KISS & Aerosmith @ Madison Square Garden (11/16/2003)

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Artist: KISS and Aerosmith
Venue: Madison Square Garden (New York, NY)
Date: 11/16/2003
Label: Universal Music

As I begin to write this piece I wanted to say first off that I think I am a very lucky guy to have the chance to see shows at possibly one of the greatest arena’s ever built. “The Garden” as it is called by fans is the home of the The NY Rangers hockey and The NY Knicks basketball teams in addition to playing host to some of the most popular talent in the Music World . So seeing KISS on what they refer to as Home Ground is almost an out of body experience for me. As all fans know, KISS is from the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens. Each Borough is about a 20 minute cab ride from the City.

The big concert tour team-up this year in the States has been the KISS and Aerosmith shows. These two music giants have been combining their forces to deliver one of the best rock shows that can be witnessed. However, the KISS fan in me holds it sort of hard that they are essentially opening up for Aerosmith. It’s not the case, since as a shared double-bill one band has to go on first. I just think that in comparison to the recent Dave Lee Roth and Sammy Hagar shows that the groups should have swapped the lead or closing spot along the tour’s duration. I love the music of Aerosmith, but I have always felt that KISS was an act that was hard enough to open up for, let alone follow. In any event here are some items about the show. Over the Summer months, the group Saliva was opening up. I like a few of their tunes and was hoping to get a chance to absorb them in a live setting as I missed their set when I saw KISS over the Summer. However, this was not the case as a band who’s name I did not catch nor who’s music did I enjoy all that much opened the show. As someone who used to perform live, I give anyone credit for doing this type of gig. Yet given the price of admission on all the tickets from $55-$175 regular seat pricing (unless you got one of the PREMIUM packages that allowed for band interaction for $250-$1000) I think it would have been better to see a more established group as a starter act.

While the tune of “Won’t Get Fooled Again” by the Who came across the PA, I knew KISS was moments away. For several years this has been the tune that the band followed onto the stage. This time around, it seemed like a couple of minutes were being run behind so one more song was played before the lights went down. The familiar boom of the Announcer made me shake as I heard the words “ALL RIGHT NEW YORK, YOU WANTED THE BEST YOU GOT THE BEST, THE HOTTEST BAND IN THE WORLD KISS!!!!!”. From the top of the stage on a lighted platform rig came Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley and Tommy Thayer (who is now an official member of the band though he wears Ace Frehley’s makeup) as the music of “Detroit Rock City” began. The bombs and fireworks shooting off let the City know KISS had returned to us. “Deuce” was up next in the set with Gene rousing the audience. Before “Shout It Out Loud”, Paul announced that “it was good to be back home, and you know that a band like them could only come from a City like this one”. The response was thunderous, almost deafening, as New York City welcomed home their neighborhood super-heroes.

During “Let Me Go Rock & Roll” Gene announced “Tommy Thayer!!!!” as the guitar solo began. He is a great guitarist, I miss Ace a lot, but I don’t fault Tommy as he does a fine job. The show must go on they always say. I made note of that point because there were a lot of folks saying that Tommy was not even introduced, so there you have it. Paul then announced that they were gonna change things around, but instead they decided to play the songs we all remember and love. I had read on recent shows that they swapped a couple of numbers and in their stead played “Hotter Than Hell” and “Come On And Love Me” I actually would like to have heard those, but instead the group played “Lick It Up”. “Firehouse” was up next and this song is just so much fun live, especially at the end when Gene does the fire-breathing. To this day, I am still in awe of that action.

Also around the time of “Firehouse” Paul had said that “he remembers driving a cab around the streets of NYC and only in America could a dream like this come true about being able to play the Garden”. Speaking of early days, since KISS has not yet hit Europe for the “World Domination” Tour the fans who read this might like to know that the costumes are very reminiscent of the “Alive I” years. “I Love It Loud” came up and I think it is great that KISS had decided to keep a track or two from other albums, however the drums made me miss Eric Carr a little bit as he played it differently than Peter does. A welcome addition to the set was “I Want You”, which was brought back. I have not seen this tune done since the “Psycho Circus” tour and Paul still had the power that is needed for that song.

The stage grew dark and foreboding as we saw Gene posturing and standing omnipotent over the audience as he began to strum his bass while the blood poured from his mouth. Suddenly he was in the air and above the audience on the lighting truss as the music for “God Of Thunder” began. There was a point in which I thought there was an issue with the pyro as where fire normally shoots from the stage, only smoke spewed up. “100,000 Years” was performed and it is so good to see a song that good continually done in recent years for KISS.

