KISS AND DAVID LEE ROTH PROVE TO BE ONE GREAT TOUR PACKAGE
Date: February 5, 2020
Venue: Keybank Center
Location: Buffalo, New York, USA
If someone would have told me back in the mid to late ’80s that I would get to see KISS perform live in make up, I would have never believed them. Yet that is exactly what happened when the original line-up of Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Ace Frehley and Peter Criss reunited for their very successful reunion starting in 1996. If someone would have told back in ’96 when I first saw KISS perform live in make up that I would end up seeing the band play live 12 times in make up, I would have thought you were nuts. But here I was about to see KISS for the 12th time live in make up, 14th time live overall and for the fourth time on their End of The Road World Tour. Back at the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Ontario, Canada in mid-August 2019, I really thought that I was seeing KISS perform live for the last time and I felt like I was ready to “let go.” Then a funny thing happened when KISS announced a new batch of dates throughout the USA for their End of The Road World Tour and interestingly enough, Buffalo was one of the stops. I simply couldn’t resist going to see KISS play live one more time. It was very easy to recruit my good friend Pierre who had accompanied me last summer to see KISS play live in Sunrise, Florida.
While a normal drive from Toronto to Buffalo might take about 1.5 hours, Pierre and I had to take into account the brutal Toronto rush hour traffic and unpredictability of crossing the border from Canada to the USA. Accordingly, we agreed to meet at my work office at 4:00 pm (which was on the way). To my surprise, Pierre showed up at least 20 minutes early but I still had a work rush to get through and by the time I changed to go to the concert, it was about 4:15 pm. Perhaps even more surprising, we really encountered very little traffic (thank God for those HOV fast lanes) and the border crossing was very quick. Our border crossing guard was in a joking mood and obviously had seen a few other Canadians before us that day crossing the border to go to the KISS concert. Downtown Buffalo at nighttime can apparently best be described as “sleepy.” The word “dead” is probably the better description. Pierre and I were able to find a place to eat and exchanged some fun “war” stories. Our lives are paralleled in many ways so we always have a lot of laughs together.
We made our way to the Keybank Center with about five to 10 minutes to spare before the 7:30 pm start time on our tickets. As an extra bonus, KISS finally dropped their terrible opening act (the painter David Garibaldi) for their first North American leg of their End of The Road World Tour in favour of Van Halen frontman David Lee Roth. Accordingly, there was a real reason to get to the venue on time for once. I had previously skipped Garibaldi‘s opening performance on two of the three occasions that I had to see him on KISS‘ “last” tour. As we were walking towards the Keybank Center, I noted to Pierre that there seemed to be a lot less people heading to the concert than when I had seen Iron Maiden at that same venue back in mid-August 2019. Just like for the Maiden concert, there were two army guys in green fatigues with machine guns at the entrance, which provided a sad but stark reality of the issues of gun violence and safety concerns in the States. Once again, Pierre brought his Kindle with him but he was able to get through security this time. When he tried to get past security with his Kindle for the KISS concert at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida, he was turned away (and had to bring his Kindle back to my vehicle in the massive parking lot) by the security guards who apparently could not understand that it was a Kindle rather than some computer tablet.
Eventually, we made our way to the escalators to reach the third floor level but the access was closed as we passed a long line of people. Instinctively, I knew right there and then that we would be getting a ticket upgrade. It was readily apparent why KISS had recruited Diamond Dave to open for them on this leg of their tour. KISS needed to sell more tickets and obviously, the painter David Garibaldi was a much weaker draw than Diamond Dave playing some of his best solo hits and Van Halen classics. I was right about the ticket upgrade as the two people ahead of us in the line confirmed that everyone (who had tickets in the third level) were getting ticket upgrades. How good were the ticket upgrades? Well, we went from tickets in the nose bleed section 327 to tickets in section 118 which was about halfway between the stage and end of the arena. Wow! All of a sudden, our $50.00 US (roughly with surcharges) tickets were a real bargain! At the end of the day, KISS were playing the Toronto / Buffalo area for the third time in 11 months so it’s not that surprising that ticket sales were “light” for their show on this night in Buffalo.
