Kiss still rocking all night

ATLANTA — Explosions, gyrations, donations, a rocket-launcher fight, the Pledge of Allegiance, a fire-breathing, blood-spitting demon and a phone call from God — it’s all part of the spectacle that is the aptly named Hottest Show on Earth.

In the words of lead singer Paul Stanley, a Kiss concert is part church and part circus. The big top was up and the pews were full Tuesday night at Aaron’s Amphitheater.

On at least their fourth tour since the “Farewell” tour a decade ago, the band still packs ’em in and still packs a punch. The set list is their longest ever, with 21 songs spanning a nearly four-decade career, including three from 2009’s “Sonic Boom,” Kiss’ first studio album in 11 years.

The show is part tribute to the past, part vision of the future, with ticket specials and an opening band — The Academy Is … — aimed at bringing in fans from younger generations.

Diehards have nothing to fear though — the stalwarts of a Kiss stage show are all there, from Gene Simmons breathing fire to Stanley’s smashing of his guitar. And though purists may complain that the band is minus half its original line-up, it can be argued that, other than the nostalgia, nothing is missing from this one.

Drummer Eric Singer boasts both chops and a voice equal to or better than Peter Criss, and lead guitarist Tommy Thayer, nearly a decade in to his replacement of Ace Frehley, has come into his own as a cornerstone of the show. The duo’s dueling solos at the end of ’70s classic “Shock Me,” complete with a rocket-launching guitar and a smoking drum kit, are arguably the highlights of the show.

Stanley’s voice seemed a bit strained at times, but the set is heavy on Simmons-sung songs, and Stanley is a master at inspiring audience participation, so the crowd was all too happy to share vocal duties.

Kiss is also doing its patriotic duty, donating $1 from each ticket sold to the Wounded Warrior Care Project, a fund to help war veterans with physical and psychiatric care. The band brought several vets to the stage Tuesday and led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance before revealing the tour tally of $282,000.

Kiss’ Hottest Show on Earth tour continues through September. Visit kissonline.com for information.