August 15, 2014 Kiss & Def Leppard Rock Nikon at Jones Beach Theater, NY 8-6-14
Few bands have iconic reputations that have lasted the test of time. Def Leppard and KISS are among the few who have. This tour was created in an effort to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of KISS who invited Def Leppard to join in the fun. Also on this tour is Dead Daisies, who were unable to perform this night, due to unforeseen circumstances.
As with any good event, tailgating is essential in getting the level of excitement to rise. The parking lot party for this show was unique and predictable at the same time. Unique in which hula skirts and Hawaiian shirts were evident, although Jimmy Buffett was not. Predictable wherein the onslaught of KISS costumes and makeup was…drum roll, please…donned by young and old, short or tall, and male or female.
Def Leppard took the stage with an understated, experienced ease. The band opened with “Let’s Get Rocked” and moved on down the list of expected hits such as, “Pour Some Sugar on Me”, “Love Bites”, “Rock of Ages” and more. In-between songs Joe Elliot, lead vocalist for the band, kept trying to conjure up a raucous response from a thin, reluctant crowd. Perhaps this audience was saving their screams and claps for KISS or they prefer not to be told when to clap, over and over.
Joe Elliot also mentioned how the stage lighting for the show had been damaged and to please excuse the lack luster appearance of the stage. The imagery that served as backdrop was more than enough and aided the audience in a walk down memory lane with old photos of the band.
The band gave a solid performance and graciously thanked the New York crowd for coming to the show. However, their lack of energy or the lack of the audience’s energy left the show just short being memorable. The closing number, “Photograph”, was an excellent ending to a rock-solid show.
Next up? KISS. Fasten your seatbelt…the ride will begin in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1…blast off to a “Psycho Circus” of eccentric excitement. The stage is set with a spider that looks like it is made out of old school Erector Set pieces. The show rockets forward with thunderous drums, screeching guitars, and a deep rhythmic bass. The Kiss army, boot campers and all, is immediately on their feet and bopping to the beat. After “Deuce”, Paul Stanley asks who is from NYC, Nassau, and Suffolk which gets everyone going. “Shout It Out Loud” and “War Machine” were received by KISS crazed fans who loved every minute as they fist pumped and stomped their way through the hits.
Stanley asks the eager audience to, “Help us with this one!” as they broke into “Hotter Than Hell”. The spider comes to life in this song as giant fire flames eject from the legs followed by the loudest bomb-like booms. BANG, BANG, BANG! Gene Simmons takes control of the audience and plays with fire as he effortlessly breaths fire to add to the theatrics of the song title and this incredible show. The heat from these flames could be felt in the audience which only made things hotter.
Paul Stanley says, “The world is full of bad news. It’s on the internet…the radio. Be good to yourselves!” as KISS launches into “Lick It Up”. The crowd is begging for more, each in their own little way as the energy is being given and taken by both band and those at hand. Enter more BANGS with white streamers flowing through the cool beach breeze.
The spider lowers to the stage floor and the God of rock is unleashed as “God of Thunder” has Simmons ascending up the center of the stage all the while playing his instrument and of course, not missing a beat. More fire, more BANG and the audience is still licking it up. Here is where Simmons face is the entire backdrop. He looks sinister, unpredictable, shifty, psychotic, and all at once spits blood as if to say I give you my blood, I give you me. This over the top, theatric, and dark entre’ is gobbled up with a hefty side of heavy drums.
The Bonnie Tyler cover, “Hide Your Heart” kept the head bopping and singing going for the chicks as they transitioned into the famous “Dr. Love” which returned the favor to the fellas. Sofie Simmons and her brother Nick, plus their entourage, proceeded to the sound board for a better view. Paul Stanley’s wife and children are watching from the sound board also. He asks the audience to cheer. He checks the volume of the left, right, and center. Not satisfied, he says, “If you want me to come out there, you’re gonna have to make more noise.” This goes on a couple of more times and then tells the people way up in the back that he’s coming up to say hello to them. Half way through “Love Gun”, Stanley hops on a pole and zip lines towards the sound board to an awaiting elevated circular platform. He struts and puts his best hip swaying moves on display as he rotates round and round. One quick guitar change and he’s on to “Black Diamond“. All the while Simmons, Singer and Thayer hold court on stage providing the epic musicality that only KISS can provide.
Instead of leaving the stage for an encore, Stanley says, “You want us to leave. We’d only be right over there hiding like all bands do. Or, should we just stay here and keep on playing?” “Detroit Rock City“? Check. Closing anthem, “Rock and Roll All Nite”? Double check. A blizzard of white confetti thanked the fans and KISS army for an excellent night not soon to be forgotten.