Written By Braddon S. Williams aka “The Concert Critic”

On this date in history, 8/31/2019, Kiss brought The End Of The Road Tour to Deer Creek, effectively completing a circle that began with my very first concert in 1976.

Kiss played the old Market Square Arena that long ago night (with support from Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band and Artful Dodger). Tickets for that first show were $6.50…yeah, you read that correctly! Times have changed quite a bit since then. Tickets for this one ran me considerably more than that, and to make matters worse, we didn’t even get an opening band this time. Instead, we got a painter. Yes, a freaking PAINTER! In his defense, David Garibaldi has talent with his brushes, but somehow a balding guy wearing a leather jacket and prancing around on stage while Guns ‘n Roses and Aerosmith songs are piped in over the PA is a pretty lame substitute for a live band. Enough about that guy…let’s talk about the main attraction.

Kiss delivered the goods and put on a pretty incredible display of an epic arena show. The staging was on a grand scale, the lighting was on par with a Hollywood blockbuster, the sound was suitably huge, and the band performed with admirable energy. Was it perfect? Of course not. Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons (the 2 remaining original members) both struggled vocally. Stanley, in particular, sounded ragged from the moment he delivered his first of many between-songs speeches very early in the show. To his credit, Paul never made excuses, nor seemed to back off at all in his delivery, which always seemed to be in a quest at 100% effort.

Luckily, the Kiss Army were there in force to lustily sing along with all those arena sized choruses. Yes, you can say what you will about Kiss, but Stanley and Simmons have crafted an arsenal of classic material that lies firmly in the pantheon of rock music that will endure for generations to come. These songs were born for the big stage and they shine brightly in that environment eternally.

Tommy Thayer, sporting the costume and signature face paint of Ace Frehley, possesses none of Ace’s originality as a guitarist, but is a solid player nonetheless. Thayer’s solo spot was fun, complete with the rocket shooting guitar shtick made famous by Frehley.

Eric Singer, on the other hand, is a far better drummer than Peter Criss, and played a crowd pleasing drum solo mid-set that undoubtedly bought Stanley and Simmons some much needed vocal rest. Singer also sang and played a piano with enough sparkle to make Elton John green with envy on Criss’s big hit, Beth, during the encore.

Was this truly the end of the road? I find it difficult to not be more than a little cynical regarding this question. It seems as if Kiss have been on their farewell tour for at least 20 years at this point, but if it is indeed the end, Kiss have gone out with dignity and pride.

I started playing guitar because of Kiss. Would I have found my desire to do so without them? Most likely, but I don’t ever have to answer that question, because there is zero doubt in my mind that Kiss were the ones who lit that spark within me.

Thank you, Kiss…for everything…Love & respect, gentlemen! You were glorious on August 31, 2019. I wanted the best, and I got the best!

On This Day in History

When it comes to cannabis, Gene Simmons of Kiss is no dope.

The rock legend is looking to help Canadian citizens legally “party every day,”

That’s right folks, KISSPENSARY.  When asked how KISSPENSARYs will sent themselves apart from other marijuana dispensaries, Simmons said, “Because as you all know KISS is awesome.  Not only will we have KISS bongs shaped like our heads, KISS rolling papers, KISS grinders, and KISS vape pens, we have also had our very own strain of KISS marijuana made: KISS Kush.  Also, with every purchase, people will receive a copy of Carnival of Souls and a Peter Criss head coffee mug which we have tons of from our failed KISS Coffeehouse in Myrtle Beach.  It’s going to be very exciting.”

“I’ve never rolled anything, smoked, ever been drunk, nothing in my mouth save Aspirin maybe,” said Simmons, 68. “I’m straight, and always have been.”

So why is the towering bassist who describes himself as “perpetually sober” joining up with B. C.-based Invictus MD Strategies Corp as the chief evangelist officer for “Canada’s Cannabis Company?”

hard rocking entrepreneur explained his reasons for getting involved with the firm to the degree that it’s Toronto Stock Exchange listing is GENE.

He delivered his points with all the passion of a preacher, too, and is even on record saying it’s OK for people to consume cannabis recreationally.

“Three years ago, I was dismissive, arrogant and uniformed about medical cannabis and thought the whole notion of its medical uses as so much smoke and mirrors,” Simmons said.

“But over the last few years, I’ve started to see the tremendous new information that scientists and researchers have been telling us about the incredible uses for this humble plant that just grows there in the ground. I’m incredibly bullish on the product and, particularly, on this company.”

