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Kiss brings legendary spectacle to SPAC

Kiss brings legendary spectacle to SPAC

The iconic rockers brought their pyrotechnic-fueled stage show to Saratoga
Kiss brings legendary spectacle to SPAC
Kiss' Gene Simmons on bass guitar performs at SPAC during their End of the Road World Tour on Saturday.
Photographer: Erica Miller

SARATOGA SPRINGS — If you want a guitar shooting sparks as flying saucers whir in the background, you’ve got it.

Or if you want to see a demon in kabuki-style spit blood while hammering on his axe-shaped bass, Kiss has that, too. 

The iconic rockers brought their pyrotechnic-fueled stage show to the Saratoga Performing Arts Center on Saturday, part of the band’s “End of the Road” farewell tour.

The band entered with a bang — literally — as a pair of flame-blasting canons thundered and emitted heat that could be felt 100 feet from the stage. 

“This is the last time we’re coming here,” said co-founder Paul Stanley. “This is the end of the road.”

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Of course, the band has called it quits before. But all signs indicate that the foursome will hang up the leather and spandex when the tour wraps in 2021. 

But the famously flamboyant foursome showed no sign of flagging energy in their two-hour set. 

Stanley and bassist and co-founder Gene Simmons, who turns 70 on Sunday, were in fine form and the gig contained all of the theatrics they became famous for: the glittery costumes, the blood, acrobatics, lasers and pyrotechnics. The non-stop cacophony of decadence elevated the event from a mere concert to a spectacle of pure sensory overload. 

Of course, Kiss knows this, which is why their fan base, dubbed the Kiss Army, keeps returning, with fans swapping war stories and singing along to every word. 

But beyond the theatrics and bombastic road show that has made them pop culture fixtures since the mid-1970s, there are the durable glam-tinged rock songs.

The foursome opened with a three-shot blast of anthems, including “Detroit Rock City,” and sailed through a set heavy on the classics, including fist-pumping “Shout it Out Loud” and “Deuce.” 

The doomy, foreboding “War Machine” saw Simmons emit his trademark fire-breathing as fog cloaked the stage. 

The band’s sense of pacing is polished to an art form, no doubt a result of five decades on the road.

Just when the energy seems to be waning, the band changes it up. 

Following several anthems custom-made for audience participation, including the singalong “Say Yeah," in which all four band members share vocals, an extended trio of songs midway through the set gave each member a moment in the spotlight. 

Slow-burning blues stomp “100,000 Years" featured an extended drum solo by Eric Singer, whose drum kit emitted white beams of light and levitated in the air.

Guitarist Tommy Thayer shredded solos and shot fireworks during crowd favor “Cold Gin.” 

And for “God of Thunder,” Simmons, outfitted with bat wings, spat blood while cast in a spooky green glow and elevated 50 feet in the air as bass dissonance rang down upon the crowd. 

Stanley preened and vamped his way through two songs, including the disco-tinged hit “I Was Made for Loving You,” after a harness whisked him to a temporary stage erected in the packed amphitheater. 

It’s widely hubristic and over-the-top — at times, the band performed in front of a vintage video of them performing —  but the Kiss Army wildly licked it up. 

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