Live Shots: KISS and Mötley Crüe at Sleep Train Pavilion


By Dillon Donovan

Reunited after having first toured together 30 years ago, KISS and Mötley Crüe having joined forces once again unleashing their mighty sound last night at the Sleep Train Pavillion.

If Mötley Crüe was indeed intended to be the opening act it was hard to tell; its set length was just two songs longer than KISS and witnessed by a much more frenzied audience being pushed to the limit thanks to the druid-style carnival theme the band has been working with for ages now.

The night opened up with a fire-breathing explosive rendition of “Saints of Los Angeles” from Crüe's latest record, and even though the band is aging these days it was difficult to tell amongst the fire, lights, smoke, back-up dancers, and roller-coaster drum set of Tommy Lee.

Lee and his kit have always been such an essential attribute to the bands explosive sound and theatrics, which was plain to see when he launched into a two-part drum solo while spinning 360 degrees over head, even allowing an audience member to join him on his roller-coaster thanks to an extra vacant seat. Even though one new song “SEX” was unveiled live, Crüe mostly stayed true to its classic hits during the 70-minute set, signing off with an unrivaled version of one its biggest hits, “Kickstart my Heart.”

Only half of the original lineup of KISS was represented but they arrived in the full regalia, makeup, platform shoes, blood dripping everywhere, and an all-around cartoonish appearance rivaled by few bands today. I’ve never seen such a dedicated and allegiant fan base, some dressed just a well as the band on stage. 

Sure, there might be other bands I prefer musically, but the showmanship of KISS is unrivaled, Paul Stanley flying over the crowd, Gene Simmons spitting blood, rising platforms, ziplines, explosions – KISS is rock'n'roll. The crowd was torn open with hits like “Detroit Rock City” and “Shout it Out Loud” followed by Simmons belting out a blood-spitting version of “Hell or Hallelujah” off newest album, Monster, released in early July. Though my favorite part of the set was the 1974 hit “Black Diamond."

Although their show format may seem a bit formulaic to tried and true fans who've followed the band since the '70s, for me as a first-timer,  it was rock'n'roll magic. That formula in fact, is what has maintained the loyalty of those legions of fans.

KISS setlist:
1. Detroit Rock City
2. Shout It Out Loud
3. I Love It Loud
4. Firehouse
5. Hell of Hallelujah
6. Shock me
7. Bass Solo
8. God of Thunder
9. Love Gun
10. Lick It Up
11. Black Diamond
12. Rock and Roll All Nite

Mötley Crüe selist:
1. Saints of Los Angeles
2. Wild Side
3. Shout at the Devil
4. Same Ol’ Situation (S.O.S)
5. Sex
6. Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)
7. Home Sweet Home
8. Drum Solo
9. Guitar Solo
10. Live Wire
11. Primal Scream
12. Dr. Feelgood
13. Girls, Girls, Girls
14. Kickstart My Heart

All photos by Matthew Reamer