KISS in Ottawa - With Photos!

By Andrew Depedro, Ottawa Corespondent
Wednesday, September 9, 2009 @ 7:10 PM

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As frequently as I complain about the mundane routine work that makes up my various government contracts which are, in turn, the main employer in this fair city, I still give thanks that my job isn’t important enough to be affiliated with the public scrutinizing and the stress that make up being the mayor of this fair city. The salary and the public adoration – to some degree – is a good incentive to feel like waking up in the morning and all but the pressure to be accountable to the public to perfection can break a person. Not to mention there’s the stigma of blunt responsibility that goes along with presenting a negative image of the city and its respected constituents to the international community.

This revelation came to my attention on the same day that the Ottawa city council first decided to grant Shannon Tweed her own official day on the same date as this concert – July 15 – and then rescinded the offer immediately afterwards when an opposition councilwoman questioned what exactly has Shannon Tweed ever done for Ottawa. Critics scorned the acting mayor for doing too quick of an about-face on the offer and being too inexperienced to comprehend the protocol of such a nomination, women’s rights groups were outraged that Shannon Tweed was using her fame as being Mrs. Gene Simmons to bolster a nomination as being one of Ottawa’s most prominent citizens when she wasn’t even born in the city (she’s originally from Newfoundland) and Gene Simmons was beyond pissed off at the sudden brush-off/disrespect towards his not-really-his-wife. And Shannon Tweed? Um, she didn’t see the big deal over the whole thing and upon hearing the reaction that ensued, was said to have let out a resounding “meh” and resumed looking up friends on the Facebook Ottawa network for an upcoming reunion to commemorate the four months that she lived here. Really.

But luckily I did. The old adage of no publicity being worse than bad publicity is indeed valid but so is the adage that bad publicity is still bad publicity no matter at which angle you view it from. And the fact that Gene was bringing along his camera crew from his reality show Gene Simmons’ Family Jewels to record some of the tour’s behind the scenes for future episodes was seen as a good opportunity for tourism officials to promote Ottawa in a more positive aspect as being more than just a typical capital city that runs on politics. Simply put: I just don’t like seeing my city being embarrassed in this manner on the world stage by politicians claiming to represent the entertainment industry on the city’s behalf. Call it civic pride or self-promotion on my part through bragging rights via my reviews or something of the matter but many of my favorite bands, when touring, often pass through Ottawa without giving it a second glance on their tour schedule and many of us unable to take the day off to see the shows in either Montreal or Toronto get ostracized for missing out. Lately Ottawa’s been scoring a major coup in landing Metallica, AC/DC and Stone Temple Pilots among other big name bands for shows. We’ve finally established ourselves. And all it took was an anal-retentive councilwoman fuelled on women’s lib and moral authority to almost ruin Ottawa’s attempts in shaking off the tag of “the city that fun forgot” for at least a day or two. But seeing as Gene decided not to cancel the concert out of spite (not that he ever would have contemplated it in the first place), it looks like there’s still something to review after all on one of the few days off I had from volunteering at this year’s Bluesfest.

With that said why a band like KISS could even fathom thoughts of having the blues in the first place is odd. Their income rivals the GDP of many a third world country both through endless touring and even more endless – if not questionable – merchandising strategies and Gene Simmons alone has banged over 5000 groupies in the band’s heyday according to urban legend. Their critics often range from uptight 50-something pro-feminist councilwomen from Barrhaven to anonymous Internet trolls on Blabbermouth that listen to the likes of Isis and Sigh and little else in the metal scene, sharing only one common bond – their favorite bands are unlikely to put on an incendiary show in the near future like KISS did that July evening. And the lineup for this year’s Bluesfest could only get better after two consecutive years of Rihanna and Fergie, right?

“I think you all came for some rock ‘n roll” – Paul Stanley

Damn yeah we did. Cue the explosions as the first chords to opening number “Deuce” are thrown down. Even with sporadic periods of drizzle the band delivered tenfold on their promise to make sure that this concert would be all-thrills with no expense spared on the special effects. And with drummer Eric Singer and guitarist Tommy Thayer taking the helm from Peter Criss and Ace Frehley respectively on this tour we thankfully were spared another lousy rendition of “Beth” which I heard Peter Criss manage to botch up the words to when I saw them in Saskatoon nine years ago (the first concert I ever reviewed for KNAC incidentally). Instead, the crowd of 30,000 at Lebreton Flats got treated to the Alive disc being played in its entirety to commemorate its 35th anniversary – the perfect culmination to my birthweek that same week. Familiar KISS standards from the epic live album like “Hotter Than Hell” and “Cold Gin” liaised with obscure tracks that hadn’t been part of the KISS setlist in a while like “Watchin’ You”, “Nothin’ To Lose”, “100,000 Years” (named after the length of Eric Singer’s long yet proficient drum solo that took place midway) and “Black Diamond”, all meeting with the same fiery reaction from the ecstatic crowd.

