KISS with Bad City
Abbotsford Entertainment & Sports Centre
June 27, 2011
Photos by Dan Savoie
Legendary rockers KISS have been working their way up through the North this week, but the current small town Canadian-leg of the tour began in Abbotsford on Monday. Armed with the usual truckloads of pyro, flames, smoke, confetti and a whole lotta rock n’ roll, KISS held nothing back for its smaller city fans and in fact gave off a more intimate and relaxed feel than when they played Vancouver the year before. It was less talk and more KISS as the band worked its way through the two hour set list. Vocalist Paul Stanley did seem to have a blast saying the city name over and over, and he even renamed the place Abbotsford Rock City.
The simplistic stage looked a bit plain when not being used, but when the band was on it, the lights, video screens and strobes lit up the house, most likely using more electricity than neighboring Hope and Mission combined. There were even well hidden risers which took drummer Eric Singer up to the ceiling in what looked like suspended animation during his drum solo, while later in the show bassist Gene Simmons and guitarist Tommy Thayer were lifted via the Love Gun/Alive II lifts fans have been accustomed to all these years. The costumes remained from the Sonic Boom album, with Tommy’s space outfit being the best of the bunch, while Paul Stanley’s original hybrid of costumes still glistened and gleamed as good as the day the first Sonic Boom press photo was released.
Surprisingly, the 19 song set list was composed of mostly older material, with only four of the songs coming from post-1978 albums. There was not as many Paul songs this time out, especially missing was I Was Made For Loving You, but that may have been due to what could have been a throat problem for the 59 year old lead singer – the first I had ever seen since I first began going to KISS concerts all the way back to 1983. Paul even whispered his way through his short vocal part on Black Diamond. But if Paul’s throat was a little off, he made up for it with his legendary showmanship, strutting and prancing his way around the stage like he’s done for nearly 40 years. It was also the first time I’d ever seen Paul sit on the edge of the stage, which he did three times that night. None of this took away from the show – it only added to the intimacy I mentioned earlier.
A fresh treat this time out was a surprisingly accurate and special moment when Eric took the mic to sing an acoustic version of Beth with the band. Eric looked a bit akward not being behind the drums, but his voice took center stage with what could only be described as a near perfect vocal – better than any I had seen from Peter Criss at any time.
Tommy and Eric had a great jam together, with Eric coming out the cooler “cat” of the two with his powerhouse drumming leading the way. Gene gave his 200% to the show with the traditional fire breathing and blood spitting act, but his vocals were right on the money the entire night. He jumped around like the demon from 1978 and sang like the guy on the first album in 1974.
An added attraction to the show was the entire Gene Simmons Family Jewels crew were on hand following Shannon, Nick and Sophie around the venue as they greeted family, friends and fans. Doc McGhee even made a round trip around the arena shaking hands with fans.
It seems that the smaller the venue KISS performs in, the more intimate and powerful it becomes. That whole intimate thing peaked for me when KISS played a small club in Toronto on the Revenge warm-up tour back in 1992. Abbotsford however, takes a special place as being the smallest arena show I had ever seen the band in. That’s the magic of KISS and quite frankly that’s the incredible venue that the Abbotsford Entertainment & Sports Centre has become.
The City of Abbotsford should consider itself blessed because it has one of the best concert venues in Canada. With comfy seats, amazing acoustics, a perfect view from anywhere in the place, and with KISS taking over, it was a perfect night in a perfect arena in one of the nicest city’s in BC’s Lower Mainland. Abbotsford Rock City, indeed.
KISS – Abbotsford, June 27, 2011
Modern Day Delilah
Let Me Go, Rock 'N' Roll
Do You Love Me
Calling Dr. Love
God of Thunder
I Love It Loud
Detroit Rock City
Lick It Up
Shout It Out Loud
Rock And Roll All Nite