Friday August 18th.
By Keith Sharp
For Cpl Kayla Harris, it wasn’t her regular day at the office, or in her case, Canadian Armed Forces Base Borden. As most people know, devout fans of Glam rock band, Kiss are known as The Kiss Army so it was apropos that Cpl Harris was recruited as Roadie For The Day as Kiss made a stop on their current Freedom To Rock tour at Casino Rama.
An initiative the band has employed during all stops on their current tour to honour our fighting forces both in Canada and the United States.
Cpl Harris was introduced to the audience just before Messer’s Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer launched into a two-song encore of “Cold Gin” and “Detroit City Rock” at which time the CFB Borden Colour Guard performed the Canadian national anthem (I dare say this has never happened at a Canadian Kiss concert before!)
For someone who has been lobbying that classic rock is dead, bassist Simmons and Co set about proving that, at least with Kiss, the true value of a vintage rock performance is still alive and kicking with a set that was more about the music than any outlandish special effects. Yes, Simmons still spits fire at the climax to “Firehouse”, still drips blood during “God Of Thunder” and guitarist Stanley executes a pyrotechnic flight into the audience during “Psycho Circus” but for the most part, the overall production was much more toned down, no flashy backdrop, no ostentatious riser stunts, just four veteran rockers plying their trade.
As the house lights dimmed with the final chords of Led Zeppelin’s “Rock N Roll”, the familiar single note drone sequed into the even more familiar “You Wanted The Best”, Kiss opened with Deuce…Kiss gave a shout out to other classic rockers by injecting a snippet of The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again” into “Lick it Up” but for the most part, the set reflected classic Kiss with vocalist Stanley still capable of delivering the good on tracks like “Love Gun”, “I Love It Loud” , “Black Diamond” and of course their anthem, “Rock And Roll All Nite”.
Tommy Thayer was even allowed to sing lead vocals on “Shock Me” and concluded a tasty guitar solo by shooting fireworks out of his guitar’s headstock but there was no drum solo from Singer as the band decided to keep their set tight.
This may not be the giant stage production of past extravaganzas but Kiss was playing in a casino environment, which would have imposed its own limitations. Yet with over 100 million records sales and their own spot in the Rock N Roll Hall Of Fame secured (inducted 2014), Kiss continue to be a viable music force and a band set to prove that at least in their case, classic rock is still relevant.