Upon the climax of playing Alive in its entirety Paul Stanley reminded us how Sarnia came dangerously close to kicking our ass when he noted a slight drop in crowd enthusiasm mostly due to many of us almost shouting ourselves hoarse throughout most of the concert at this point. He gave us one last chance after playing the intro to “Rock ‘N Roll All Nite” (with a bit of “Stairway To Heaven” confusingly thrown in for some sort of good measure), saw that the reception had greatly improved, changed his mind and proceeded to lead the band into the rest of the song as confetti was dropped into the crowd.

But the show wasn’t over yet. And God knows KISS would be the last band not to have prepared in advance their calculations on how much pyrotechnics they’d have left over for the second half of a concert like this. And this was solidified with the fireworks display that opened “Shout It Out Loud” which almost rivaled Canada Day’s closing ceremonies. “Lick It Up” was followed by Gene Simmons’ menacing and blood-drenched bass solo as his legendary tongue was all over that axe-shaped instrument of his, provoking, inviting, practically serenading the audience with its devious blood-soaked curl that’s been to the deepest annals of womanhood and back before cueing into “I Love It Loud”. Every male both on and off stage was seething with envy as to where that tongue has been since 1972 that night.

And then something else threatened to spoil the mood of the concert again:

Underage emo-core kids and their incredibly fucking gay invisible ninja fights in the front row just as KISS were about to launch into their disco-flavored hit “I Was Made For Lovin’ You”.

Once again: They were about to mosh TO MOTHERFUCKING DISCO MUSIC. Very hardcore, you prepubescent Snapple-sipping twat waffles.

But very dangerous and stupid. It caught Paul Stanley’s attention after he witnessed more than a few off-balance Chuck Norris roundhouse kicks gone awry and he laid down the law:

    “You want to start a moshpit then get the fuck outta here and find a fuckin’ death metal concert to do it in. These are OUR fans and OUR family. Don’t hurt our fans.”

    “Dude….is this your first fucking beer?”

And “I Was Made For Lovin’ You” took on a new form that night. Scene kids blow dogs for quarters.

Then Paul Stanley decided to connect with the audience in a new manner during “Love Gun” when he took off from the stage on a trap wire and performed the song on top of the Virgin Radio tent located near the sound engineering booth. It wasn’t all that new since I saw him do the exact same thing at the Saskatoon show in 2000 except at that show I was up close and personal with his mic stand; at this show I was too far to get a perfect shot of him with my camera during the performance but it was all good.

“Detroit Rock City” closed the evening with KISS using up the rest of their pyrotechnics in a dazzling display of chaos, showmanship and lots of guitar smashing from Paul Stanley, leaving the crowd satisfied as it took over an hour for grounds staff to usher out 30,000 fans through two available exits. Somewhere within that mass of humanity Shannon Tweed – spotted in the audience on the two huge Teleprompter screens – got a better impression of Ottawa through its grateful audience than from its city council whose public relations experience was sorely lacking that day. Nick was probably thinking about how to capture The Shannon Tweed Day That Wasn’t in comic book form while Sophie was probably beating up one of the emo kids that had been called out by Paul Stanley earlier just to add insult to injury (or maybe he was hitting on her during the concert). It’ll all come out on the next season of Family Jewels one way or another.

Now how will homegrown talent such as Alanis Morrissette and Sally Clelford be able to top this for their official commemorations?

Setlist in actual order:

  • “Deuce”
  • “Strutter”
  • “Got To Choose”
  • “Hotter Than Hell”
  • “Nothin’ To Lose”
  • “C’mon And Love Me”
  • “Parasite”
  • “She”
  • Tommy Thayer guitar solo
  • “Watchin’ You”
  • “100,000 Years”
  • Eric Singer drum solo
  • “Cold Gin”
  • “Let Me Go, Rock ‘N Roll”
  • “Black Diamond”
  • “Shout It Out Loud”
  • “Lick It Up”
  • Gene Simmons bass solo
  • “I Love It Loud”
  • “I Was Made For Lovin’ You”
  • “Love Gun”
  • “Detroit Rock City”

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