That's right, It's KISS on the big screen for 1 night only. The place is Detroit. The year, 1975 and 1976. The KISS phenomenon hits Detroit which is a love affair that will ultimately give birth to the KISS classic "Detroit Rock City."
Legions of KISS fans flocked to the movie theatre to see a concert, well, a movie of a concert. But it did have the concert like atmosphere as was obvious by the crew that was inside. And at the concession stand, some woman gets her candy and some dude is waiting by the napkins and says to her "what are you doing later." She says "I am here with my boyfriend" - dude laughs. I mean this happens at a concert not a movie theatre. Then as always with KISS, there is merch to sell. On my way into the theatre, some chick was spraying samples of the KISS fragrances on my arm. The slogan is "You never forget your first...KISS." I guess all the dudes can wear the "for him" and smell like Gene and all the ladies can wear the "for her" and smell like Paul. And as always, MORE merch. The film begins with Gene and Paul speaking to us in the present day and talking about the release of the upcoming KISSology Volume I 1974-1977 DVD which is in stores 10/31/06. As if all the previous greatest hits records/DVDS weren't the best of the best, Paul swears, this is the "big enchilada." This DVD will include the most obscure never before seen footage, which includes all the KISS members in tuxedos without makeup singing at Ace Frehley's wedding. OK... Volume I in stores on Halloween. The next volumes are promised by Gene in the film to be out in '07. And for those who are in the big apple, Gene and Paul will be in makeup at the Virgin Megastore in Times Square Halloween night promoting the DVD, then they will grand marshal the famous NYC Halloween parade.
Now, back to the film and back to Detroit. The first footage we see is what many KISS fans have seen before, but only in photos. This was the KISS phenomenon that began in Cadillac, Michigan. There was a local high school football team that had a terrible record and were in last place year after year. They could not win. The coach knows the players are KISS fans, so he begins to name plays after KISS songs (i.e. "strutter") and begins to play KISS music in the locker room. Low and behold, the team begins to win and ends up completely turning things around and in 1975 had a 7-2 record. The coach, the mayor, and the town of Cadillac invite KISS to come and celebrate in the 1975 homecoming big parade. KISS arrives to find not only the football team and cheerleaders all decked in KISS makeup, but the entire town including the mayor and politicians. The band is awarded the key to the city and are paraded on top of a big black car down KISS blvd in Cadillac. Paul says, "Thank you and I hope you never change the lock." The band proceeds to help some of the other local politicians do their makeup and pretty soon the entire town literally is dressed as KISS. After a little bit of running around and tossing the football with the football team, a big helicopter comes out of nowhere and lands on the field and KISS is lifted off to the next great event in KISSstory. You really got to see this to believe it. This was the beginning of KISSmania running wild and the beginning of the bond between the state of Michigan and KISS - more specifically, Detroit. As Paul says in his intro and in a way only he could, "Detroit welcomed us with open arms and open legs."
Next, we go to Cobo Hall, Detroit in1976 for the gig. The band opens with "Deuce" and then go into "Strutter." At this point, me and all else in the theatre completely forget we are in a theatre and act like the band is there in person. We are clapping after songs and cheering. Photos are being taken, flashes are going off. We are all grooving and moving like KISS is actually there. And for those who are not fans, well damn, this film is a reminder of the true pioneers KISS were as far as theatrical rock & roll goes. It is one of the best live shows ever put together. And this was in 1976.
Another thing that got my attention is that many forget how great of a guitar player Ace Frehley is/was and also, not only is Peter Criss one hell of a drummer with his Pearl Kit taking up the entire movie screen, but Peter can sing too. Ace and Peter were just as important as Gene and Paul. The four of them made it KISS not just Gene and Paul. This was the biggest thing I took away from this evening. Whatever Ace was on, damn could he solo. And Peter was incredible. His vocal contributions to "Nothin To Lose" and "Black Diamond" are tremendous. The guitar and drum solos were explosive. When Peter's solo finished, the entire theatre was clapping. Shit we believed we were really there in Cobo Hall, not Union Square. A few other gems of the evening, a rarity here, Paul Stanley was playing a flying V guitar for more than half the gig. Also - at the beginning of "Let Me Go Rock N Roll" Gene makes a mistake and begins to sing the first verse of "Rock n Roll All Nite." Finally, towards the end of the gig, Paul looks out and sees a few fans getting rowdy. In a way only Paul Stanley could do and say, he screams "Hey - calm down over there...This is a rock & roll party not a rumble."
Well shit, the entire theatre damn near soiled themselves. I have never heard laughter like that but c'mon - it's Paul. The same Paul who when KISS had the four SPIN covers, had his entire finger down his throat in his cover shot. I must mention again how great Ace was. The set list was genuine. All the elements were there; Ace's smoking guitar, Gene spitting blood and breathing fire, the confetti coming down at the end with the strobe light on (what, been there done that? No way - this is 1976 bitches) and the classic Paul Stanley breaking of the guitar and throwing it in the audience. The gig had many of the same tunes as the ALIVE album, but not the same order which was very cool I thought. At this point, their song "Detroit Rock City" is not born yet...but after this evening and reception by this city of KISS, Paul could have literally written the tune backstage afterwards. Don't forget, Kissology on 10/31 - and Gene/Paul at Virgin and also marshals of the Halloween parade.
For one night, we got it - the hottest band in the world.
SET LIST: Cobo Hall, Detroit 1976
"C'Mon And Love Me"
"Hotter Than Hell"
"Ace guitar solo"
"Nothin To Lose"
"Gene spits blood"
"Peter drum solo"
"Rock n Roll All Nite"
"Let Me Go Rock n Roll"