my girlfriend, of course. But as is typical of my silly writings, I’m getting ahead of myself, as well as taking a tangent. Let me get back on track…
The ONLY reasons I went to this show was because my girlfriend had never been to a KISS show so this was an early Birthday gift to her (as well as the fact that my sister was excited about going) and the fact that Motley Crue was on the bill and shockingly enough, I had never ventured out to see Crue live before this. So I choked down the $50 a pop tickets to sit in the lawn (there was no way in hell I was spending $100+ a ticket for closer seats; and yes I was EXTREMELY pissed when I was at the Maiden show and they were selling yard seats for $15, but that is a topic I don’t wish to discuss as it rises my blood pressure up almost as much as Thayer as Frehley.) I’m not a big Crue fan. I love their first three albums, but after that I’m kind of touch and go with them. I like a wealth of songs post Theatre of Pain, but full albums not so much. Also, though I have heard many reports that they put on an excellent show, I had heard just as many reports stating how much Vince Neil’s vocals sucked and how spotty the band as a whole can be. I was just never a big enough fan to shell out the money to see them until now. Also joining me in my vehicle was Laura who was also seeing both bands for the first time. Meeting us later at McDonalds was Roger, his wife Stacey, his son Andrew, and two of their friends Rick and Ashton (Rick also joined us for the Maiden show.)
My days of getting lost (hopefully) are numbered as my girlfriend Anjeanette has an awesome GPS on her cell phone, plus she seems to have a good grasp of directions and whatnot. And for a change, Roger wasn’t the last person to meet up. We ate our food, caught up on recent happenings in our lives, then loaded up the cars and headed to the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Charlotte. Thanks to a pretty serious back surgery not too long ago, Anjeanette has a handicap sticker, so while she was instructing me on where I needed to park, I was busy placing the placard on the rearview mirror to indicate to the police directing traffic that we were legit, so obviously distracted (but not in detriment to anyone’s well-being mind you) I made a wrong turn. So when the frustration mounted from my passangers, so did mine, and while I was being instructed to forget about it and just park I set my mind to fixing my mistake, and quickly. So like the red blooded heavy metal redneck I am, I gunned the engine, spinning my tires and gravel all over, and spun the car around. We got to an attendant who I asked what we needed to do and he said to go back the way we came, to which I got a chorus of “he doesn’t know what he’s talking about’s,” so again, to fix the situation, I gunned it again, and waited for my moment to zoom through the one way passage through the vehicles entering the lot. Again, no one was in any danger, though listening to my sister freak out I suppose she could’ve possibly had a heart attack. Safely tucked into the spot, and to the excitement of my girlfriend and Laura (they really had fun hot-rodding it seems) as they asked if we could do it again, we made our way into the venue.
Almost immediately as we got inside, we found out we could upgrade our lawn seats to actual seats for only $10 more I was greatly relieved. I’m still nursing a bum knee so I wasn’t excited about the prospect of standing all night or opting to sit on the ground (which bad knee or not isn’t an easy thing for a fat bastard such as myself to get off of to begin with.) New tickets in hand, we made our way to the shirts, which I passed on as I didn’t much want to pay $40 for something I can get for $25 online, but I still enjoy looking at them. We also purchased drinks as it was hotter than forty hells. We got to our seats and with what seemed like very little wait, Motley Crue was about to take the stage.
The show started oddly. First some guys in red robes came out and made some gestures and such on stage, then a procession came walking through the crowd. From our vantage point I couldn’t see what was really going on, but it sort of seemed liked there was a member or two of the band hidden amongst the entourage. The back drop on the screen was a stop watch counting down to the show starting. Beyond that it was as if the band just walked out, said hello then started playing. There were lights, fire, explosions, half naked women, and large set pieces as one would expect. Tommy Lee’s drum set was situated within a roller coaster track loop which came into play later on in the show. As I usually do, I cheated beforehand and checked out the songs both bands were playing to see what I was to expect. Since this was my first time seeing them, I was relatively pleased with Motley Crue’s setlist, however I was disappointed that they weren’t doing “Live Wire.” In fact, they were only doing “Shout At The Devil” and “Looks That Kill” and nothing else before that or from that particular album. It was pretty much a hits list, which apparently doesn’t stray too far from what they’ve done the last few tours I overheard someone saying.