Canadian cannabis companies are forbidden from using celebrity endorsements, but Invictus CEO Dan Kriznic and crew brought Simmons on board as an active partner with a track record in brand marketing. His tale of business acumen can be found in his books On Power and Me, Inc.

Having a man who made millions selling Kiss brand Air Guitar Strings — nothing more than a band label affixed to an empty plastic bag — for $4.99 on your team can’t be anything but a boon for business.

“We just built 33,000 square feet of new facility about a 20 minute drive away from my hometown of Edson, AB., and took Gene up there to take a look around,” said Kriznic.

“Another 23 strains were just brought into the country from The Netherlands which all have varying levels of CBD, THC, etc. for a wide variety of medical uses from seizure syndrome to pain management and so forth. There is still a lot of research being done, and it’s moving really fast.”

Simmons agrees, noting that legislation is slow and plodding far behind the science. Fear of public positions against greater access to medical and recreational marijuana plagues legislators, too, he said.

“But, on the other hand, cigarettes are legal and might give you cancer,” said Simmons. “I’m not here to wave the flag, but I do firmly believe that everyone should read up on the research and all of the amazing things that are coming out. Obviously, big pharma is probably not too pleased about this arising from a simple plant God put in the ground.”

Throughout his entire career, Simmons ran his band like a business, too. Kiss is one of the most successful brands in entertainment, with so many product lines and cross-marketing that it’s hard to keep tabs on them all. Just don’t make the mistake of using anything from the band without permission. Simmons protects his logos, images, music, you name it.

He says that this comes from having a “big picture” understanding of business and freely admits that he is not the details guy. He has been drawn into many of his diverse ventures, more often than not, because he established a personal connection.

Anti-Drug Rock Star Gene Simmons Has Entered The Legal Weed Industry

Written By Braddon S. Williams

Kiss: The Originals

Okay, so I’m breaking the rules a little bit on this one…but they’re MY rules, so you just have to deal with it! Actually, the first 3 Kiss albums were eventually re-released in one package and titled “The Originals”, so I could claim a technicality if it really mattered.

Anyone who knows me at all already knows that Kiss were a big deal in my musical heritage. Upon seeing the first album cover for the first time, something inside me clicked and I knew that I must learn to play guitar.

The first Kiss album that I ever purchased was Hotter Than Hell, and it still holds point of pride as one of my favorite records by the painted ones.

Dressed To Kill was awesome because it proved the boys looked just as cool in suits as they did in their stage costumes.

Since I already did a review of Kiss Alive! much earlier in this big project, I am going to concentrate on the songs from the initial 3 albums that didn’t make it onto that monumental live album. Since nearly all of the debut made the cut, the only song worth mentioning is Let Me Know. It dated back to when the band was known as Wicked Lester.

Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons sang co-lead vocals, and a killer guitar break was added on to beef up the song. This bridge part eventually got tagged onto the song She and became a showcase for Ace Frehley’s lead guitar work.

Hotter Than Hell featured a few absolute gems, including Going Blind and All The Way, both sung by Simmons, Comin’ Home by Stanley, and Strange Ways, featuring drummer Peter Criss on vocals and an absolutely chromosome rearranging guitar solo by Frehley (that still gives me goosebumps every time I hear it). Dressed To Kill had a trio of Paul Stanley tunes; Room Service, Anything For My Baby, and Love Her All I Can, Gene Simmons contributed Two Timer and Ladies In Waiting, and Ace Frehley penned Getaway (sung by Criss).

Back then, Kiss put out a new album every six months (that’s correct…no typo!), meaning that the first two records dropped in 1974 and Dressed To Kill and Alive! both hit the stores in 1975.

Thank you, Kiss, for all that you did for us young heavy metal maniacs. I, for one, am eternally grateful!

https://youtu.be/EQi0ilHkOMQ

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

Written By Braddon S. Williams

Kiss: Ace Frehley

During my formative years as a budding guitarist, Kiss was my biggest inspiration. They were also the headliners of 2 of the first 3 concerts I ever attended.

When all four of the original members of Kiss released solo albums in 1978, I was most excited to hear what lead guitarist/spaceman Ace Frehley would come up with. Needless to say, Ace did not disappoint!

His solo disk proved to be the biggest hit of the bunch, and the most critically acclaimed. Although Ace didn’t write it, he had the biggest hit single of any of the Kiss solo records with his cover of New York Groove ( a Russ Ballard song originally recorded in 1975 by a British glam rock band called Hello). Frehley gave the tune a soulful, vaguely disco-inspired groove and hit the charts with a vengeance.

