Kiss returned in force to a packed house in Michigan full of fans eager to prove this is still Detroit Rock City.

My journey to tonight’s Kiss experience of Aug 23, 2014 actually began back on Oct 29, 1976. I had just turned ten years old and was watching the Paul Lynde Halloween Special, which featured three songs by a make-up clad rock band by the name of Kiss. They performed “Detroit Rock City”, “Beth”, and “King of the Night Time World.” I was mesmerized and instantly hooked.

Through the years, there have been many comic books and action figures, and road trips to concerts and conventions. But tonight, after 37 years, I was going to meet my heroes.

Now as we all know, this could turn out badly. “You’re never supposed to meet your heroes,” some say. And it was a gamble I struggled with. $1000 for the VIP experience isn’t chump change and Kiss has got a cut of my allowance since I was 10 years old. Rather, I was making a memory… an indelible memory that would stay forever with me, be it good or bad.

At 3:45 pm, I lined up with fifty some others the DTE Energy Music Theater in Clarkston, Michigan. We were escorted inside to the Ivy Lounge, where a small acoustic stage was set up for the band. Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Eric Singer, and Tommy Thayer arrived without the legendary make-up and each took a turn singing. “Comin’ Home”, “Do You Love Me?”, “Shock Me”, and “Beth” were just a few stand out songs that made up the set.

Afterwards, we mingled as the band members came around to meet each of us and autograph items we brought. Paul and Tommy came around first and were pretty much all business moving from one person to the next.“…it was Gene that made the time spent truly special … he was genuinely interested in what a ‘middle-aged fanboy’ had to say” I was starting to feel a little let down and part of a corral until Eric came through and was a little more relaxed and chatty. But it was Gene that made the time spent truly special. He lingered a little longer with each fan and made me feel like he was genuinely interested in what a “middle-aged fanboy” had to say.

After the meet and greet, we were on our own to catch the Dead Daisies and Def Leppard. Both played great sets, but I was really impressed with how well Def Leppard looked and sounded. They played their hits and some deeper cuts, and the audience was dancing in the aisles. But for me, this was about Kiss.

At 9pm, we all met again and were taken backstage for photo with the band. Although it was strictly a line and two quick shots, the guys made it fun by singing along to KISS songs playing over the sound system. They genuinely seemed relaxed and having a good time. My photos were done and it was up to the pit to shoot KISS onstage for National Rock Review.

As the screen covering the stage dropped, KISS was onstage playing “Psycho Circus.” They followed with “Deuce” as their second song. Having finished my shots, I made my way to my seat just in time for “Shout It Out Loud.” It was a Gene Simmons vocal-heavy show and tonight’s rendition of “War Machine” was the best I have ever heard. It was like a kick to the chest… powerful and heavy!

Personally, I am beginning to like these co-headlining shows with KISS. It’s all meat and no filler when it comes to the set list. It has all the elements of a great Kiss show, yet at a constant barrage to the senses. Fire breathing during “Hotter Than Hell”, blood spitting during the bass solo and “God of Thunder”, Paul flying over the audience for “Love Gun”, and a few lesser played songs like “Lick It Up” and “Hide Your Heart” all made for a memorable concert.

The show finished right at 11pm and personally, I left satisfied. As to meeting my heroes, was it expensive? Yes. Would I do it again? Maybe not. But am I glad I did it? Definitely. I made an indelible memory and is the perfect bookend to my ten-year old “Flaming Youth”.

Here is a look at the full set list:
1. Psycho Circus
2. Deuce
3. Shout It Out Loud
4. War Machine
5. Hotter Than Hell
6. I Love It Loud
7. Lick It Up
8. Bass Solo
9. God of Thunder
10. Hide Your Heart
11. Calling Dr. Love
12. Love Gun
13. Black Diamond
14. Detroit Rock City
15. Rock and Roll All Nite

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About The Author

Thom has been hooked on photographing concerts since sneaking his camera into Cobo Arena for Van Halen in 1984. He put his away my camera in 1990 and didn't pick it up again until 2005, while following a favorite local band, Frequency 54. From there Thom started shooting more and more local acts, creeping towards shooting bigger names and bigger venues. Meeting new people and finding new music has been the biggest payoff for Thom thus far.

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