Friday Night: KISS At The Woodlands
For more photos from the show, see our slideshow here.
There are those who say that KISS is dying. Fans have heard this before.
Even before WWII, fathers sternly told their children that comic-book superheroes were not real, that the storylines were just fluff and that young boys' imaginations would eventually mature and merge someday with real life, that our comic books and our oh-so-perfect heroes would become a distant memory, just an adolescent phase like our love of popular music. And then everyone saw their imaginary superheroes walking across the stage, playing guitars and singing lyrics that were real and meant just for those of us who wanted to believe.
Our fathers were wrong.
KISS is either like going to church or going to the circus. Friday night the lights dimmed, the band was shown backstage walking toward the curtain via a giant screen, and when all went black, the entirety of the Woodlands heard (and chanted along to) KISS' signature entrance: "You wanted the best, you got the best. The hottest band in the world... KISS!"
And Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer took the stage as the crowd cheered. Simmons and Stanley, the only two remaining original members, were the stars for most of the evening, but Singer and Thayer got their chances to shine later on in the set.
They began with a song off their new album, Sonic Boom, and followed it with a song off their first. The rest of the night was mostly older material, with the band playing a total of about seven songs off their new album. KISS performed for close to three hours, beginning a little after 8:30 and finishing up just before 11:30 p.m.
About halfway through the show, Aftermath began to wonder if Stanley dyes his chest hair. Then we realized, "Of course not. KISS keeps him young."
Every couple of songs, three of the members would slip backstage - we assume to reapply makeup) as one of the four entertained the crowd with fireworks - dialogue or high-flying stunts like when Simmons was lifted above the rafters as bells rang ominously.
The crowd was riled up by Stanley, who reminded them that KISS would be visiting Dallas the next night, when he challenged Houstonians to be a better, louder crowd, to prove to him that we were a rock and roll city.
Their encore, which lasted for about 45 minutes, began with Singer performing "Beth," originally written and sung by Peter Criss. While the vocals weren't quite as raspy as the original recording, Singer's interpretation was strong, and the crowd was receptive.
Near the end of the encore, three Marines joined KISS onstage, and Stanely began to wave an American flag. "These are the heroes of the 21st century, the heroes of modern America," Stanley said as the crowd roared. "Now Houston, Texas, you are about to send a message to all these brave men and women... they may not hear the message, but they will hear about the message."
Led by Stanley onstage, the entire crowd then recited the Pledge of Allegiance, and the guitarist then presented the Marines with a check for $405,308 made out to the Wounded Warriors Care Project, which provides services to severely injured veterans. (KISS is donating one dollar from every ticket sold on its current tour to the project.)
The moment was heartwarming, and the Pavilion shook beneath our feet. Then one Marine, who had stood still and kept a stoic face throughout the cheering, fist-bumped Gene Simmons.
Aftermath has now seen everything.