David Lee Roth:
The only downside to the ticket upgrade was that we ended up missing the first one and a half songs played by Diamond Dave, which were “You Really Got Me” and “Beautiful Girls.” I was a little bit concerned since Diamond Dave had only played eight songs on his first night opening for KISS four nights earlier. As Pierre and I made our way to our seats, the gentleman who was seated to my left (the stage was to our right) looked a lot like Sleaze Roxx writer Eduardo (who has been on a bit of a hiatus writing wise for the last few years) and I actually turned to my left a couple of times to make sure that it wasn’t Eduardo. Of course, it wasn’t Eduardo since he moved back to Mexico a couple of years ago but the resemblance was uncanny. In front of us was a couple with a very young child (who turned out to be six years old and apparently a huge KISS fan). My Eduardo looking neighbour to my left — although he told me his name, I forgot it — had some values as he quickly told me upon seeing the child, “no smoking!” I’ll get back to my neighbour to the left when I get to the KISS section of this review.
Diamond Dave was his usual self grinning away, doing a few high leg kicks, and dressed in a flamboyant red jumper like suit. The Van Halen frontman was backed by an able crew that were all dressed in black and seemingly confined to their positions towards the back. Clearly, David Lee Roth was the star and everything was focused so that all eyes would be on him. The stage set up was kind of disappointing as it would have been nice for Roth to have some kind of backdrop with his name on it. Obviously, the big question on any concert involving Roth is how will his singing be. This was only my second time seeing Roth live as a solo performer with my first time dating back to 1988 when he was touring in support of the his sophomore full-length solo album Skyscraper. Roth‘s vocals were pretty horrible and substandard in 1988 and he actually sounded better in 2020 than he did back then. Of course, it’s still early on the KISS tour so there’s plenty of time for Roth‘s voice to disintegrate further as the tour progresses. Nevertheless, the singer sounded pretty good to my ears and frankly, it was a real treat seeing him play live again as a solo performer. It was also nice to see KISS bring in a quality opening act for once. There is no question that KISS have had some amazing opening acts in the past as the list includes Iron Maiden, AC/DC and Judas Priest but in recent years, the band simply hasn’t brought out any quality opening acts or sometimes, none at all.
Considering that Roth is 65 years old, he moved around quite well on stage. The setlist was a good one and a much longer one than four nights earlier as Roth played 11 songs rather than just eight. I actually enjoyed his solo tracks the most, which consisted of the covers “Tobacco Road” and “Just A Gigolo / Ain’t Got Nobody” along with his hit single “Just Like Paradise.” The Van Halen cuts played by Roth were no surprise. You have to give credit to Roth for covering four of the seven studio albums that he did with Van Halen as four songs were played from Van Halen (1978), one song from Van Halen II (1979), one from Fair Warning (1981) and one from 1984 (1984). Given Roth‘s limited time as the opening act, he really didn’t address the crowd in any meaningful way. Overall, I thought that Roth put on a fun and entertaining set. I would have easily paid for a ticket just to see him perform so to have both Roth and KISS on one bill was fantastic.
David Lee Roth’s setlist:
01. You Really Got Me
02. Beautiful Girls
05. Jamie’s Cryin’
06. Tobacco Road
07. Runnin’ With The Devil
08. Just Like Paradise
09. Ain’t Talkin’ About Love
10. Just A Gigolo / Ain’t Got Nobody
David Lee Roth performing “Jump” live at the Keybank Center in Buffalo, New York, USA on February 5, 2020:
David Lee Roth opening for KISSBuffalo, NY @ Keybank Center
What can truly be said about KISS? They probably put on the best visuals at a concert. They still seem to have passion while playing all of their songs and they are simply legends, and especially when it comes to their live shows. Since I already kew what would be the setlist, which turned out to be very similar to the three previous times that I saw KISS on their End of The Road World Tour, the fun in that regard was gone. I pretty much knew the order of the songs as they were played. It was a real treat to hear “Tears Are Falling” and “Parasite” which were the only additions to the setlist since the first leg of their tour.
