Kiss played at the Minnesota State Fair Grandstand last night, and although I didn't go I thought it'd be fun to reminisce about some past times that I've seen the legendary rockers. One of the very first concerts I went to was Kiss and Dokken in March 1985 in Dubuque, Iowa at the Five Flags Center, a small arena. Kiss had recently recruited Bruce Kulick to replace guitarist Mark St. John in support of Animalize, and Dokken was just starting to get some legs with Tooth And Nail. Me and my junior high school friends were too young to drive, so my friend's parents drove a carload of us 90 minutes to Dubuque for this. My friend's stepfather who drove us later went on to become a United States Congressman, haha! We thought it was funny that a small crowd was protesting the "Satanic and evil" Kiss outside the venue. Tooth And Nail is easily one of my favorite 80's albums, and Dokken tore the roof off playing most of the album, including "Heartless Heart", "Tooth And Nail", "Don't Close Your Eyes", "Just Got Lucky", "When Heaven Comes Down", "Into The Fire", and "Alone Again". Kiss blew we away, too, and I remember them playing a great set that included "Firehouse", "Black Diamond", "Under The Gun", and many, many of the usual favorites.
I didn't see Kiss again for another five years, however, I caught them three times on the Hot In The Shade tour in 1990. The first two times were in Cedar Rapids and Des Moines, Iowa (I posted an uncirculated audio bootleg of the Cedar Rapids show here) with two of the worst opening acts you could have asked for, Faster Pussycat and Slaughter. For the second leg of the tour, Winger replaced Faster Pussycat and Kiss changed around the set list a little bit (they brought back "I Was Made For Loving You"). By the time I saw this show in East Troy, Wisconsin, Slaughter had taken off in a huge way. The pyramid stage set for Kiss on this tour was completely over the top!
The Revenge album was the first album from Kiss that had excited me in a long time, so I was glad Kiss returned to Cedar Rapids in 1992. Great White and Trixter opened this show, but we got there late and missed both bands. Kiss never disappoints, so this was another great show although one without any surprises.
It's hard to believe that it's been 14 years now since I last saw Kiss. This 1996 show in Kansas City sold out instantly because this was the first reunion tour with makeup and the four original members. Despite all the hype, it probably wasn't any better than any of the other Kiss shows I've seen. Unfortunately, this show has become legendary because Alice In Chains was the opener and it was the last public performance of singer Layne Staley. That's Alice In Chains guitarist Jerry Cantrell's signature on the ticket stub. I met him in 2001 at a club in San Diego before one of his solo shows where he also autographed my We Die Young EP.