Written by Scott Johnson
Photos by Tom Collins
The City of Brotherly Love hosted Wizard World Comic Con 2017 on Saturday June 3. What better way to draw out such a diverse array of personalities than invite “The Demon” Gene Simmons of KISS? Kicking off the weekend, the legendary Gene Simmons and his solo band project put on a special LIVE performance at The Trocadero Theatre in Philadelphia’s China Town district Friday evening. Fresh off a flight, direct from the UK, Simmons took a brief break from the KISS world tour to entertain legions of fans for what would be the last appearance on the east coast in 2017.
As The Troc quickly swelled to a maximum capacity, Philly’s own MACH22 opened up the night. It would seem that MACH22 is getting a significant amount of their own attention these days as they’ve been awarded the honor of opening for a number of world famous musicians. Next up would be your favorite band’s favorite band in Creem Circus. How to describe this motley crew? Goulash! These guys truly are a mixture of 70’s meets 80’s influences of rock and a fashion statement to boot. If nothing else they certainly are an entertaining act to watch. It was later divulged in their set that Creem Circus guitarist, Jim Cara, has been Gene’s Custom Bass maker for many years at Gene Simmons Axe Company. Having such connections certainly doesn’t hurt. The old adage “it’s all who you” know wasn’t just licked off the grass. No sooner would CC’s set end then the chants of “Gene Gene Gene Gene…” would consume the sound waves of the theatre.
So now the time had finally arrived for one of the most iconic musicians in the history of the world, Gene Simmons, to take the stage. This man may literally be the inventor of merchandising in the music industry. There is simply no parallel when it comes to the marketing genius of Simmons. KISS is certainly one of the most legendary bands of all time, and there can be no doubt that the fire breathing, blood spitting, demon with a reptilian like tongue is its architect.
Talk about media coverage! Of course Rock Titan Music Television was on the scene, but never have I witnessed so many press photographers at a concert. Wizard World must have been handing out photo passes like hot cakes or there were a whole lot of folks with cameras owed favors. Then again, we are talking about Gene Simmons here. General Admission bring your cameras. Carpe Diem. But, try as they might, there’s simply no concert photographer in the business that can hang with Rock Titan’s own photo journalist Tom Collins. Our guy immediately solidified his position to deliver some great shots of Simmons as seen in this article.
Descending from the far upper reaches of The Troc’s green rooms, Gene Simmons glided onto the stage to thunderous chanting, cheers, and applause. The first thing that struck me was how great this guy looked after all these years. 67 years young and possessing the kind of mojo most males can only dream of, Simmons immediately owned the building and all of its inhabitants. As is common place anymore, at shows such as this, smart phones came flying out of everyone’s pockets to record this great spectacle. Can’t people just enjoy a great show anymore, for memories sake, versus obstructing everybody’s view with their smartphones? One Republic’s Ryan Tedder said it best at a Live Nation Press Conference covered by Rock Titan. “Does anyone actually go back and look at those videos? They look like $%#@. They sound like $%#@. Just enjoy the show”.
Without further ado Gene Simmons opened up with “Deuce”! No. This wasn’t KISS, but Gene’s solo band sure played the part to near perfection. They sounded amazing and had an awesome stage presence. At the conclusion of the song, Gene immediately began interacting with the crowd. Tremendously personable, humorous, and charismatic, he played to a crowd that just ate it up. As if there’s a KISS song that isn’t popular, “Shout it out loud” was next on the set list. Gene Simmons clearly has a penchant for identifying talent, as this band just crushed one of KISS’s most iconic songs. True to his reputation as being popular among the ladies, and just prior to the next song, Simmons joked about visiting our mom’s house for a meal of…? Well who wouldn’t love to invite him over for dinner? Written long ago, but still sounding as contemporary a piece of musical art as ever, the band performed “Nothing to Lose”. It was at this point the most astounding observation was made. All of those smart phones that were obnoxiously obstructing one’s view earlier had seemingly disappeared. Mission accomplished! The audience had finally become so enamored with this special “one off” performance that their immediate attention took precedent over what they might miss if they were more concerned about their recording devices. “Calling Dr. Love” certainly provided a much needed treatment that would sustain the mood and attitude for the rest of the evening. Appealing to dozens of fans from the audience, Simmons then leveraged those fortunate to be selected to provide the chorus lines for “Do You Love Me”.
On this night, in the City of Brotherly Love, KISS Nation answered the call. If Gene Simmons had any questions about what his music has meant to his fans for generations, the answer was clear. Every lyric of every song had full audience participation. Simmons dished out an unforgettable night of entertainment, and all those in attendance licked it up. Rock Titan Music Television will be joining KISS at Chicago Open Air 2017! So, be sure to follow us for regular updates leading up to the music festival of the summer.