Getting back to my neighbour to my left, by the time KISS started their set, he had had at least three tall beers, and a few before coming to the venue from what I learned from him, so he seemed pretty liquored up. The alcohol coupled with seeing KISS live seemed to generate a limitless amount of energy for him. He screamed loudly. He sang loudly. He gestured with his arms. He sweated profusely. He seemed to be in a one on one conversation with Paul Stanley as whenever the KISS frontman asked a question to the crowd, my neighbour to the left would scream loudly in response as if Stanley was just talking to him. I have no doubt that whomever was seated next to this gentleman was fully aware of him as he was so loud. Pierre, who was seated to my right, couldn’t stop turning around to take a glimpse at my neighbour to my left. Pierre later admitted to me being annoyed with our loud “neighbour” but later on, simply being entertained by the energy and passion exhibited by the young man. In any case, I liked that I was able to stand for the entire night during KISS‘ set with no complaints from any of the people around me, many of which were seated for part of KISS‘ performance.
You’ve got to hand it to KISS. Every song is a spectacle in itself with more visual stimulation (but not in a chaotic way like Mötley Crüe) than any other band. Seeing 68 year old Paul Stanley and 70 year old Gene Simmons constantly moving around for about two hours in full KISS gear including presumably seven inch high heel boots was truly impressive. As Pierre noted, and from what I heard from quite a few other concert attendees as well, there is so much going on visually at a KISS show that odds are that you will be entertained regardless of whether you like KISS‘ music. My favourite songs played by KISS on this night were “I Love It Loud” with its easy to sing along sections, “War Machine” with its infectious riff, “God of Thunder” which had Simmons lifted high up into the rafters, “Parasite” which was one of two songs added to the band’s set, and “Love Gun” which had 68 year old Stanley “flying” over the general admission audience to a smaller stage. The one track that I could have done without was “Say Yeah” from Sonic Boom. I would have much preferred to hear something from Hot In The Shade (1989) or Revenge (1992).
As far as Stanley‘s singing, well, he wasn’t really singing since he strongly appeared to be using tracks once again. I am over it and frankly, prefer that to having Stanley butcher some KISS classics like he did back when my wife and I saw the band play live during its Las Vegas residency in November 2014. Overall, KISS ended up playing four songs from their self-titled debut album (1974), one from Hotter Than Hell (1974), one from Dressed To Kill (1975), four from Destroyer (1976), one from Rock And Roll Over (1976), one from Love Gun (1977), one from Dynasty (1979), two from Creatures Of The Night (1982), one from Lick It Up (1983), one from Animalize (1984), one from Asylum (1985), one from Crazy Nights (1987), one from Psycho Circus (1998) and one from Sonic Boom (2009). It was a great show and totally worth the pain and agony that I felt the next day at work after only getting 1.5 hours of sleep due to a work assignment that I had to complete at home after the KISS concert.
01. Detroit Rock City
02. Shout It Out Loud
04. Say Yeah
05. I Love It Loud
06. Heaven’s On Fire
07. Tears Are Falling
08. War Machine
09. Lick It Up
10. Calling Dr. Love
11. 100,000 Years (with extended drum solo)
12. Cold Gin (with extended guitar solo)
13. God of Thunder
14. Psycho Circus
16. Love Gun
17. I Was Made For Lovin’ You
18. Black Diamond
20. Crazy Crazy Nights
21. Rock And Roll All Nite
KISS performing “I Was Made For Loving You” live at Keybank Center in Buffalo, New York, USA on February 5, 2020: