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Concert Review .....3/23/00 Oakland Arena
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Gene Simmons{short description of image}
KISS said it's the farewell tour because they wanted to go out on top. Ask anyone at the Oakland Area on Thursday night, and they'd tell you that's exactly what they did. The show began with all four members standing on a platform high above the stage, as exploding flash-pots declared their presence. The platform lowered to the stage, and the members took their positions, with Criss climbing stairs to reach his elevated drum set. The group launched into the opening number, "Detroit Rock City," while fans - many of whom were clad in their own Kiss costumes - pumped their fists and shouted along in the name of " Rock 'N' Roll". While many performers disdain living in the past, KISS thrives there. It was classic KISS, and the crowd roared its undying approval. You can't help but admire the dumb brilliance of it. The costumes, makeup and personas that once made them the object of critical scorn now turn out to be an ageless marketing concept that even Mick Jagger must be kicking himself for not thinking of. It's no surprise that makeup, wigs, hair dye and costumes can cover a multitude of age-related sins. And fireworks, columns of flame, spitting blood, fire-eating, flying stunts and the like can make songs that have been played at every show for a quarter-century seem fresh and alive again. And Simmons' legendary tongue has grown only more practiced and toned over the years. From the classic riffs of Shout It Out Loud to Ace Frehley's note-perfect solo in Firehouse, KISS gave fans exactly what they expected. Simmons gave a bass solo and flew into the rafters; Paul Stanley flew across the arena for a mini-set on an island in the crowd. The propane torches during Heaven's on Fire could be felt halfway back in the arena. A feeling of nostalgia came during "Do You Love Me," when the massive center-stage screen showed old concert and interview footage from throughout Kiss' career. "This song asks a very personal question," Stanley said. "And I want a very personal answer." The retrospective ended with the message "We love you" shown in huge black letters. Kiss - who formed in 1973 and departed from their original lineup seven years later - reunited in 1996 to stage their hugely successful Reunion Tour. Two years later, they released their first studio album in nearly 20 years, Psycho Circus, and followed with another top-selling tour. One distinguishing factor between the current tour and Kiss' two previous outings is the inclusion of songs from their non-makeup period, after the original lineup changed. This tour brought "Heaven's on Fire" and "Lick It Up" from that era, both of which saw the band displaying a four-on-the-floor togetherness. Everything the critics ever hated is still there in its full glory. Which is why the fans still love these guys. So what's the harm?

By Randy Cohen

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   Kiss Members Are !
Gene Simmons - vocals, bass Paul Stanley - vocals, guitar
Ace Frehley - vocals, lead guitar
Peter Criss - vocals, drums
Paul Stanley 

Ace

Peter Criss

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