At a near-capacity show for their recently launched Hottest Show on Earth Tour in Pittsburgh last night, Kiss proved why they are the reigning kings of theater rock, delivering an electric two-hour, 21-song set of glam-rock smashes, newer tunes, over-the-top pyrotechnics and plenty of blood-spitting. "We have a problem that a lot of bands don't: there are a lot of songs we have to play," Paul Stanley told Rolling Stone backstage before the gig. "So it's a matter of mixing it up, but playing what people want to hear."
With three massive video screens and bright LED lights, Kiss kicked the show off with fiery jams like "Modern Day Delilah" and "Cold Gin," but the band hit their stride once they launched into "Let Me Go, Rock 'N' Roll," which found Kiss saturated in blinding white light and sent the crowd into a frenzied clap-along. (Dozens of die-hards dressed in full Kiss fatigues while hundreds more donned the band's trademark makeup.) Throughout the gig, guitarist Tommy Thayer and drummer Eric Singer filled in solidly for original members Ace Frehley and Peter Criss, especially when Singer reprised Frehley's sparks-shooting guitar solo in "Shock Me." When Criss left the band in 2004, Kiss abandoned playing the fan-favorite "Beth" but they revived their 1976 classic — to date, their highest-charting single ever — for their current tour. "The band is bigger than the members," Stanley told RS. "The idea that some people can be replaced and not all of them would be a little pigheaded and big-headed of me. Gene and I, there are people out there who could do what we do at least as well, if not better. I don't have to be there for it to be Kiss." Stanley added that the band could "absolutely" continue if he and Simmons decided to retire.
While the band delivered fan favorites like a show-closing "Rock and Roll All Nite," Kiss mined their catalog for deeper cuts like the faux-disco 1979 single "I Was Made for Lovin' You," during which Stanley zoomed over the crowd suspended by wires. (Another surprise: "Crazy Nights," the no-makeup-era single that sounded 10 times better as a summer-evening singalong than it did broadcast on MTV in 1987.) Kiss' show was also big on tunes from 2009's Sonic Boom and even those heavy, anthemic songs could have been long-lost tracks to albums like 1976's classic Rock and Roll Over."Sonic Boom was something that fortified us and really united us in the sense that we're now celebrating everything we've done in the past, the present, and where we're going in the future," said Stanley. "Sonic Boom is not the last album. It's the first album in the next phase."
Stanley said that the band plans to go back in to the studio next February and release an album as early as next summer, but in the meantime, Kiss are content to deliver a hit parade for the Hottest Show on Earth tour. "We don't want to fall into the thing where you have to play obscure songs," said Stanley. "I'm a big believer that a song is obscure for a reason: Songs that aren't as popular aren't as good."
"Modern Day Delilah"
"Let Me Go, Rock ‘N Roll"
"Calling Dr. Love"
"I'm an Animal"
"I Love It Loud"
"Detroit Rock City"
"Lick It Up"
"Shout It Out Loud"
"I Was Made for Lovin’ You"
"God Gave Rock 'N' Roll To You II"
"Rock and Roll All Nite"