— By Sean Derrick
After spending Friday and Saturday schmoozing with fans at the Wizard World Comic Con at the Americas Center in downtown Saint Louis rock superstar Gene Simmons took to the stage at The Pageant with a few friends and performed an intimate rock show for his faithful following.
The show was a part of the Wizard World Comic Con experience, newly added this year, and judging from the crowd it was a hit.
Simmons and his band played a set that was filled with a vast majority of Kiss songs. But being that this was a special occasion (the show was only one of a handful of solo shows Simmons has done), he wanted to make it a special night for the fans. So, he dug deep into the Kiss vault and pulled out some songs that hadn’t been played by Kiss for decades, if ever in some cases.
That’s not to say there weren’t Kiss mainstays in the setlist. On the contrary, there was a very nice mix of both. Simmons kicked off the show with the Kiss staple “Deuce” to get the crowd pumped, not that they needed much prodding, before showcasing “Radioactive” from the Kiss solo album Gene Simmons.
When he hit “Nothing to Lose” from Kiss’ 1974 debut self-titled LP the crowd knew they were in for a special night.
In between songs Simmons would describe aspects of each song or a funny story related to the song. As such the show took on an “Un-Plugged” sort of vibe, but plugged in and rocking. Great little stories emerged, like how the song “Calling Dr. Love” was
conceived while watching The Three Stooges one night.
Many of the seventeen song setlist was culled from deep in the Kiss archival vault. Highlights included hearing Kiss’ first single “Nothing to Lose” and “Plaster Caster”.
The set was only supposed to last an hour and 15 minutes, but Simmons and his band stayed on stage for 30 minutes past the scheduled end time, interacting back and forth with fans. For the Kiss classic “I Love it Loud” Simmons picked out six women from the audience to help sing backup. He later gave the guys a chance by picking out ten guys to help close out the show with the standard “Rock and Roll All Night”.
Throughout the night, apart from digging deep into the Kiss archive, Simmons took time to acknowledge the venue and the importance of the venue, primarily regarding what was going to happen the next day – the memorial and viewing of the late Chuck Berry. Simmons acknowledged that if it wasn’t for Berry there would be no Kiss. He
likewise remarked that many musicians, including Keith Richards and George Harrison, owed what they do to Berry. He even changed the setlist up and replaced “Going Blind” with the Chuck Berry classic “Johnny B. Goode” and the crowd ate it up.
Simmons stayed over and attended the memorial service the next day, and was even asked to speak at the event.
Local hard rock band Amorath opened the show with a rocking 35 minute set. The band won the opportunity to open the show based on a contest in which Simmons himself picked the winner out of video submissions. From their straight forward no-gimmick old school rock format and the crowd’s approval I’d say he made a good choice.
The show was a great compliment to the Wizard World Comic Con weekend. Here’s hoping that the new format will continue.
Check out the gallery of photos after the setlist.
Gene Simmons and his band Setlist:
Nothing to Lose
Calling Dr. Love
I Love It Loud
Got Love For Sale
Johnny B. Goode (Chuck Berry cover)
Let Me Go, Rock ‘N’ Roll
Rock and Roll All Nite