KISS/Def Leppard – Blossom Music Center 08/26/14

One of the biggest rock tours of the summer steamrolled into Blossom Music Center on 8/26/14, and I feel it is safe to say not many people left disappointed. For me, this was not so much a night of nostalgia, but more a celebration of my lifelong love for music, especially KISS.

I made the decision to jump on the Live Nation Platinum Seats option once I saw that there were front row seats available. Although they were pricey, in retrospect, I would not hesitate to do it again. The night kicked off with a raucous set by The Dead Daisies, featuring the MONSTER drummer Brian Tichy. The band was incredibly tight, but I found myself so blown away with Tichy’s drumming, that I was having trouble even concentrating on the rest of the performance. I really liked what I heard, so I will definitely check them out further.

The stage was set for Def Leppard, as they opened to the strains of The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” They brought an amazing energy that the crowd was giving right back, with most in attendance singing along to hit after hit. Their set served as a great reminder of not only how many hit songs they had, but how incredibly memorable they all are. I am admittedly a casual fan, but I realized that those songs, whether pre or post ‘Hysteria,’ are embedded in my brain forever. The highlight of the set for me was when Vivian Campbell tossed a guitar pick to me, and I made a clean catch. They were incredibly professional, without seeming like they were going through the motions, but they were also having a great time. The crowd fed off of that, and looking around me, there were more smiles than I could ever count. Def Leppard more than surpassed my expectations, after not having seen them for 26 years on the ‘Hysteria’ tour. I found it interesting that it poured rain that night many years ago, and also started pouring during this show. I will definitely check them out again when they return.

When it came time for KISS to take the stage, I realized that I didn’t care that the curtain malfunctioned, and the band was revealed too early. I didn’t care that the “spider” lighting rig wasn’t functional that night. All I cared about was that my childhood “superheroes” were right in front of me, playing the music I love to the people that I feel such a bond with, the KISS Army. I will tell you with no hesitation that as much as I love Ace and Peter, Tommy and Eric keep this machine rolling, and help maintain the high quality of the overall performance. I am very grateful for that, because without them, there may not be a show at all. To be in the front row, able to make eye contact with Gene and Paul was something special beyond words. Knowing they are the same people whose pictures adorned the walls of my bedroom from the age of 2 1/2, and now they were directly in front of me within arms length, was a stunning experience. The setlist was again sort of a greatest hits type set, but things like that don’t matter much to me anymore. I just want these experiences to cherish before they are over someday. The most special moment for me was when Paul was directly in front of me, throwing pick after pick to the people in the rows behind me. I looked up and made a “what about me?” motion. He popped a pick into his mouth, pounded his chest, and spit the pick out right to me. It landed right at my feet, and I slammed my entire body down on top of it, landing in a huge beer puddle. That didn’t matter, as nothing could take away from the excitement of my new prized possession. All in all, it was a perfect night. I feel lucky to be part of such a great fanbase as the KISS Army, and to have chosen KISS as the band I have looked up to my entire life. Their music and presence has been there for me through good and bad, and will always continue to be.

Horns Up!