Paul started to say “Since the KISS Army had seen the Reunion, The Psycho Circus, and the “Farewell” Tours, there has been a lot of talk”. Paul made sure to comment how “they thought they had written the book on KISS and we should know that the game is long from over”. So I guess we can count on KISS being around for a few more tours. One can only imagine what the future holds with them. I will make mention that when I attended a CD release/signing I was able to meet and talk with “Doc” McGhee, the bands Manager. We asked him what the deal was as many of us online were wearing the “Farewell Tour 2001” shirts. Doc basically said, it was over and then Gene and Paul decided not to stop. So as long as they wanna play, we will have KISS shows. Now where was I? Oh yes, the concert…..

When Paul began to play the chords of “Black Diamond” he fooled around a little bit and started to play “Stairway To Heaven”, the crowd roared and he said “Nah, you guys ain’t here for that”. Then he went further on to jam a little of the “Rolling Stones’ “Angie”. He even sang a line, then said “I saw them here, and sat right there!!”. “Black Diamond” is killer to see when the group is in full makeup, as it strikes like lightning as most of the first album does. Peter’s voice was better than ever as he sang the lyrics. On the songs close, his drumkit rose into the air as the fireworks went crazy. Paul said “Goodnight”, but any true KISS fan knew it was not over yet. Encore’s were coming.

Peter’s solo spot came on for “Beth” as he walked both sides of the stage and handed roses to his fans, a nice touch I always think. “Love Gun” was next, but since this was a limited set as compared to others Paul did not fly across the crowd onto a smaller platform, he stayed on the stage. Then it was time for the crowd to rise (not that anyone sat down all that much, I know I did not) for “Rock And Roll All Nite”. After a rousing version of this, the confetti cannons went off and fireworks burst on the stage and flashpots exploded. The band rose up on hydraulics, Peter’s drums rose again and Paul smashed his guitar as he has done in every show I ever saw. He no longer throws the pieces into the audience but seems to hand them to a crew member on the stage front. There are probably legal reasons for doing this. All in all, this was another exciting evening thanks to KISS. I cannot wait until the next time.

Aerosmith was up very quickly after KISS which was nice to see. Great that the road crew can setup and remove two massive setups for bands like this and make it seem effortless. Compared to KISS, the Aerosmith equipment is more sparse and this is because Aerosmith is just concerned with being the kick ass bluesy rock band that we expect them to be. Leave the spectacle and grandeur to KISS, they do it the best.

The stage was draped in a giant red curtain that said Aerosmith on it, Frank Vincent who is a screen writer of Mob movies over here came out from behind the curtain and announced his Friends “Aerosmith” were coming. And out they came. Steven Tyler is a whirling dervish, I swear he never stopped once. The stage extended into a giant runway that went about 100 feet into the crowd. Tyler was back and forth on this throughout the whole show. When KISS played they did not go on this at all, in hindsight Aerosmith did no pyro-technics nor did they use the hydraulics. The main stage thing Aero did was when it came time to do a few of their blues numbers (which were good), was that the entire stage turned around and they had a more acoustic feel to them. In all honesty, I would have preferred they play a few more hits rather than 3 tunes from an album that is still over 5 months away in release date. Aerosmith has no problems in selling albums, so the fans could have waited until that particular tour was set to happen.

I do admit that listening to the Aerosmith show was like listening to a Greatest Hits record. They played every tune that got them some acclaim. Though they did not play “Angel” or “Rag Doll” or even “Dude Looks Like A Lady”, you can see by the posted set list below that this was a great time.

I did wanna share one humorous note with the readers. As I walked out I heard an Aerosmith fan talking to his Friend. As he walked out he said “oh my God, KISS doesn’t suck, they are frigging amazing”. It was good to hear this in my opinion, as so many people avoided seeing KISS because of idiotic critics, not realizing they were missing a good time with fun songs and excellent visuals. Let’s hope there is another tour sooner rather than later, because if theses guys can find the strength to tour and give maximum showmanship, the least I can do is attend.

I must apologize for the brevity of the Aerosmith portion, because other than saying they rocked there is not much in the way of visual stuff going on. They are terrific also and I cannot wait to see them again.

1. Detroit Rock City
2. Deuce
3. Shout It Out Loud
4. Let Me Go Rock & Roll – Thayer intro
5. Lick It Up
6. Firehouse – fire
7. I Love It Loud
8. I Want You
9. God Of Thunder
10. 100,000 Years
11. Black Diamond – stairway, and angie foolin
12. Beth
13. Love Gun
14. Rock & Roll All Night

Aerosmith Set List:
1. Mama Kin
2. Love In An Elevator
3. Toys In The Attic
4. Pink
5. Jaded
6. Train Kept A Rollin’
7. Tell Me What It Takes
8. Start Messing Around (Joe Sings)
9. Baby Please Don’t Go
10. Never Love A Girl Like That
11. Dream On
12. Same Ole Song And Dance
13. Cryin’
14. Walk This Way
15. Sweet Emotion

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Editor’s Note: This article was written for another medium prior to the 2005 launch of and has been added to our content for your enjoyment.

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