Morongo wanted the best, and Morongo got the best when KISS stopped by to perform on Sunday night, Oct. 30.
KISS performed in the outdoor tent at Morongo, which has a capacity of about 3,000. It was immediately obvious that this would be a scaled-down show; after all, tents aren’t conducive to over-the-top pyro and members of the band flying around. Also worth noting: This edition of KISS lacks Ace Frehley and Peter Criss, as they were replaced in the early ’00s with Tommy Thayer (guitar) and Eric Singer (drums).
When the lights dimmed and the KISS curtain fell, all four members appeared onstage in their usual makeup, and with the help of some minimal pyrotechnics, they started “Detroit Rock City” and were welcomed with a loud reception. Frontman Paul Stanley acknowledged crowd after a performance of “Deuce,” telling the audience, “As you can see, this is a tent. There’s a lot of things we can’t do, but we can kick some ass,” which got him a loud ovation before “Shout It Out Loud.”
Before playing “Do You Love Me,” Stanley brought up KISS’ Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction in 2014, saying, “Things have changed a bit in the past couple of years. We’re now in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Everyone knows the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame hates KISS, but they have to listen to you, and thank you for making it happen.”
During Gene Simmons’ bass solo, blood came out of his mouth along with that infamous tongue—launching KISS fans into a frenzy before the catchy bass lines started to “God of Thunder.” Ace Frehley was well-known for working to develop the pyrotechnics that shot out of his Les Paul Gibson guitar during KISS’ heyday, and Tommy Thayer continued that tradition during his guitar solo after “Shock Me.”
The most memorable song from the setlist was “War Machine,” which included an animated sequence on the stage’s video monitor of knights going into battle, and Gene Simmons spitting a fireball at the end of the song.
During the encore, I unfortunately developed a sour taste in my mouth as drummer Eric Singer sang a Peter Criss-penned hit, “Beth.” While Singer sang it beautifully, it felt a sacrilegious to keep it in the setlist. Paul Stanley later took a moment to praise America’s military and led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance along with an instrumental of the “Star Spangled Banner,” before closing out the night with “Rock and Roll All Nite.”
While I applaud Morongo Casino for upping their game and landing some amazing acts including KISS, this show proved that it would be ideal for the casino to build a proper concert venue. The tent does not have great acoustics, and a few people told me the music actually sounded better outside of the tent.
It’s obvious that KISS remains a popular draw, and remains one of America’s greatest rock ’n’ roll bands.
Detroit Rock City
Shout It Out Loud
Do You Love Me
I Love It Loud
God of Thunder
Lick It Up
The Star-Spangled Banner
Rock and Roll All Nite