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Kiss gives Independence crowd the usual gaudy sights and sounds

Kiss is Gene Simmons, Tommy Thayer, Eric Singer and Paul Stanley.
Kiss is Gene Simmons, Tommy Thayer, Eric Singer and Paul Stanley.

Kiss came to town Wednesday night, its first performance in this area in nearly six years, since a Sprint Center show in December 2010.

The band unleashed its usual: a blitzkrieg of fog, fireworks and flash pots; lots of lasers and spotlights; blood and pancake makeup and glam fashion; some aerial gymnastics; and some of the best-known guitar riffs in rock ’n’ roll history.

It was a typical Kiss show in many ways but also one of its best Kansas City shows in more than a decade, perhaps because it took place in a venue smaller than normal: not Sprint Center, Kemper Arena, Municipal Auditorium or the amphitheater in Bonner Springs, the sites of previous shows.

This time, Kiss performed at the Silverstein Eye Centers Arena in Independence, a 5,000-seat venue, making it Kiss’ first performance in the home of former president Harry S. Truman. Politics weren’t the theme of the show, but they were kind of a sidebar.

Kiss has called this the Freedom to Rock Tour, for a few reasons, none nobler than its charitable support to military veterans, whom they honored. (On Tuesday, Kiss members Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley met with 50 veterans at Rock & Brews in Overland Park.)

During a ceremony toward the end of the show, the band gave a local veterans group a check for $150,000. That was just before Stanley led the crowd through a recital of the Pledge of Allegiance and before an instrumental version of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Around that pomp and circumstance, Kiss delivered about 90 minutes of primal rock ’n’ roll, a litany of greatest hits, favorite songs and deep album cuts.

The band opened with a standard, “Detroit Rock City,” a steel-toed pop-metal anthem from the “Destroyer” album, now 40 years old. From there it went further back, to “Deuce,” from the 1974 album “Kiss,” then back to “Shout It Out Loud,” another standard “Destroyer” track.

Despite the smaller setting, the production was large, loud and garish. There were plenty of pyrotechnics, lots of videos, lasers, spotlights, confetti, streamers and other visual stimuli and the usual rites and rituals of a Kiss show.

Simmons, during his bass solo, spit out a mouthful of simulated blood, and throughout the show he flashed and flickered his renowned tongue, which is the size of a small breadboard.

Stanley was on the move all night. When he wasn’t singing lead, he was dancing and traipsing about the stage, playing his rhythm guitar at his convenience, it seemed. He tossed a lot of guitar picks into the crowd, sometimes unconventionally. At least once, he popped one in his mouth and spit it into the crowd.

Lead guitarist Tommy Thayer was accorded plenty of spotlight, issuing several incisive leads and taking over lead vocals on “Shock Me,” a signature track from the “Love Gun” album. Eric Singer spent much of the night amid his mountain of drums and among a forest of microphones.

He emerged during the encore to sing the power ballad “Beth,” Kiss’ biggest hit.

The show was well paced, thanks in no small part to Stanley, who kept his banter and cheerleading to a minimum, plus the sound, which can be tricky in this arena if it’s not full enough, was above average. (The place looked about 80 percent full, close to 4,000).

Stanley, Simmons and Thayer all went airborne toward the end of the show.

Before “Love Gun,” Stanley rode a guide wire from the main stage to a satellite stage near the soundboard, which rotated slowly, like a turntable. During the song, the disco ball above him spit shards of light around the arena. During “Black Diamond,” he returned to the stage to join the band in a bow.

They would return for the encore: “Beth,” “The Star-Spangled Banner” and then “Rock and Roll All Nite,” their signature rock-party anthem.

During that song, Simmons and Thayer were lofted skyward on opposite sides of the arena as gales and blizzards of confetti and then streamers fell upon the crowd.

It was the usual fanfare at the end of a Kiss show, but this time it resonated more than usual.

Timothy Finn: 816-234-4781, @phinnagain

Set list

Detroit Rock City; Deuce; Shout It Out Loud; Creatures of the Night; Flaming Youth; bass solo; God of Thunder; Psycho Circus; Cold Gin; Lick It Up; War Machine; Love Gun; Black Diamond. Encore: Beth; The Star-Spangled Banner; Rock and Roll All Nite

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