Anyone who knows me, whether it be in real life, here on Lunch.com, or on Facebook or any number of other social arenas, knows that I am a huge KISS fan. What some of my newer friends and acquaintances might not know is that when I was younger, I was an even bigger Motley Crue fan. I used to smuggle their albums like Shout At The Devil and Girls, Girls, Girls into my bedroom so that my parents wouldn't catch me listening to the Crue's music. They were raunchy, had album artwork and imagery that referenced Satan (although they are anything but Satanists), and sang songs about sex, drugs, and rock n' roll. Needless to say that I was forbidden to see them in concert when they made it to a city within driving distance of my home.
Whenever KISS and Motley Crue announced earlier this year that they would be touring together for the first time since the Crue opened for KISS way back in the early 80's, I was ecstatic. Two of my favorite bands (both being by favorite and different points in my life) were combining forces to put on a spectacle that I was sure would blow me and every other fan of KISS or the Crue out of the water. As soon as tickets went on sale, I secured two seats and prepared myself for the ultimate concert for a guy like myself.
When August 3rd finally rolled around, I drove to the north Houston suburb of The Woodlands with a friend and we headed to the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion with our tickets in hand. Once we arrived, we hung out briefly in front of the venue until the House of Blues Courtesy Tent opened up. Entrance into this tent gave you partial access to the show (the gates were still locked), but more importantly, the tent served ice cold drinks and grub until the gates opened. All of this was in a climate-controlled tent that was much nicer than standing out in the 90+ degree heat of east Texas.
Once the gates opened, I headed for the merchandise tent and grabbed a KISS t-shirt. Then myself and my friend headed for our seats and waited for the first band, a young glam metal act from the United Kingdom called The Treatment, to take the stage. I knew nothing of these guys except that they were from the UK, but when they started playing, I immediately became a fan. They opened their show with Drink, F*ck, Fight, which is about as self-explanatory as you can get. From there they played hard rock and glam-infused tracks like Shake The Mountain and The Doctor. I would rate their set as 4/5 stars.
After their set, which ran a little over thirty minutes, the crowd was pumped up. The band headed to the merchandise area and took photos, talked to fans, and signed autographs. I managed to get a photo with the lead singer and the rhythm guitarist. Both of these guys were really cool and I hope that the band eventually hits the big time. If you enjoy hair metal circa 1986, you'll love The Treatment.
After getting the quick photo, myself and my friend headed back to our seats and awaited the first of my heroes that I would be seeing that evening: Motley Crue. A large clock counted down to their set, and when it was time for them to take the stage, Vince Neil, Nikki Sixx, and Tommy Lee literally paraded out through the crowd just five rows away from me. I was excited beyond belief. Mick Mars met them on the stage and the headed straight into Saints of Los Angeles. It was at this moment that I noticed a couple of things about the Crue. Firstly, Mick Mars was on fire on the guitar and secondly, Vince Neil was apparently only capable of singing (more like mumbling) the first few lines of each verse and then promptly turned the microphone to the crowd to finish the lyrics. Mars, Sixx, and Lee were outstanding. They entertained the crowd, played out their hearts, and had fun on the stage while tearing throug tracks like Live Wire, Dr. Feelgood, Home Sweet Home, and Kickstart My Heart. They also performed the title track from their new album Sex.
The stage show featured ribbon dancers, scantily clad backup singers (who did a better job than Vince Neil), a flamethrowing bass, and Tommy Lee's rollercoaster drumkit. It was quite a spectacle to see, but I was a bit let down by Vince Neil in the end. The show lasted about ninety minutes. I give Sixx, Lee, and Mars 5/5 stars and Neil 2/5.
Then it was time for my current heroes to take the stage. I was already aware of the fact that their set was chopped in half due to the fact that it was a co-headliner tour, but I knew that KISS would give 100% in their show.
The black "KISS" curtain draped the stage and the crowd went nuts. They chanted and cheered until that world famous line was uttered: "Houston, you wanted the best and you got the best, the hottest band in the world....KISSSSSSS!" The curtain fell, the stage exploded and the Demon, the Starchild, the Spaceman, and the Cat pounded out Detroit Rock City for their fans. They went on to play classics like Love Gun, Lick It Up, Shout It Out Loud, Firehouse, Cold Gin, Shock Me, and I Love It Loud. They also squeezed in Hell Or Hallelujah from their upcoming album Monster and gave the crowd a treat when they played War Machine from Creatures of the Night.
The shortened setlist and time constraints meant less banter with the crowd, but Paul Stanley managed to get in a few good lines for the KISS Army in attendance. Paul's voice held up quite well, despite having recently had throat surgery. Musically, the band was tighter and louder than Motley Crue, but there were a couple of miscues during the set. Gene Simmons repeated the second verse of Shout It Out Loud while singing that song, and immediately after playing War Machine they started up the opening riff again. Stanley played it off for the crowd, jokingly saying, "You thought we were gonna play it again?"
Simmons spit blood, blew fire, and flew into the rafters as was expected, and Stanley soared into the crowd to perform Love Gun. Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer were amazing, removing any doubts that they don't belong in the band. To be quite honest, these two guys inject new life into the group, and I'm glad they are a part of KISS.
The show ended with Rock And Roll All Nite and a ton of confetti, smoke bombs, and fireworks. When KISS finally left the stage, I wanted more. Hopefully they'll be returning to the Houston area soon without the Crue in tow. I give their show 4.5/5 stars, taking that half star off for the miscues.
Overall, the show was excellent. I refused to let Vince Neil's poor performance ruin my overall experience at the show. The Treatment rocked, 3/4 of the Crue was on fire, and KISS dominated the show. It was definitely a spectacle to see.
Rock on, kiddies!
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