Wednesday night's KISS and Motley Crue show at the KFC Yum! Center was so retro that even the opening band, a bunch of 19-year-olds from England, sounded like 1978. There was no escaping the sweet smell of nostalgia although KISS, still dolled up after all these years, embraced the obvious far more readily than the Crue.
KISS did perform a new song from its upcoming album, "Monster," but that was its only nod to 2012. In every other way it could easily have been 40 years ago, from the song selection to Paul Stanley's perfectly dated stage banter.
"I'm not gonna lie to ya," he said after some halfhearted audience participation. "Birmingham was a lot louder!"
Well, to hell with Birmingham. This is Louisville, and we were gonna make Stanley forget he ever set his platform boots in Birmingham. So we got louder and KISS played "Black Diamond" as our reward. That's a deal I'd take any day.
KISS was much more fun than Motley Crue, which has always seemed to take itself too seriously despite all evidence to the contrary, because leaders Stanley and Gene Simmons fully embrace the band's kitschy qualities. Now past age 60, there's really no point in pretending that they're not old men in make-up and cartoonish costumes.
But KISS also has the better songs, and they powered through a string of classics in rapid succession to start the show. "Detroit Rock City," "Shout it Out Loud," "I Love it Loud," "Firehouse" and "Love Gun" let everyone know that the emphasis was going to be on big hits and bigger explosions, culminating in the usual storm of confetti.
Motley Crue certainly wasn't bad, although the band clearly has a lot fewer exceptional songs from which to choose. Their performance was muscular and heavy on theatrics, with guitarist Mick Mars a particular standout, but it was also the concert version of plastic surgery, with prerecorded vocals augmenting the entire set to help hide the wrinkles.
The Treatment opened the show with outrageous enthusiasm and songs that sounded like a mash-up of vintage UFO and Bad Company. They were good songs, too, simple but distinctive and delivered with impressive heavy-metal panache by singer Matt Jones. The band is on its first tour of the United States, but clearly not its last.
Reporter Jeffrey Lee Puckett can be reached at (502) 582-4160.