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KiSS and Motley Crue turn Raleigh into Rock City

By: PJ Richardson
Photography by Hunter Elliott

If you are looking for an exciting, excessive, theatrical, Rock and Roll spectacle, I can’t imagine anyone better than KISS. Their show includes copious amounts of pyrotechnics, amazing lighting, CGI images, and video effects. And, of course, it also includes the costumes and makeup KISS is known for, and Gene Simmons trademark fire breathing, blood spitting, and tongue gestures, all performed to the legendary rock of KISS. When you add the bawdy, rebellious, rockers of Motley Crue (still hungry from their recent comeback that began as a residency at the Vegas Hard Rock) you get an explosive, electrifying, experience that can be topped by few, if any, in the world.

The show began as the house lights dimmed and Motley Crue opened a barrage of sound and light. At first glimpse of the set, it appeared that they had a circular setup of lights much like Pink Floyd and others have used. There was a huge circle of rails (about 30 feet in diameter) that extended upward from the top of the stage with Tommy Lee’s drums on the bottom edge. But, as I’ll explain later, this was something much more spectacular than lighting.

The stage floor was covered in a white and red Motley Crue logo, and simple red and white flags with the letters MC adorned the stage. Video screens were all across the stage, both in back and on the front sides, and large metal industrial fans rotated on the middle of the stage below the drums. The set also included an extensive array of lighting and pyrotechnics.

They had several sexy, backup singers and dancers in salacious, skimpy costumes that roamed across the set singing and performing some quite memorable stunts. After performing “Wild Side” Motley Crue played one of my favorites from adolescence, “Shout at the Devil”, complete with extended guitar solos and breaks. Then a 20ft woman on stilts wearing a huge hoop dress comes out, lifts her dress, and another dancer emerges from underneath with a guitar for Vince. They then played “Same Ol’ Situation“and “Looks that Kill” with the dancers and singers now clad in red white and blue with US flag patterned pants.

Later they did a new song titled “It’s all about Sex”. Water cannons were located on each side of the stage, and as the song ended the crowd was sprayed and the stage was filled with smoke. After the smoke cleared, only Tommy Lee remained. He began a unique drum solo where he created an industrial, techno, rhythm collage. I could not distinguish what sounds were coming from where, but it was a mixture of drums, loops and sounds triggered by drums, and samples from other electronic or dance music. To top that, he played while the drums rode on the loop of rails I mentioned earlier. He played and rode his drums around the loop (even stopping upside down) like some sort of drum coaster carnival ride. Tommy even let a fan strap in and ride along for a bit.

The rest of the show included “Home Sweet Home” with Tommy playing the intro on a mirrored piano. It included a Bass guitar that shoots fire, a gorgeous performer in skimpy leather doing acrobatics hanging from the rails of the “drum coaster”, and a dancer on stilts with an angle grinder (catch the show if you want to know what she does). The Crue finished up the amazing show with “Primal Scream”, “Doctor Feel Good”, “Girls Girls Girls” (which began after some simulated motorcycle riding) and “Kickstart My Heart”.

Now it was time to bring out the really big guns. Motley Crew’s set was dismantled to expose the Massive KISS Set. The entire back and sides of the stage (and anywhere else they could find) was covered in video screens that stretched much further than the ones used for Crue. In front of these, a massive drum platform sat at about 30 feet high, atop rows of guitar amps. Around each side the set were more lighted platforms that extended out like stairs to the main stage floor.

KISS made a grand entrance by dropping down from the ceiling, on a platform hung by cables (minus Eric Singer who was on his drums), while playing “Detroit Rock City” as smoke billowed across the stage. Images including a bad-ass CGI KISS car were projected on the video screens and the song ended with the booms and sparks of pyrotechnics. Gene Simmons then stood center stage and sang “Shout it out Loud”. He really gets into character with his facial expressions and gate, and has an amazing presence in his steel-teethed platform boots, make-up, bat-winged cape and horned shoulder pieces. As was done many times, the iconic KISS logo done in white lights was displayed across the back of the set.

Paul Stanley then stoked up the crowd a bit before starting “Creatures of the Night” from “Living Loud”. He told everyone “It’s not about us…it’s a celebration about you”, before illuminating the crowd with intense white light. The audience responded with a wave of cheers and noise. During “FireHouse”, there were real flames and digital flames all over the set, and Gene brought out a lit torch and breathed fire across the stage. Paul Stanley rode a rope to a platform in the middle of the audience to perform “Do You Love Me”, but only after making the crowd peg his giant noise meter.

After “War Machine” and “Shock Me” there was a drum and guitar duet. The Drum platform was raised high into the ceiling for Eric’s feature. Guitarist Tommy Thayer shot fireworks from his guitar and Eric fired a bazooka.

After the song “Hell or Hallelujah” from their upcoming release “Monster” it was time for the Bass feature. Gene Simmons performed a short solo with blood spilling out of his mouth and then was hoisted up into the air onto a platform in the ceiling. From there he played “God of Thunder” with the rest of the band. KISS did a rendition of “Lick It Up” with a bridge that unexpectedly, but pleasantly, sounded like the Who’s “Won’t get fooled again”.

Eric Singer sang “Black Diamond” and the band froze for a few seconds as the song ended with only the KISS logo in lights displayed across the back of the stage. Then KISS thanked everyone and walked off stage. KISS then returned to blow the roof off with “Rock and Roll all Night” as an encore. The show ended with smoke, bright white lights, cheering fans and an enormous amount of confetti.

by Sue Hardee

Also on the bill were a group of young rockers from Cambridge, UK who call themselves The Treatment. Prior to the show at Walnut Creek, we had the opportunity to interview lead vocalist Matt Jones.

When asked what The Treatment’s musical influences are, Jones said “anything with good songs really, but mainly AC/DC, Judas Priest, Sex Pistols with a little bit of The Beatles, too!” The guys all developed their musical abilities at a very young age and picked up their love of classic rock and roll from listening to their parents’ albums. They grew up listening to Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, and many others. Having a collective love of rock and roll helps the band members mesh well.

The band members each have a hand in the writing process. “We all write, then we put it in a big pot and we work on it with our Producer/Manager Laurie Mansworth. Then, we record it. It’s a very enjoyable process and works well for us,” says Jones.

This tour is the band’s first nationwide tour and they are stoked. In addition, the band has toured with Alice Cooper, Black Stone Cherry, and Steel Panther.

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