The rest of the album was more typical of the work Kiss was famous for…hard rocking gems like Speedin’ Back To My Baby, Rip It Out, Ozone, Snowblind, I’m In Need Of Love, and the killer instrumental Fractured Mirror.

Anton Fig supplied killer drums to compliment Ace’s wall of guitars and surprisingly solid vocals.

The other Kiss solo records all have their moments, but Ace Frehley is the one to own, because it definitely owns all the others!

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

Written By Braddon S. Williams

KISS: DESTROYER

Like their arch rivals (at that time) Aerosmith, Kiss also became global contenders in the hard rock pantheon in 1975.

The following year, Kiss enlisted former Alice Cooper producer Bob Ezrin to mastermind their Destroyer album.

Ezrin brought a sophistication and polish to the table that resulted in a more diverse selection of music for the hard rocking, makeup wearing superheroes of the stage.

Kiss scored their first platinum album, due in large part to the gigantic success of the single Beth, written and sung by drummer Peter Criss.

Paul Stanley handled lead vocals on the lead off epic, Detroit Rock City, as well as the excellent King Of The Night Time World, Flaming Youth, and Do You Love Me.

Gene Simmons contributed the fan favorite God Of Thunder, Sweet Pain, and Great Expectations, and shared lead vocals with Stanley on Shout It Out Loud, a kind of sequel to Rock And Roll All Nite.

Ace Frehley handled most of the lead guitar work (with a little help from Dick Wagner, on loan from Alice Cooper’s band).

It was on the Destroyer tour that I witnessed my first live rock concert, featuring Kiss, Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band, and Artful Dodger (tickets were $6.50!) Needless to say, between the concert and the Destroyer album, I quickly enlisted in the Kiss Army!

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

Okay, let’s be clear…Kiss Alive! was a game changer. How much or how little of it was actually recorded live is a moot point by now. This record influenced myriads of musicians famous and non-famous alike. It launched Kiss into the stratosphere of ’70’s arena rock in a way that none of their studio albums ever could. Kiss was born for the stage, born for the visual and visceral live experience, and this album distilled everything they did well. High energy anthems delivered at top volume with over the top crowd raps by Paul Stanley, scorching guitar solos by Ace Frehley, a long drum solo from Peter Criss, and Gene Simmons in all his demon bat glory. All their early classics are represented…Black Diamond, Firehouse, Deuce, She, C’mon And Love Me…and of course, Strutter. You wanted the best and you got it…the hottest band in the land…Kisssssssssss!

Written By Braddon S. Williams

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

On this date in history, 12/11/1977, I saw a truly legendary show. Kiss played MSA with this unknown band from Australia called AC/DC! To top it off, my friends and I were in the front row, crushed up against the barricade.

This was my third concert ever, and my second time seeing Kiss. Let’s begin at the beginning…I can’t overstate just how amazing AC/DC were that night. I was mesmerized from the opening chords. Angus Young was running full speed back and forth across the stage, occasionally hitting the ground and bloodying his knees or simply spazzing out on his back while never missing a note in his frantic lead playing.

As amazing as he was, I couldn’t stop watching Bon Scott. He was one of the first rockers I ever saw with tattoos, and his voice was a whiskey soaked, balls to the wall powerhouse. The songs were loud, tight and in your face, and although I had never heard a note of their music prior to that evening, I left there a lifelong fan! Near the end of their set, Bon and Angus left the stage, leaving Malcolm Young, Cliff Williams and Phil Rudd onstage rocking like their lives depended on it. After the whole crowd roared and a spotlight went to the back of the arena, we all turned to see Bon Scott with Angus on this shoulders on the walkway between the upper and lower seating areas. The band was playing “Bad Boy Boogie” and Angus kept playing lead as Bon carried the thrashing wild man all the rest of the way around the arena and back onto the stage! It was a good thing for Kiss that they had all their pyro and awesome theatrics, because AC/DC came perilously close to stealing their thunder! But, luckily for us fans, Kiss did indeed bring the thunder. Back in those days, they put out a new album every 6 months, so even though I had seen them the previous year on the Destroyer tour, this time around they had already released Rock And Roll Over and Love Gun, so they had a ton of new songs to unleash to the hungry hordes in attendance at this show. Being as close as we were to the stage, my friends and I acquired a few souvenirs from the action. One of my buddies momentarily had his hands on a piece of the guitar that Paul Stanley smashed near the end of their set, but it was a feeding frenzy that he was destined to lose! I still have one of Paul’s guitar picks and a little piece of the towel that Gene Simmons wiped his face with after he spit the fake blood during his bass solo! Sorry for the novel (NOT!) but like I said, this was an EPIC show…one that changed my life…yeah, I saw Bon Scott from the front row…definitely worth bragging about!