Vince’s vocals seemed pretty decent, though I think he was using some sort of effect to increase his range that made him sound kind of like a chipmunk (more so than usual,) and just as I have always heard about him, he wasn’t able to “keep up” with the original lyrics of those earlier songs and just did the best he could. Going in knowing this made me able to enjoy them more than I would’ve not knowing. Musically I will say this, they’re not as tight as they should be to have been playing together as long as they have, and Mick Mars is a better guitarist than I had given him credit for. He’s still not my favorite, but he’s pretty good. Roger disappeared for a bit during their set, and came back to report that he had seen and bumped fists with legendary pro wrestler Ric Flair (he lives in the Charlotte area.) I almost went to try to meet him myself, but I’m glad I didn’t. While I was telling Anjeanette and my sister Kim about Flair being there, I all of a sudden realized what Motley was playing…LIVE WIRE!! They did a fine job of it, and I was quite pleased they added it. Tommy Lee’s “drum solo” sucked, but I liked that his set was rigged to go around the roller coaster loop. And a lucky contest winner got to ride it as well… the drum set, not Tommy. His “solo” was a lot of voice over stuff and electronic drum garbage that really got on my nerves. Overall I have to say they do indeed put on a good show, but KISS, even at their worst, was going to have no problem owning the night.
There was a pretty extensive break between bands as one could imagine with breaking down the Crue set and putting up the KISS stage. I took advantage of this downtime to sit the entire time resting my knee. I took a few breaks during Motley’s set as well, but from past experience at KISS shows I had a feeling I would spend more time on my feet than I probably should. During said down time we were visited upon by pleasant visitors and unpleasant. The pleasant were Mike from Final Curse and Brook. I missed Mike out in the parking lot apparently during my Dukes of Hazzard impression, but they got to sit with us during the show. The unpleasant was some stranger who decided to befriend us and regale us with his tales of concerts past, including an Iron Maiden show at Verizon during the Fear of the Dark tour that, despite not only my assurances that the Somewhere In Time tour was the last time they had passed through the Charlotte area until recently, but also the Iron Maiden site and Wikipedia not showing its existence, he still insisted he knew ten people that were also at said show. Huge prop’s to Rick and his Smartphone for having my back on this. Then he tried to flex his KISS knowledge at which point I showed him my KISS tattoo, and despite saying a couple more things during the show about the songs, he left us alone, and eventually went elsewhere.
I’ve already gone on my Thayer rant, so I’ll leave that be for now. Like I said before, I had looked to see what was being played this evening and though I was fine with Motley Crue’s set being a greatest hits deal, I wasn’t as pleased to see that with the exception of one older song (“War Machine”) and the new one (“Hell Or Hallelujah,) KISS’ list consisted of the same old tired songs I have heard/seen a gazillion times. Had it been my first KISS show, it likely would’ve been pretty great, but as this was concert #22 for me, not so much. But I vowed I would have a blast because I knew my girlfriend was going to love it, and that Laura and my sister were going to have a blast as well. Plus I was holding out hope that the show itself would be mind-blowingly awesome and that unlike the last couple of tours Paul was going to be in tip top shape as he recently had vocal surgery done. So as soon as the KISS banner dropped and the band came down from the ceiling to the opening strains of “Detroit Rock City” I proceeded to treat the show as if it were my first, and was pleasantly surprised to see that they not only looked great, but sounded better than they have in a long time. Though Roger feels like Paul didn’t come into his groove until the third song, I though he sounded fantastic from the jump. I had previously warned Anjeanette that Paul was losing his vocal abilities, but he proved me wrong, which was just fine with me. Even Thayer was sounding pretty good (until the “Shock Me” debacle, of course.) The outfits and stage show was different as well (though the standard things that one should anticipate at every KISS show were still firmly in place.) I’m pleased to say that even though in my eyes they’re the greatest tribute band out there, the show was fantastic and I had an absolute blast.
Perhaps lowering my expectations made the show better, but I’m going with the fact that the entire show was simply fantastic and leave it at that. Was it the greatest KISS show I’ve ever seen? Not a chance! But it was far from the worst. I don’t foresee me stopping wearing my Ace shirt to the Monster tour that will likely be coming around after October when the new album drops, but I’ll likely be a little more excited about seeing them again. I won’t be happy about the price mind you, and will likely have to suffer through some of the same songs (the new one “Hell or Hallelujah” is actually pretty awesome, unlike Crue’s new one “SEX.” Should be called “SUX”) I may drop the whole “I’m skipping this tour routine,” and just get ready for a rock and roll party tonight. WOO! So get your ass’ out there and see this show. Ticket sells were apparently low, which is a crying shame as it really is a great tour package. So until next time my peep’s always remember: She walks by moonlight, no one really knows. Enchanted starlight- never goin’ home.
Because I know some of you will wonder, the concert pics are the best available pictures we could obtain and thanks in part to Chris Martin for getting the best view possible for the images you see. Unfortunately we didn’t have press passes for this show as it’s very difficult to get those for larger then life tours like this one therefore no up close images we’re available. This is something we look forward to correcting in the future for your viewing pleasure and for future live gigs.