Photos and writing by TourBusLive.com
It didn’t matter that he wasn’t in the makeup. It didn’t matter that he wasn’t flying over the crowd on high wires or strutting his stuff in front of extreme pyrotechnics. And it didn’t matter that all the members of THE band weren’t there. All it took was HIS name to bring out the fans. Yes, KISS fans (and maybe a few unsuspecting regulars) sold out San Juan Capistrano’s own Coach House on Friday night for a chance to see their hero, the “Starchild” – the one and only PAUL STANLEY of KISS – with his new side project, SOUL STATION. And, let me tell you, full of SOUL it was!
On their first stop of a short local 3-night run, PAUL STANLEY and the very talented 12 members of SOUL STATION (YES, I said TWELVE band members!) wound their way through a 90-minute set of R&B classics entirely from the 60s and 70s – songs that the 64-year-old Stanley mentioned he loved in his youth (and which surely inspired his choice in musical career). Covering hits by The Temptations, Smokey Robinson & the Miracles, Al Green, The Isley Brothers, The Jackson 5, Martha and the Vandellas, Stevie Wonder, and more, Paul Stanley easily stepped out of his 7-inch platform heels and back in time to the golden age of the Motown sound.
From beginning to end, it was clear that Paul Stanley was indeed in his alternate element. Choosing to eschew his usual day-job duties on guitar, he comfortably took to center stage armed only with his wonderful falsetto. Dressed immaculately in a shiny gold-and-brown toned jacket and vest, Stanley danced and sang the night away. His voice was indeed made for R&B – his range still completely capable of tackling even the highest of Delfonics notes in the classic song “La-La (Means I Love You). Even his choice in vintage microphone transported all of us in the audience back to a simpler time when the night’s fare still played on the radios of every Pontiac GTO. And although he graciously stepped aside on a few songs and allowed his three more-than-background singers to take over featured vocals, Stanley mostly lead the band in a virtual stroll down memory lane.
Other than the trio of backup and featured singers, SOUL STATION also boasted nine other amazing musicians including long-time KISS drummer (and watch enthusiast – seriously, ask him about it sometime) ERIC SINGER, the great RAFAEL MOREIRA on guitar, SEAN HURLEY on bass, two keyboardists, three saxophone and horn players, and a percussionist, all of whom were equally as talented as the man who brought them together.
And if I have to sum up the entire performance in one word, I would have to say that word is FUN. So much fun, in fact, that it wasn’t until later that I even realized the band hadn’t covered one single KISS song! And it seems I wasn’t alone in being lost in all that fun of it, as even the most ardent of hardcore KISS-t-shirt-yielding fans spent much of the night on their feet, dancing in the aisles! Berry Gordy would be proud, Mr. Stanley. Berry Gordy would be proud.
NOTE: Opening this wonderful night of music was Chapman Stick virtuoso Tom Griesgraber, a local San Diego County musician, composer, and producer, whose set captivated the audience with his unique sound and even more unique instrument. Tom, who has played with the likes of Tony Levin, Steve Lukather, Stanley Jordan, members of the California Guitar Trio, and many more, told us that he was just as surprised to open for Paul Stanley as we were to see him open. But it was Paul Stanley’s own request for a solo opener which prompted the Coach House to invite oft-billed Griesgraber, and what a good call they made. The crowd not only enjoyed his set, but appreciated the technical skill at which Tom performs. He sure opened a lot of eyes to a whole new type of rock star.
SPOTTED IN THE CROWD: The Rock Star of all Music Managers DOC MCGHEE, and KISS social media guru KEITH LEROUX, both LOVING the music!!
Get Ready (The Temptations cover)
La-La (Means I Love You) (Delfonics cover)
Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me) (The Temptations cover)
Ooh Baby Baby (Smokey Robinson and The Miracles cover)
Sideshow (Blue Magic cover)
You Are Everything (The Stylistics cover)
Tracks Of My Tears (Smokey Robinson and The Miracles cover)
Let’s Stay Together (Al Green cover)
Dancing In The Streets (Martha and the Vandellas cover)
Betcha By Golly Wow (The Stylistics cover)
Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours (Stevie Wonder cover)
The Way You Do The Things You Do (The Temptations cover)
I Want You Back (The Jackson 5 cover)
Who’s That Lady (The Isley Brothers cover)
Ooh Child (Five Stairsteps cover)
Could It Be I’m Falling In Love (The Spinners cover)