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Concert Reviews:
Kiss, Def Leppard rock for all ages at DTE

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

Posted: Sunday, August 24, 2014

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INDEPENDENCE TOWNSHIP -- Somewhere along the line, Kiss has become a family affair.

Once decried as demonic presence and bad influence on America's youth, the quartet, currently celebrating the 40th anniversary of its first album, revels in the multiple generations it attracts to its shows. On Saturday night, Aug. 24, frontman Paul Stanley welcomed first-timers to Kiss' concert at the DTE Energy Music Theatre, promising "a night you will never forget." And later, with flood lights on the crowd, he pointed out young children who had come with their parents -- a substantial number sporting Kiss-style face makeup -- and promised that, "We were there for your parents, and we will be there for you."

So much for Disney On Ice, eh?

Kiss left no doubt as to what being there meant on Saturday, either. As much a Detroit favorite as homeboy Eminem -- who was concurrently playing the second of two sold-out shows with Rihanna at Comerica Park in downtown Detroit -- Kiss delivered its characteristically theatrical and pyrotechnic-filled spectacle filled with all the usual totems. Bassist Gene Simmons breathed fire during "Hotter Than Hell" and spit blood just before ascending to the top of the lighting rig for "God of Thunder." Stanley flew over the crowd to a rotating second stage in the middle of the DTE pavilion for "Love Gun," and Tommy Thayer's guitar "fired" sparks into the air, setting off other explosions at the end of "Lick It Up."

And nearly every song was accented with some sort of sonic boom, fireworks or columns of fire.

Kiss backed up the over-the-top sights with sounds, too -- mostly solid performances of 14 songs weighted, of course, towards favorites such "Deuce," "Shout It Out Loud," "Calling Dr. Love," "Black Diamond" and "Rock and Roll All Nite," but the group also dug a little deeper into its catalog for the opening "Psycho Circus" and "Hide Your Heart" from 1989's "Hot in the Shade." And then, of course, there was "Detroit Rock City," a love letter from Kiss to the town where Stanley crowed "it all began for us." "You are immortal," he told the sold-out DTE crowd before tearing into the anthem, and so, clearly, remains the relationship between Kiss and it's very favorite city.

Kiss wasn't the only headliner at Saturday's show, however. Tour partner Def Leppard delivered its own hit-laden 14-song set, coming on stage to Kiss' usual pre-show overture -- the Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again" -- and finishing it live as frontman Joe Elliott replicated Roger Daltrey's trademark scream. From there the quintet tore into the early career album track "Let It Go" before following with favorites such as "Animal," "Foolin'," "Love Bites" and "Let's Get Rocked."

The Leps had a few of their own surprises -- an acoustic rendition of the rarity "Two Steps Behind" as well as the instrumental "Switch 625" -- while Elliott sang a bit of Kiss' hit ballad "Beth" at the end of "Hysteria." Anthems such as "Armageddon It," "Pour Some Sugar On Me," "Rock of Ages" and "Photograph" made for a strong finish, and Elliott's promise that "there will be a next time" was greeted with the kind of roar that indicated many in the DTE crowd planned to be there to see it.

Those who caught the all-star Dead Daisies' opening set, meanwhile, enjoyed a pleasant surprise. Fronted by onetime INXS stand-in Jon Stevens and featuring members of Guns N' Roses, Whitesnake, Ted Nugent's band and more, the quintet played a half-hour's worth of workmanlike hard rock with plenty of style and assurance, particularly a charged "Face I Love" and a set-closing cover of the Beatles' "Helter Skelter."

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