KISS, Motley Crue at Comfort Dental Amphitheatre, 8/8/12 (photos and review)

After four decades as a band, the things about a KISS concert that stick are those you might imagine. KISS has released some of the most significant collections of live material (non-bootlegs) in rock — which means just about everyone on the planet has experienced KISS “live” in one way or another. The real deal, though, is incomparable.

I finally caught that real thing Wednesday night at Comfort Dental Amphitheatre, and I can tell you that the iconic foursome, indisputably, still brings it.


From the laser-bottlerockets and bazooka fire that spaceman Tommy Thayer and feline percussionist Eric Singer exchanged, to the demonic blood-vomiting and fire-spewing of Gene Simmons, the show offered everything a fan could want. Of course, Paul Stanley played the consummate frontman in the style he damn-near originated, constantly throwing out call and response challenges in that familiar New York accent.

KISS stuck with a comforting selection of classics, starting with “Detroit Rock City” and “Shout It Out Loud” in quick succession. Stanley mentioned old McNichols Arena shows – showing the band’s age – before jumping into “Love Gun,” with a zipline transport to a raised platform in the middle of the crowd. They filled out the set with “Shock Me,” “God of Thunder,” “Lick It Up” and a brilliant version of “Black Diamond” before an encore featuring the mega hit “Rock ‘N Roll All Nite.”

A wavering performance by Motley Crue paved the way for KISS. Led by an under-impressed Vince Neil, the band phoned in an insipid, maybe marginally adequate performance, despite pyrotechnics and a roller coaster drum setup. The fact that the has-been foursome and ridiculous go-go girls had to compete with the setting sun might have justified the laziness. But this band’s complete lack of moxie made it all but impossible to attribute its vapidity to anything but a lack of present day significance and little talent.

KISS setlist:

Detroit Rock City
Shout It Out Loud
I Love It Loud
Love Gun
War machine
Shock Me
Hell or Halleluja
God of Thunder
Lick It Up
Black Diamond

Rock’N Roll All Nite

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Billy Thieme is a Denver-based writer, an old-school punk and a huge follower of Denver’s vibrant local music scene. Follow Billy’s explorations at, and his giglist at Gigbot.

Karson Brown is a Denver photographer and a regular contributor to Reverb.