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Kiss army invades Halifax

The sea of thousands of fans dressed up in rain ponchos, slickers and heavy weather gear looked more like the Kiss navy than the Kiss army on Halifax’s North Common on Saturday.

Yet the fear of smeared face paint didn’t deter dozens of the faithful from transforming themselves into the Starchild, the Demon, Space Ace and the Cat Man for the occasion. For all anybody knows, the real Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer could have been roaming the crowd and no one would have been the wiser.

I didn’t feel compelled to put on the greasepaint, but if I had a time machine and could go back to the mid-70s to ask my 11-year-old self what bands he’d most like to see, the top two choices would be the Beatles and Kiss. The Beatles had been broken up for years at that point, and there was no way in Hades that my parents would let me go near those so-called "Knights in Satan’s Service" and their legendary shows at the Halifax Forum.

Cut to three decades later and within the space of a week we’ve had ex-moptop Paul McCartney and those rock and roll action figures —whose acronym could more properly be Keep It Spectacular, Stupid — making for one giddily ecstatic inner 11-year-old by the time the legendary foursome took the stage on Saturday night to the primal pounding of Deuce.

Of course they didn’t just walk on stage; the foursome descended from the lighting rig on a platform while a giant banner bearing a band logo as distinctive a trademark as the Nike swoosh dropped to the floor. Immedi-ately they went into character, with Simmons on the prowl like a widow-peaked vampire, Stanley a strutting Mick Jagger cartoon and Thayer approximating former guitarist Ace Frehley’s spaced out stage stance, swaying on his massive silver platform boots.

As with other shows on the tour, the early part of the set more or less mirrors the track list on Kiss’s landmark live album Alive, which celebrates its 35th anniversary next year, and Stanley promised an evening of "vintage classics" — post-makeup tunes from the ’80s like Lick It Up and I Love It Loud wouldn’t show up until the encores — with Strutter and Got to Choose eliciting a wave of shouting along to the choruses and fists pumping in all their devil-horned glory.

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