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Sunday, 3rd August 2014

Camden, NJ - Media Reviews

Def Leppard and Kiss strut their stuff in New Jersey By Chris Junior

Even the most casual fan in attendance had to know what to expect from Def Leppard and Kiss before either one played a single note at the Susquehanna Bank Center in Camden, N.J., on Aug. 3.

With the bands serving as co-headliners, that essentially meant shorter-than-usual sets (about 75 minutes each, as it turned out) loaded with signature songs. But there wasn’t any noticeable dropoff in their respective stage productions, and the Camden crowd constantly expressed its appreciation for the theatrics and graphics that enhanced the music.

Following its live finish to the studio version of The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” Def Leppard launched into “Let It Go,” the lead track from 1981’s “High ’n’ Dry” album. After that, the band’s focus was mostly huge chart hits and FM rock-radio favorites, among them “Animal,” “Love Bites,” “Pour Some Sugar on Me” and “Hysteria” (during which late guitarist Steve Clark was shown in video footage and still photos). The other exception was another “High ’n’ Dry” track, the instrumental “Switch 625,” which Def Leppard seamlessly transitioned to following an impressive acoustic-to-electric rendition of “Bringin’ on the Heartbreak.”

Covering all parts of the stage, Joe Elliott provided a crash course in how a frontman should work a crowd: thrusting his microphone forward to encourage fans to sing along (and sometimes clapping in appreciation when they did), employing the tried and true come-over-here index-finger motion along with the I-can’t-hear-you ear-cupping move, even throwing in a raspy insert-state-here crowd acknowledgement (“Whaddaya say, New Jersey?” he said during “Two Steps Behind”). Guitarists Phil Collen and Vivian Campbell played with precision, ease and flair, but - like always - they avoided the extensive, gratuitous noodling and comical mugging often associated with hard-rock solos.

Kiss leaders Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley are no slouches either when it comes to showmanship. Early in Kiss’ set (kudos to the band’s lighting staff), which began with the one-two punch of “Psycho Circus” and “Deuce,” bassist Simmons customarily flashed the entirety of his reported seven-inch tongue, and guitarist Stanley placed a pick on the tip of his own (considerably shorter) tongue. Later on, sparks flew from the headstock of Tommy Thayer’s guitar, and Simmons spit up fake blood prior to the stomping “God of Thunder.”

Like the old saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it - and by sticking with what works best, Kiss once again satisfied its wide-ranging fan base.

The Def Leppard/Kiss tour continues Aug. 5 at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. That show will be followed by 17 more concerts in North America, the last of which is scheduled for Aug. 31 at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion in The Woodlands, Texas.

By Goldmine Magazine 2014.

Kiss and Def Leppard share the stage in Camden By Rob Nagy

With the summer concert season rapidly coming to a close, one of the season’s blockbuster tours, “Heroes of Rock 2014,” featuring Kiss and Def Leppard, recently landed at Camden, New Jersey’s Susquehanna Bank Center.

Opening with fan favorite “Rock! Rock! (‘Til You Drop),” Def Leppard (featuring Joe Elliott (vocals), Phil Collen (guitar), Rick Savage (bass), Rick Allen (drums) and Viv Campbell (guitar)) was greeted enthusiastically. Their 75 minute set offered the metal band’s classics “Photograph,” “Heaven,” “Pour Some Sugar on Me,’ “Let’s Get Rocked,” “Bringin’ on the Heartbreak” and “Hysteria.” The veteran rockers kept the crowd on its feet. A video montage of vintage TV screens, 1960’s retro hotel, club and bar signs and a photo journey depicting the history of Def Leppard played out behind the band. Interspersed were real time live images of the band on stage. They closed out their set with “Rock of Ages.”

It is always great to see Def Leppard, one of rock and roll’s hardest working bands, actively on the concert trail. However, on this night the sheer volume of the bass and drums drowned out the rest of the band. Elliott seemed to struggle to hit notes that were once routine, and back-up vocals were off key. All of this made for a disappointing showing by a band that is capable of a much better performance.

Following a 20-minute intermission, Kiss hit the stage.

It has been quite a year for Kiss. Celebrating their 40th anniversary as well as their controversial induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, there is no middle ground for this glitzy, faced painted foursome. Founding members Gene Simmons (bass & vocals) and Paul Stanley (guitar & vocals), Eric Singer (drums since 1991) and Tommy Thayer (guitar since 2002) currently comprise the group.

Routinely taking their music, image and stage production to the limit, the band is famous for merging simplistic rock songs with outlandish costuming, a captivating light show and crazy pyrotechnics. All of this makes for an unforgettable spectacle that can best be described as a “Rock and Roll Circus.” Kiss is one of those bands that you hate to love and love to hate.

Opening with the song “Psycho Circus,” Simmons and Stanley were a dominating presence, working fans into a frenzied state from the outset.

Systematically and meticulously moving from song to song, Kiss delivered a wildly entertaining show. They played many fan favorites, including ”Deuce,” “Shout It Out Loud,” “Lick It Up” (combined with the Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again”), “Calling Dr. Love,” “Love Gun” and “Detroit Rock City.”

Simmons used the song “Hotter Than Hell” to provoke his infamous fire breathing antics by spitting flames high into the air to the delight of the crowd.

