KISS and Deff Leppard Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre 7/5/14
The day after 4th of July, nearly 20,000 screaming rock-n-roll fans filled the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre In Irvine, to witness two stellar performances by two defining rock bands: Def Leppard and KISS.
At 9:45, every section of the venue was packed, from the lawns to the lower pit. All around, older fans were passing joints as KISS took the stage, the members all greeted with roars of applause which, for the most part, lasted for the entire KISS concert.
A huge platform in the shape of a spider was in the middle of the stage as KISS blasted into an hour long set of classic songs, with nothing newer than 1998. Fan favorites included "Duce," "Hotter Than Hell," "Christine Sixteen," "Black Diamond," and "Cold Gin."
Frontman Paul Stanley, who originally founded KISS in 1973 with Simmons in New York City, took time to thank the crowd more than once, and was constantly smiling throughout the entire evening. "I thank God every day before we get on stage that I can be up here with all of you people!" he yelled at the crowd. "But what I really want to do, is join you all up there," he said, pointing to the upper Lodge area of the stadium midway through the show. For the songs "Love Gun" and "Black Diamond," Stanley and his guitar flew with the help of a guided elevated rope, to a tiny stage set up in the upper level, and played in front of the Lodge and Lawn section rabid fans, as giant screens shot the action close up, and Gene Simmons, Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer held it down below on the stage.
One of the most magical elements of KISS live is the blood gurgling, monstrous bass solo, put on by bass master Gene Simmons. After four decades, Simmons still retains the magic and gives off a presence that is unmatched. He is truly a legendary figure among Rock and Heavy Metal music, and his performance alone set the tone and influenced so many shock rock, punk and black metal bands to come. Simmons was put on ropes and elevated to the top of the giant spider platform for his bass solo and stood around 50 feet high, with giant screens detailing his infamous creepy long, reptilian like tongue and spitting up of blood, after which he too was lowered down by ropes to the stage.
KISS played for just over hour, but fans were satisfied, because the band was on fire musically, each member exuded a real passion for what they were doing, and the crowd response was amazing, for each song. Drummer Eric Singer threw it down hard and kept in tune with everyone providing a zap of energy that most drummers can't lock in. Guitarist Tommy Thayer also blasted the audience with 100 percent effort and precision, truly bringing a unique detail and energy to the band that fit in perfectly with the thunderous gigantor bassist Simmons, who is larger than life, in all aspects. In short, KISS might be older, and the band might not consist of the classic original four line up, but they still F*****G ROCK!
Next page: Review of Def Leppard
Def Leppard began sharp at 8 p.m., and also produced an amazing Rock N' Roll show, in which more than three fourths of Verizon was full to experience, while many waited in line for beer and some diehard KISS ARMY fans pulled up or were still tailgating till the last minute for KISS.
Even though the tour is a co-headlining tour, and each band played roughly the same amount of time give or take, Def Leppard seemed to open for KISS, but fans in the front and middle sections didn't mind at all and were totally into the band's stage presence and playing. The band, which merged the classic '80s metal sound, with hair metal and hints of early speed metal and New Wave of British Heavy Metal, as well as full on pop metal, played songs such as "Foolin," "Love Bites," and "Hysteria," as well as the set closer, "Pour Some Sugar on Me," the band's biggest hit. The encore consisted of the songs "Rock of Ages" and "Photograph." Sadly, hundreds of fans were noticed exiting and leaving before KISS.
The Crowd: The diversity of fans reflected the span of four decades of influence KISS has had, ranging from toddlers to senior citizens. Hundreds also adorned full KISS face paint, including grade school kids, older women in bikinis, men in tuxedo suits and several stadium workers.
Overheard from the Crowd: " I want you people to know, you're looking at a band in the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame," Paul Stanley yelled into the crowd just after the first few songs. "They hate us over there, but thanks to all of our millions of fans who told them to "F**K Off!"
Random Notebook Dump: KISS stole the show, only because of the grandiosity of a stage show, which was easily into the tens of millions. With enough fireworks and pyrotechnics during the show to rival any 4th of July celebration, Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley shot explosive sparklers out of their instruments more than twice each.
Critical Bias: Gotta give a nod of respect and a get will wish soon to Def Leppard guitarist Vivian Campbell, who is with the band on tour, despite a dealing with a recurring case of Hodgkin's Lymphoma, for which he is getting treatment, and fighting the cancer. Campbell first revealed his diagnosis in June, 2013 and was thought to have been in remission, but has said in interviews he is so far, doing well with his fight.
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KISS Setlist 1.Psycho Circus 2.Duece 3.Shout It Out Loud 4.War Machine 5.Hotter Than Hell 6.Christine Sixteen 7.I Love It Loud 8.Hide Your Heart 9.Cold Gin 10.Love Gun 11.Black Diamond
Encore: 12.Detroit Rock City 13.Rock and Roll All Night