KISS Brings the Freedom to Rock Tour to Rochester

It’s not often Rochester, NY gets a massive arena rock show. On Monday August 29, the Blue Cross Arena welcomed Rock and Roll Hall of Fame members, KISS. Monday night’s show marked the first time KISS had stopped in Rochester in over 15 years, the last tour being the Psycho Circus tour.

Before KISS stepped on stage to mark their return to Rochester, The Dead Daisies warmed up the crowd. To those who aren’t familiar with The Dead Daisies, they’re a pure Rock n’ Roll band that’s featured a who’s who of musicians over the years. The current lineup features singer John Corabi, lead guitarist Doug Aldrich, bassist Marco Mendoza, drummer Brian Tichy, and rhythm guitarist David Lowy. For those unfamiliar with some of the members, John Corabi was a member of Motley Crue. Doug Aldrich played guitar in Whitesnake and Dio. Marco Mendoza worked with Whitesnake and Thin Lizzy as their bass players. Finally, Brian Tichy spent some time handing drum duties for Ozzy Osbourne and Billy Idol.

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The Dead Daisies played a 10 song set which featured songs from a few different albums, including their newest, Make Some Noise. Songs like “Make Some Noise,” and “Long Way to Go” were both tracks that came from last year’s album. The band also threw in some cover tracks such as “Fortunate Son,” by Creedence Clearwater Revival. Fans who were there early seemed to really enjoy the set. The band themselves seemed to have a great time on stage together. There were guitar picks getting thrown all around the stage and out into the crowd. To cap off their set, the band invited fans to come meet them at their merchandise booth afterwards.

Before the black curtain dropped, fans heard “Alright Rochester! You wanted the best! You got the best! The hottest band in the world, KISS!” The curtain then dropped and fireworks and smoke filled the stage while Gene, Paul and Tommy were being lifted down from their center stage platform. KISS wasted absolutely no time and opened with one of the biggest rock anthems ever, “Detroit Rock City”. Complete with pyrotechnics and fireworks, KISS brought Rochester the show it’s been waiting for.

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Singer and guitarist Paul Stanley told the crowd they were getting a real rock show, without dancers humping each other, no musicians playing backstage and no backing tracks. It was incredible to see a band that started in the 70’s bring such a production and sound so good.

Before playing “God of Thunder,” Gene Simmons did his bass solo. Complete with dim lights, fog and undertaker-like music in the background, Gene’s platform in the middle of the stage rose to the top of the area. Once he was lowered back down is when the audience got to see the blood spitting and famous Simmons tongue action.

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Paul did most of the talking between songs throughout the night. He told the crowd that it started to feel like a circus and welcomed everyone to the show. From that point, everyone knew that the band was about to play “Psycho Circus.” The song started out with the vintage KISS logo flashing on the giant LED screens in the background. At the end, there was another burst of fireworks like many of the previous songs.

After “Psycho Circus,” guitarist Tommy Thayer took over vocals for the song “Shock Me”. During the song, since Paul Stanley didn’t have vocals to worry about, he decided to show off his guitar skills. With all sorts of tricks up his sleeves, Stanley started playing the guitar between his legs with ease. At the end of “Shock Me,” Thayer did a guitar solo that ended with rockets being shot from the headstock of his guitar. He shot one to one side of the stage and then walked to the other side and shot a second rocket in the opposite direction. Thayer then finished off the solo in the center of the stage and shot a rocket directly up in the air.

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A few songs later, Paul Stanley asked the audience, “How many of you people like to lick something?” After loud cheers back, Stanley said, “Rochester you are one dirty audience,” and the band went started “Lick It Up”. This track features more “pyro” from behind the band and lasers that shot around the venue. To add to the visual masterpiece KISS creates, drummer Eric Singer’s drum kit lifted up high in the air. Following along, the rest of the band got a lift up on their own platform in from of Singer.

When the band played “War Machine,” the LED screens had a war battle animation on them which was nicely done. The video showed a dragon that blew fire and the animation was perfectly timed with the pyrotechnics that went off on stage. KISS definitely has a great production team that helps them continue to put on one of the best live shows in the world. The end of the stage went dark with red spotlights circling around the arena. When the smoke filled the stage, Gene Simmons emerged with his lit torch and spit fire. This is something that Simmons has done for many years but never gets old and seems to always get better.

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The next song of the night for Rochester was “Love Gun.” Before the song started, Paul Stanley once again took to the microphone and asked how everyone was doing so far. He went on to say how the band started in NYC and how Rochester was pretty close to home. Then Stanley said, “For all the times we’ve been here, tonight I wanna be down there with you. But you have to invite me.” After that is when Stanley got on his zipline and flew to a platform at the back of the floor next to the soundboard.

With singer and guitarist Paul Stanley still at his platform in the back of the arena, he performed a chilling guitar solo with the disco ball reflecting purple lights. This then led into the song “Black Diamond.” The song kicked off as Stanley landed back on the main stage. Simultaneously, fireworks exploded and the band did their thing. Once again, Eric Singer’s platform rose in the air and two panthers were on the LED screen to each side of Singer.

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The encore kicked off slowly with the KISS classic, “Beth.” The song was sung by drummer Eric Singer who came down from his drum kit and stood front and center on the stage. Behind Singer was the rest of the band who performed the song with their acoustic instruments.

After “Beth,” the band brought out local military and gave them a salute. KISS had the crowd sing the Pledge of Allegiance before continuing to talk about their goals on the Freedom to Rock Tour. With the “KISS One Nation” on the LED screen, Stanley told the crowd that they were donating $150,o00 to the heroes. Stanley went to state that “patriotism is cool” and said “God bless America, thank you.” While the crowd roared in cheers of support, KISS started to perform the Star-Spangled Banner. Again, the center of the stage rose up with the band on board and the LED screen showed the Flag of the United States on it as more fireworks went off to help celebrate.

The evening ended in KISS fashion with “Rock and Roll All Nite.” The song was paired with endless confetti being shot from multiple areas. This was the perfect way to end the show. For those who may have missed KISS, do yourself a favor and check out their upcoming tour dates. They have plenty of shows scheduled in the New England region including shows in Connecticut and Massachusetts.

KISS Setlist: Detroit Rock City, Deuce, Shout It Out Loud, Do You Love Me, I Love It Loud, Flaming Youth, Bass Solo, God of Thunder, Psycho Circus, Shock Me, Guitar Solo (Tommy Thayer), Gold Gin, Lick It Up, War Machine, Love Gun, Guitar Solo (Paul Stanley), Black Diamond, Beth, The Star-Spangled Banner, Rock and Roll All Nite