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Kiss and Def Leppard - Cruzan Amphitheatre, West Palm Beach - July 22, 2014

Kiss and Def Leppard - Cruzan Amphitheatre, West Palm Beach - July 22, 2014
Michele Eve Sandberg

I don't know who comes up with these touring packages, but it does seem a little bit odd on paper having '70s hard rockers Kiss share the bill with England's Def Leppard, which, also from that decade, made most of its mainstream chops during the glam metal '80s. You know there's confusion if Paul and Young Ron are also trying to wrap their heads around it. Wouldn't each band be better-served headlining its own tour with a different opening act?

Cue in what little memories remain from having owned the Hysteria album on cassette back in the day and the fact that I've never been a full devotee of Kiss. At least I knew the people-watching would be excellent if things got too hazy for me.

Truth be told, both bands did their jobs very well, and it really does bug me as to who comes up with this stuff. It seems like Def Leppard could've benefited from a longer set. A packed Cruzan seemed to really enjoy seeing the band onstage.

See also: KISS and Def Leppard at Cruzan Amphitheatre in West Palm Beach (Slideshow)

Kiss and Def Leppard - Cruzan Amphitheatre, West Palm Beach - July 22, 2014
Michele Eve Sandberg

I arrived a bit late to the show and caught Def Leppard as it began "Hysteria." And from the sounds of it, Joe Elliot and Rick Savage, the longest-running members of the band, still have it with a few age-related pointers reminding that it isn't 1985 anymore. Not that I'm going to be critical about age; for a band that has been on the road and has partied like it did back in the day, it was only in the high notes that you could see Elliot's voice tempered by time. One of the things that certainly stood out from the billing is that although both bands have that "packaged for an arena" sound, Leppard is the more technical of the two. Just a little observation, and probably a reason why it felt like its set was rushed, though admittedly, I did not catch the opening act Kobra and the Lotus or the beginning of the Leppard set.

See also: Kobra and the Lotus' Kobra Paige Calls Touring with Kiss and Def Leppard "Insane!"

My bad; the Canadian heavy-metal outfit would've been fun to see live. It was nice to see Def Leppard rock through the crowd-pleaser "Pour Some Sugar on Me" and "Rock of Ages" and see the appreciative crowd go a little unabashed '80s for a few minutes. Drummer Rick Allen had a nice thing going with the Union Jack motif of his customized kit gaining a life of its own as his Johnnies and a nice patch covering the sleeve of his amputated arm. Somewhere, the Queen Mother is smiling.

Kiss and Def Leppard - Cruzan Amphitheatre, West Palm Beach - July 22, 2014
Michele Eve Sandberg

One of the reasons I guess I've never been a full-on Kiss fan is because the theatrics of it have always been a little weird to me. Shit, I like Kabuki theater as much as the next guy, but I guess I never thought about it being part of my rock 'n' roll. I do like the comic-book mythos of the operation, and I guess it is true what others have pointed out about the band being very successful without knowing what it's doing musically. Far be it for me to criticize, but its savvy business acumen is without a doubt the group's greatest asset. Take, for instance, the fact that the screens at the amphitheater were looping Kiss-related ideology during the stage switch-out.

I have a weird feeling that I just can't shake... I wanna get married at the Hotter Than Hell Wedding Chapel.

Kiss and Def Leppard - Cruzan Amphitheatre, West Palm Beach - July 22, 2014
Michele Eve Sandberg

I could go the rest of my life without hearing "Detroit Rock City" and "Rock and Roll All Nite," as I'm sure Kiss would too, but they made for some raucous closers during the encore. What I am happy about is that the band performed "War Machine," nothing obscure about it, but it is my favorite Kiss song. Paul -- talkative and for a guy who's been doing this, mostly in grease paint, for 40 years, he was appreciative and pandering to the crowd.

Kiss puts on a great show. There is no denying that, and save for a few titties caught on camera for the oversized screen backing the band, this is a great concert experience for the whole family to enjoy. And on a slightly cheekier note, a great credit is due to the band for getting the attention of a niche group of people.

Yup, they might be all about business now and thanking God for the band's great success, but the true message of love that Kiss spreads is simple: four guys in makeup and costumes playing loud rock music and occasionally licking each other with enormous tongues onstage is all about tolerance and not the kind of tolerance you'd be able to sell to a few meathead audience members outside of a Kiss concert either.

Kiss and Def Leppard - Cruzan Amphitheatre, West Palm Beach - July 22, 2014
Michele Eve Sandberg

That aside, it performed thunderous versions of "Love Gun," "God of Thunder," "Hotter Than Hell," "Hide Your Heart," and "Shout It Out Loud" under the machinations of a giant spindly-spider stage platform, pyrotechnics, fake blood, and stage risers. The show was well-paced, with most of the attention falling on Paul and Gene, with now-longtime members Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer turning in command performances on guitar and drums. A fun night for me to witness as my first time seeing it live; how it will stack up to a longtime fan is beyond me, but I must reiterate that it was a satisfying concert experience fit for a broad age group, as evidenced by the crowd.

Now, if someone could at least clarify how Def Leppard and Kiss ended up together for a larger part of this summer touring together, that would be great. I'm hoping the headlining part of the tour came down to a coin toss. That would be funny.

Kiss and Def Leppard - Cruzan Amphitheatre, West Palm Beach - July 22, 2014
AF

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Coral Sky Amphitheatre

601-7 Sansburys Way
West Palm Beach, FL 33411

561-795-8883

www.cruzanamphitheatre.net


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