Written By Braddon S. Williams aka The Concert Critic

On This Date in History

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On this date in history, 8/17/2003, my inner teenager was treated to a concert dream come true. Aerosmith and Kiss (with Saliva…who didn’t matter, as we arrived late and missed entirely) appeared together at Deer Creek in a truly epic match up.

When I was growing up and first discovering the joys of rock music, both Kiss and Aerosmith were in the process of conquering the scene, and dominating my formative musical taste. Back in those pre-MTV days, we learned about bands through magazines like Circus, Creem, Hit Parader, and to a lesser degree, Rolling Stone. Word of mouth was key, also, as anyone who saw a great band would have bragging rights and our undivided attention as they regaled us with the sights and sounds of their concert experiences.

Kiss and Aerosmith were direct rivals in those days, and sometimes the bands took shots at each other in the press. I remembered all this and was thrilled to learn that they would be touring with each other and possibly taking the rivalry to the stage in a battle of the ’70’s titans.

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Kiss played first and unleashed a monster set of primarily songs from their first 3 albums, so it was like Kiss Alive! was being performed before our eyes. Of course, Ace Frehley and Peter Criss had been replaced by guys who were forced to wear the classic makeup, a point that I take issue with, but it is the way that Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley want it, so we just have to deal with it. That small complaint aside, it was a great Kiss show, and all these many years into their career, that remains a beautiful thing.

Aerosmith closed out the night with a barrage of greatest hits and classic bad boy swagger. The Toxic Twins (Steven Tyler and Joe Perry) brought their “A” games and they held serve. Each fan will have their favorite of these two monumental American bands, providing endless fun debates, but I like the idea that we all win in this type of scenario. These bands have long since ended whatever war they had going on back in the day, but that competitive nature provided all of us with a concert for the ages.

Written By Braddon S. Williams aka The Concert Critic

On This Date in History

On this date in history, 8/2/1976, I saw my very first rock concert. This was my Pandora's Box, the one that started a lifelong obsession. The show was at Market Square Arena in Indianapolis, IN, and featured Kiss, Bob Seger And The Silver Bullet Band, and Artful Dodger. My father drove me and a couple of my friends there and back, seeing as how we were all 14 years old at the time. Tickets were $6.50 to see Kiss and Seger…seems like science fiction, right? I have so many memories from that first show. The general atmosphere inside the smoke filled arena (with the No Smoking sign on the giant scoreboard suspended from the ceiling, barely readable through the haze…and not all of it was cigarette smoke!), the sight of all those people, rock fans just like my friends and I (we were part of a movement…a tribe!), and the folks passing around a joint and offering it to us kids. Believe it or not, we politely declined…that time! When the lights went out and Artful Dodger hit that stage, I just grinned and let the music wash over me. I didn't know any of their songs, but it was gloriously loud, electric, and exciting. When Bob Seger and his Bullet Band followed, it got even better. Seger was touring in support of his incredible 'Live' Bullet album, and Night Moves was right around the corner. There was a palpable feeling that this band were already headliners. "Katmandu", "Turn The Page", and "Travelin' Man" were all superb. I distinctly remember Bob's sax player, the wonderfully named Alto Reed, standing atop the massive stack of PA speakers and wailing away on a solo on his shining golden horn. As great as Seger was, my buddies and I were on a holy mission to see our heroes, Kiss. I was literally transfixed by the sight of the larger than life (7 inch platform boots made them seem impossibly tall) superstars of my musical universe. From Gene Simmons breathing fire and vomiting stage blood during his bass solo, to Ace Frehley shooting sparks from the headstock of his Les Paul, to Paul Stanley's strutting, preening rock stud shtick, to Peter Criss bashing away on his huge chrome plated drum kit, this performance is indelibly tattooed on my teenage brain. Kiss had just released Destroyer, the album that (along with Kiss Alive the previous year) made nearly every young male rock fan in the country want to enlist in the Kiss Army! This show changed my life. This is where it all began. Thank you, Kiss and Bob Seger…and even Artful Dodger, for making my first time an event of a lifetime!

Written By Braddon S Williams aka The Concert Critic

On This Date in History