Pavilion at Toyota Music Factory, Irving
Wednesday, September 27, 2017
Three years ago, Kiss frontman Gene Simmons declared that rock was dead.
“The death of rock was not a natural death,” Simmons told Esquire magazine in a 2014 interview. “Rock did not die of old age. It was murdered.”
Because rock is dead, Simmons believes it’s up to him and the rest of Kiss to remind people what rock once was and to celebrate its life by continuing to tour.
The KISSWORLD 2017 Tour stopped at the Pavilion at Toyota Music Factory Wednesday night. The show was the 30th of 32 dates on the three-leg tour and among the first few performances ever held at the new pavilion.
Heavy rain barreled through North Texas an hour before the show, scheduled to go on rain or shine. The showers were brief and passed well before the show, but concertgoers with tickets on the lawn were forced to camp out on the wet, muddy ground as the light drizzle tapered off.
Outside the pavilion, there is still work to be done. Restaurants under construction were fenced off, generators were being used to power lights, pipes were on the ground outside the parking garage and some scaffolding was still set up. There is no real marquee bearing the venue’s name, just some plastic banners.
But inside, where it mattered, the venue was more polished. A few rows and seats were marked off with white tape but otherwise the pavilion was ready to go for the Rock and Roll Hall of Famers, who needed no opener. The venue can function as a 4,000-seat concert hall, but for Wednesday’s show, it was opened into an amphitheater that can accommodate 8,000 people.
Kiss took the stage around 8 p.m. in their iconic black and white makeup, lipstick, platform heels, chains, armor and leather pants. They led off with “Deuce” from self-titled 1974 album. As a curtain-sized Kiss banner fell to the ground and the drummer’s stage was lowered, Paul Stanley shouted, “You want the best? You get the best.”
Kiss had played in the Houston suburb of Sugar Land the night before, and Stanley asked the crowd to cheer in support of the victims of Hurricane Harvey.
Kiss hasn’t released an album since 2012's Monster, and they mostly played hits from albums Destroyer, Kiss, Creatures of the Night and Love Gun. The audio, which can be a challenge for new venues, came through loud and clear.
Kiss could be heard from the front rows of the pavilion to the soaked lawn — even to the concessions stands, where some beers are pricier than at American Airlines Center. Although the pavilion does offer $4 cans of Keystone for those on a budget.
Their makeup helps hide some wrinkles, and the members of Kiss still hold up as performers. All of the band members are now in their late-50s or older. Simmons is the oldest — he recently celebrated his 68th birthday — but he continues to rock the way he did in the '80s, dancing and jumping across the stage.
Perhaps Simmons’ body has held up so well because he eats well, exercises and doesn’t drink or take drugs. In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, Simmons said the smell of alcohol makes him want to vomit and that he finds people who drink to be weak.
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Simmons also said that he’s stuck to a strictly protein diet and that he likes to hike up the hills of Santa Monica when he has time. “Kiss is the hardest working band in show business,” Simmons said. “I run around on 7-inch platform heals wearing 40 pounds of armor; that'll take the weight off you.”
The set was accented with fireworks, pyrotechnics and an acrobatic maneuver from Stanley as he flew over the crowd onto an elevated part of the stage. Simmons also entertained fans with his signature fire breathing during “Firehouse,” and blood-spitting during a bass solo.
Kiss closed their set with “Rock and Roll All Nite” before returning for an encore of “Cold Gin” and “Detroit City Rock.” At one point, Stanley asked to see a show of hands from people who were attending their first Kiss show.
Stanley was surprised but pleased with the result. “That’s good,” he said. “Nobody forgets their first Kiss concert.”