KISS, Mötley Crüe - Gexa Energy Pavilion - 8/4/12

Mike Mezeul

KISS, Mötley Crüe Gexa Energy Pavilion Saturday, August 4

See also: The fans of KISS

First up on Saturday night were the "newbies," Mötley Crüe. Their set-up was as bewildering as it was impressive, the stage dominated by what can only be described as a kind of rollercoaster for Tommy Lee's drum kit, which at one point did a full loop, unfortunately while Tommy Lee was safely strapped in. While he was doing the loop, he was drumming along to a recording of "Love Rollercoaster" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Their stage show was a strange mix of medieval (they came out via a parade, carrying banners) and industrial (flamethrowers, big industrial fans, aforementioned rollercoaster). I think there's a reason no one's really tried to mix medieval with industrial before (well, actually several reasons), and it would need much more thought than the Crüe are capable of for it to mesh properly and not scream Spinal Tap. The music was alright, and by the end of an hour and a half, the crowd didn't seem particularly energized. The heat might have been to blame for this; Gexa is a pseudo-outdoor venue, and the scientific term for the temperature on Saturday evening was "hot as balls."

KISS' stage setup was very different, maybe even minimalist in comparison. Just a whole bunch of stairs with a drumkit at the top. I mean, obviously it all went a bit crazy: particular highlights included a bazooka firework knocking down a fake lighting rig and Gene Simmons ascending to a stage while spitting blood. "Detroit Rock City" and "Love Gun" still sound fresh, even this many years down the line, and Paul Stanley has lost none of his talent for entertaining and captivating an audience.

The encore, "Rock And Roll All Night," was played to a backdrop of fire, confetti, fireworks and a devoted, screaming KISS Army. It was physically impossible not to sing along, even after nigh-on four hours of being outside and near enough flames to melt an iceberg. I fared a lot better than Gene Simmons, though. In his full armor and standing next to all the flames, he was dripping sweat from the moment he came on stage. This did not stop him mugging for the camera and putting his tongue out, surely only a nuclear apocalypse will stop that. It's unbelievable to think Simmons and Stanley are in their '60s.

Notebook dump: A list of all the gimmicks I recorded, in order: Midgets, stilt-walkers, attractive rope-climbers, more stilts, flamethrowers, awful flashy sequined piano, flying microphone, water cannons, gravity-defying drums, a woman angle-grinding her metal underwear, a deafening cannon, a guitar-mounted flamethrower, a zip wire onto a rotating platform in the middle of the audience, fire-breathing, a flaming sword, a bazooka, a clearly fake noise-o-meter, fake blood, three separate rising stages, confetti cannons, and more fireworks than Fourth of July.

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