Kiss And Mötley Crüe At Cricket Wireless Amphitheatre
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By Crystal Larsen
Chula Vista, Calif.
Anytime a major summer concert tour is simply billed, "The Tour," you know it's got to be big. As I settled into the Cricket Wireless Amphitheatre in Chula Vista, Calif., on a very hot Aug. 12 night, I was prepared to see two of the biggest rock and metal acts around: Kiss and Mötley Crüe, who are co-headlining what is certainly shaping up to be one of the biggest tours of the summer.
Having never seen either of these acts before, I sat in anticipation as an onstage screen reflected a Mötley Crüe clock that was counting down to the band's entrance. And a grand entrance it was. I was fixated on the red-robed, ghoulish-looking figures sauntering around onstage before I noticed that behind me a parade of Crüe members was making its way through the amphitheater. Frontman Vince Neil was proudly waving a Mötley Crüe flag while bassist Nikki Sixx and drummer Tommy Lee shot canisters of smoke into the crowd. Supporting the foursome were several scantily clad women that resembled one of the major themes that surfaced again and again throughout the Crüe's set: girls, girls, girls, and more girls.
As the band reached the front of the house, smoke and fireworks began to billow from the stage, dancing to the hum of the amplifiers. As each member took their stage position, no less than five women performed an impressive array of aerial acrobatics while suspended from what looked to be one of the most dangerous stages ever created. In an ode to their beginnings on the Sunset Strip, the band kicked off with "Saints Of Los Angeles." The wild ride continued with crowd favorites "Shout At The Devil" and the band's recently released single, "Sex," the latter of which Neil introduced as one of his "favorite subjects to talk about."
Taking the set down a few notches, the band performed "Home Sweet Home" featuring a beautiful piano intro from Lee. Lee spent half of the set firmly planted behind his drum set, but as I admired the spiral rollercoaster-like contraption his kit was planted on I knew something was coming. Full of expletives and a brandishing bottle of champagne, which he kindly handed to someone in the front row, Lee took hold of the show and launched into his drum solo, which he performed while turning completely upside down on his rock and roll rollercoaster set to the tune of Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Love Rollercoaster." The band ended with "Dr. Feelgood," "Girls, Girls, Girls" and "Kickstart My Heart," the latter of which was introduced by guitar licks from Mars that resembled a motorcycle being kicked into gear. The band didn't exit the stage before pouring buckets of water onto their onlookers.
But the Crüe were only half the excitement.
As Kiss prepared to take the stage a long black curtain was dropped embroidered with the band's recognizable logo in sparkling silver. As I waited for two of rock's most revered figures, Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley, to take the stage, I was kind of scared. I've heard of this band nearly all of my life, but never witnessed them live, so I had no idea what to expect. Would the fake blood that pours out of Simmons' mouth exit in a projectile fashion? Would there be more water thrown into the audience and, if so, is it really water? With those questions unanswered, the curtain dropped and as Kiss took the stage I was immediately taken aback with what I was seeing. There was fire; Kiss displayed in bright lights; metal; makeup; boots that were clearly made for more than walking; and much more. I can't even remember if I took a breath for the remainder of their set.
"Detroit Rock City" was up first, but being possibly over-stimulated with all that was happening onstage and the sheer fact that I was finally seeing Kiss, it wasn't until "Shout It Out Loud" that I really settled into the performance. With Tommy Thayer on guitar and Eric Singer on drums, the 13-song set was exactly what I had in mind. Simmons breathed fire on "Firehouse" and spit blood during his bass solo, and Stanley took a ride through the crowd to perform "Love Gun," landing atop a circular stage set up behind the soundboard.
A few particular highlights for me came with songs that featured minimal effects: "War Machine" and "Black Diamond." I didn't know a word to "War Machine," but by the end I was shouting along to the chorus. The energy emanating from the crowd of metal fist-pumpers was infectious. During the performance of "Black Diamond" I was particularly impressed by Singer's lead vocals, which I would have liked to hear more of.
Bringing the set to a close was the eponymous rock anthem "Rock And Roll All Nite," Singer, Simmons and Thayer were placed on platforms rising up from the stage while Stanley stayed put in the center. Before he kissed the crowd goodnight, he took his shiny-black electric guitar and smashed it to the ground as celebratory confetti fell over the Kiss Army.
By the end of the night I felt like I had just ran a rock and roll marathon, or gone to Kiss Army boot camp. Either way, my rock and roll heart was definitely kickstarted.
To catch the Tour in a city near you, click here for tour dates.
"Saints Of Los Angeles"
"Shout At The Devil"
"Same Ol' Situation (S.O.S.)"
"Don't Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)"
"Home Sweet Home"
"Girls, Girls, Girls"
"Kickstart My Heart"
"Detroit Rock City"
"Shout It Out Loud"
"I Love It Loud"
"Hell Or Hallelujah"
"God Of Thunder"
"Lick It Up"
"Rock And Roll All Nite"