Midway through the show, Simmons took the spotlight for a second time. Standing in a haze of stage fog as he played his bass solo, he regurgitated blood all over himself before launching into the song “God of Thunder.”

Near the close of the show, Stanley, lifted by a cable and nearly touching the audience, was carried to a small circular stage midway back while performing the Kiss classic “Black Diamond.”

Instead of exiting for the standard curtain call, Kiss remained on stage and closed out the night with rousing renditions of “Detroit Rock City” and their signature song “Rock and Roll All Night.”

Accompanied by explosives, flashing lights and non-stop fireballs, Stanley removed his guitar and proceeded to smash it into pieces before tossing it into the crowd to end the night resoundingly.

By The Mercury 2014.

KISS Susquehanna Bank Center By Matthew Unversaw

KISS, newly inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame this past April, played the Susquehanna Bank Center in Camden on Aug. 3. This was the third of three dates in New Jersey over two weeks and the second of a South Jersey back-to-back double-shot, having played a rare appearance in Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall the previous night. As part of a joint summer tour with Def Leppard, this is also the 40th anniversary tour for KISS celebrating the history of the band. From the makeup days of the ’70s, to the unmasked days of the ’80s and early ’90s, to when they put the makeup back on in 1996 on their reunion with original members Ace Frehley and Peter Criss, few in the music industry can match the kind of ride co-founders Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley have had over the last 40 years. Going on with Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer in Ace’s and Peter’s respective make-ups may be controversial to some, but Tommy and Eric prove they put their all into a true KISS show.

The show actually starts in the parking lot, however. As I parked my car, I saw the people tailgating as if they were at the Super Bowl, and children were painting their faces in the guises of the Demon, the Starchild, the Spaceman, and the Cat. Adult, so-called, cosplayers were already in makeup and costumes. One of the most creative was a Gene Simmons in a medical lab coat with Dr. Love on the nametag.

The Dead Daisies from Sydney, Australia, opened up the night, walking out fittingly to AC/DC’s “Rock ‘N’ Roll Damnation.” This was only their second night on the tour with KISS and Def Leppard, the first being the previous night in Atlantic City. Their sound was a polished hard rock with songs like “Lock ‘N’ Load” and their new single “The Face I Love.” They ended their set with a cover, a truly heavy version of the Beatles’ “Helter Skelter.”

Def Leppard sounded as perfect as ever, having learned to layer their vocals many years ago with John “Mutt” Lange. The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again” introduced them and the band finished the song live starting with the scream recently famous from CSI Miami as the Def Leppard curtain dropped. Joe Elliott took a lesson from Steven Tyler of Aerosmith and performed with a scarf tied to his mic stand. From there it was a collection of DL classics, starting with “Let It Go” to the likes of “Foolin’,” “Hysteria” and more. Def Leppard made a good use of the video screens that they shared with KISS, especially for songs like “Love Bites.” Dio and Whitesnake alum and recent cancer survivor, Vivian Campbell, was paid tribute to as Joe Elliott introduced him as “the boy who put the ‘fast’ in Belfast.” Campbell then started off “Armageddon It.” A nice touch was Joe speaking about the shared support of KISS and Def Leppard for the Wounded Warrior Project at the start of their encore. He then called upon their own so-called wounded warrior, Rick Allen, for the famous start of “Rock Of Ages,” followed by “Photograph” to end their set.

The KISS show itself was a mixture of new and old. Missing was the classic giant lighted KISS logo sign, but the huge video screen behind the band made up for it, mimicking the said logo whenever the occasion called for it. The new addition of the gigantic lighted spider that hung overhead and also served as a lighting network and a platform for the band at times is truly amazing.

“Psycho Circus,” title-track from the 1998 album, started off the show, followed up by the classic “Deuce,” after which Paul Stanley spoke about being in the Hall Of Fame now and saying it was because of the fans. He sounded a lot happier about it now, putting behind all of the controversy and conflict that led to them being inducted. Other classics followed such as “Shout It Out Loud” and “War Machine,” among others. Gene came out and breathed fire after the return of “Hotter Than Hell” to the set instead of the usual “Firehouse.” He also spat blood just before the classic “God Of Thunder,” as usual, but did not fly up into the air as he has for the past several tours, presumably because they had to leave room for the giant spider overhead. Paul still did his own flying routine, however, traveling out to a mini stage in the audience for “Love Gun” after making sure he is invited by the crowd. Another surprise addition to the set was “Hide Your Heart” from the Hot In The Shade album, which has not been played on a full tour in years. Curiously, they did not play any songs from their newest album, Monster, which they did play the first single from on their last American tour before the album came out.

Probably the biggest surprise change in the show was near the end after “Black Diamond,” where, instead of going backstage and coming out for the official encore, Paul explained that if they went backstage, it would mean they were not playing for them, the fans, and then went into the double finale of “Detroit Rock City” and, of course, the “rock ‘n’ roll national anthem,” “Rock And Roll All Nite,” complete with confetti flying everywhere. Admittedly, there were some who were still wondering what happened to the encore, but the stage time still matched up with Def Leppard’s, who still took a few minutes out for the encore illusion.

KISS gave a good representation of their 40 years despite the time constraints of sharing the stage in a double-billed show, and it was great for the old and new fans alike.

By The Aquarian 2014.


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