Framework

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Aug. 28, 1977: KISS pyrotechnics defined the band's larger-than-life stage attack.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Larry Bessel / Los Angeles Times Archive/UCLA

Aug. 28, 1977: Despite ominous garb of Gene Simmons, left, and Ace Frehley, the KISS concert at the Forum was largely good-natured and cartoonish.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Larry Bessel / Los Angeles Times Archive/UCLA

Aug. 28, 1977: KISS members Gene Simmons, left, and Paul Stanley perform at the Forum.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Larry Bessel / Los Angeles Times Archive/UCLA

Aug. 28, 1977: The KISS performance at the Forum featured many special effects.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Larry Bessel / Los Angeles Times Archive/UCLA

Aug. 28, 1977: Bassist-singer Gene Simmons, aka the God of Thunder, during KISS concert at the Forum.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Larry Bessel / Los Angeles Times Archive/UCLA

Aug. 28, 1977: Bassist-singer Gene Simmons rises above the stage during KISS concert.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Larry Bessel / Los Angeles Times Archive/UCLA

Aug. 28, 1977: Bassist-singer Gene Simmons performs during KISS concert at the Forum.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Larry Bessel / Los Angeles Times Archive/UCLA

Aug. 28, 1977: From left, bassist-singer Gene Simmons, singer-guitarist Paul Stanley and lead guitarist Ace Frehley during KISS concert at the Forum.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Larry Bessel / Los Angeles Times Archive/UCLA

Aug. 28, 1977: Bassist-singer Gene Simmons during KISS performance at the Forum.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Larry Bessel / Los Angeles Times Archive/UCLA

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1977 KISS concert at the Forum

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1977 KISS concert at the Forum

Aug. 28, 1977: KISS in concert at the Forum in Inglewood.

Times Pop Music Critic Robert Hilburn reported on the Kiss concert in the Aug. 30, 1977 Los Angeles Times:

Before Bob Dylan and the Beatles gave it respectability, rock ‘n’ roll was dismissed by most adults as shrewd but untalented musicians preying on the prurient interests of a young, unsuspecting audience.

A quick glance at Kiss’ three weekend concerts at the Inglewood Forum was enough to make most of those grouchy detractors from two decades ago seem like prophets.

Picking up where ghoulish Alice Cooper left off, Kiss mixed demonic makeup, fire-spitting antics and flashy stage effects for some sideshow hokum that would have made even P. T. Barnum take note.

Often theatrics cause an audience to overlook a band’s solid musical capabilities, but that’s not the case with Kiss. The vocals are undistinguished, the songs are rarely more than passable and the musicianship isn’t likely to win its members a place on anyone’s all-star poll.

But it’s hard to take offense at Kiss. That’s largely because the band has a good-natured, unpretentious stance on stage. They don’t pretend to be anything more than comic-book figures. And, yes, there is a Kiss comic book on the market.

When Gene Simmons prowls the stage in his six-inch platforms and sticks his tongue out at the audience in quick, lizard like strokes, it’s just in fun. The band may be shrewd and the audience may be young, but nobody’s being fooled.

Despite its somewhat ominous overtones, Kiss is no more dangerous or perverse than a walk through the haunted house at Disneyland. And it’s a lot more lively. The concert is like an extension of the barroom scene from “Star Wars.” It’s not as imaginatively staged, but just as teasingly bizarre. …

“All right, Los Angeles,” the announcer shouted Sunday night as the house lights dimmed at the Forum after a strong set by Cheap Trick. “You wanted the best and you’ve got the best…the hottest band in the world…Kiss!”

The cheering was so loud when the band appeared that you’d have thought the Beatles has reformed. Or, at least, the Mamas & Papas.

Emphasizing materials from its last three LPs, Kiss wasted little time in getting to the music. More precisely, it wasted little time getting to the special effects. Though many in the audience knew the songs well enough to sing along the words, the songs often seemed like time-killers as the next effect was being readied.

There was a huge burst of flame on one side of the stage; an explosion from another; smoke from behind the drum kits; platforms that raised 12 to 15 feet in the air. Plus the constant swaggering and posturing by the band itself. And Simmons’ fire-breathing and blood-spurting. And on and on. The gimmicks weren’t as fully defined as Alice Cooper’s, but they were more colorful. …

Times staff photographer Larry Bessel covered the KISS concert. Only one photo from the concert accompanied Hilburn’s article above. Several additional images were recently scanned to make this photo gallery.

Kiss is still going strong. Check out this Feb. 28 story by Steve Appleford: KISS is happy with its lineup and OK with the Rock Hall.

scott.harrison@latimes.com

Follow Scott Harrison on Twitter and Google+

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