Kiss rocks, rolls Harveys Outdoor Concert Series
If it’s true Gene Simmons is afraid of heights, he sure didn’t show it during Lake Tahoe greatest rock show.
Complete with makeup, 8-inch heels, explosives, pyrotechnics and smashed guitars, Kiss thrilled 5,800 fans, many of them whom also donned outlandish white, black and bloody garb in the spirit of their heroes.
Simmons, aka “Demon,” Paul “Starchild” Stanley, Tommy “Spaceman” Thayer and Eric “the Cat” Singer played two sets featuring much of their material from the “Alive!” album, before a charged-up crowd on the chilly night of Aug. 30 at Harveys Outdoor Arena.
Simmons, he of the enormous, constantly flicking tongue, performed a bass solo 50 feet atop the stage lights, spit flames and, of course, spit blood.
Stanley spit at a fan who didn’t take too kindly to the Kiss disco song, “I Was Made For Loving You.”
“I’d kick your ass but they’d throw me in jail,” Stanley yelled in the microphone to the fan, who apparently started the spitting. “People like you are on ‘Jerry Springer’ every day.”
Eventually, Douglas County sheriff’s deputies escorted the fan out, probably sparing him a worse fate at the hands of the Kiss Army.
The deputies and the folks who were removed from the concert even seemed inspired by the theatrics of the band. The guy who was spit on by Stanley seemed to be the only one to walk out on his own accord.
But it was a great night to remember, for 99 percent of the crowd.
Stanley, the loquacious voice of Kiss, started off each song introduction by shouting “People!” Often at the end of songs, in a thick New York accent, he would yell, “Thank you Lake Tahoe, and the surrounding ‘Air-eee-ahhs,’ Reno, Las Vegas and Los Angeles.”
He instructed and sometimes browbeat the crowd into chanting and singing louder than the fans did at the previous night’s concert.
“Do you want us to leave thinking about Las Vegas or Lake Tahoe?” Stanley said, revving up an already vociferous, enthusiastic audience.
“It was a real circus,” said John Packer, Harveys and Harrah’s director of entertainment, who confirmed that the Douglas County fire marshal had approved all of the explosive special effects.
Two huge flames, which occasionally flanked the fearsome foursome ” comic book characters turned to life ” could be felt in the first 100 rows.
While the crowd included many as old as 60, there were plenty of younger fans and even children.
George Kramer’s stepson Ricky, 13, said it was the greatest night of his life, according to Kramer’s friend Robey O’Day, whose back tattoo of Kiss’ “Destroyer” album was on the cover of last week’s Lake Tahoe Action.
“They sure haven’t lost it by any means,” O’Day said. “They are good as they’ve always been, if not better. They are inspiring the kids to just keep it going.”
O’Day, who has played guitar in Tahoe metal bands for decades, was impressed with Thayer’s musicianship.
“Thayer played Ace Frehley’s leads note for note, and he had the same poses,” he said. “There couldn’t be a better replacement.”
Singer, who first joined Kiss in 1991, replaced Eric Carr, who died of cancer. Carr replaced original Kiss drummer Peter Criss.
Alexis Criss, the drummer for the Los Angeles-based Kiss tribute KISSES, appreciated the work of Singer, who performed an extensive solo as the drum set elevated and the bomb crew reloaded.
“Singer plays more fills, and sometimes maybe he speeds it up a little bit, but that’s his style,” said Alexis, who performed with KISSES the night before at Whiskey Dick’s Saloon.
Alexis said she enjoyed hearing “I Was Made For Loving You.”
“I love it; it’s a popular song and a big hit for them,” she said. “Everybody around me was singing with it. They loved it too.”
Stanley didn’t stay angry with the crowd for long.
He grabbed his guitar, and soared across a wire onto a platform next to the bleachers. He proceeded to play “Love Gun” before giving the crowd another instruction and singing “Detroit Rock City.”
“Don’t drink and drive,” he said. “We want to see you when we come back next year.”
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