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Concert previews: Onstage theatrics in Utah with KISS, Def Leppard and Peter Murphy

Published June 21, 2014 10:24 am

Music • KISS, Def Leppard, Peter Murphy stick to their vision after decades on the charts.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Makeup has, for better or worse, been integral to the mystique and allure of acts headlining two shows in Utah over the next week: KISS and Peter Murphy.

KISS, opening its national tour at Usana Amphitheatre on Monday, has become known as much for its music as the characters its members embody with black-and-white faces: Starchild, The Demon, Spaceman and Catman.

And Peter Murphy, headlining at The Depot on Wednesday, used theatrics and makeup as a leader of goth-rock pioneer Bauhaus, as well as in his solo career as he continues to be a master of reinvention.

Paul Stanley (KISS' Starchild, lead singer and guitarist), Vivian Campbell (guitarist for KISS' opening act, Def Leppard) and Murphy all talked to The Tribune about the past and the future, including something deathly serious.

KISS and Def Leppard

This has been an important year for KISS, which is celebrating its 40th year as a band and was recently inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. KISS perhaps claimed the distinction of being one of the most unimpressed members of the feted club.

Stanley, in a conference call with other media outlets, called the Hall of Fame "a mosquito buzzing around my ear," in part because for so long the so-called rock establishment (led by critics) disrespected KISS for being a cotton-candy diversion. And once KISS was inducted, the Hall of Fame insisted that Stanley and fellow founding member Gene Simmons play with co-founders Ace Frehley and Peter Criss, who have left the band. Stanley and Simmons refused, and KISS ended up not performing at the ceremony, though all four original members were on hand to collect their kudos.

"We stick to our guns and do what we believe in," Stanley said.

Stanley said sticking it to the critics by being inducted into the Hall of Fame has its rewards, though. "It was vindicating, and it was vindicating for the fans," he said of his beloved KISS Army. "There's no army like a volunteer army."

Unlike fellow makeup-wearing Mötley Crüe, KISS isn't planning on retiring any time soon. "We are here to do a victory lap, but the race isn't over," said Stanley. "There are many more races."

He added: "Nobody can be KISS."

For Vivian Campbell, 51, celebrating his 22nd year as guitarist in Def Leppard, this summer tour also marks a significant time in his career.

Campbell battled cancer into remission last year, but the disease recently reappeared. He has restarted chemotherapy and will be enduring treatments that will overlap with the tour with KISS.

He said last year, when he was first told he had cancer, his bandmates offered to cancel their 2013 tour. "I said, 'Stop that s—-.' "

Despite the grueling treatment, he never missed a show.

He said he felt the same way this time around. "There is nothing worse than sitting around the house when you have cancer," he said. "I try to keep positive."

If this round of chemotherapy does what it is supposed to do, Campbell will undergo a stem-cell transplant this fall.

In the meantime, he said his mission this summer is to win over KISS fans as the opener, an unaccustomed spot in the lineup for Def Leppard. But Campbell said, "There's no way we could follow up that spectacle [if KISS opened for us]."

Peter Murphy

Murphy, a 56-year-old Turkey resident, is touring behind "Lion," his 10th studio album and first since 2011.

Notable this time around — for Murphy never does the same thing twice — was a collaboration with producer Youth, who is perhaps best known for his work with Paul McCartney in The Fireman.

"It was very prolific," Murphy said. "We pushed, and that's how the sessions went. Youth really took the helm. … Much of the songs were written on the spot."

"Lion" was recorded in the wake of Murphy's 2013 tour that celebrated the 35th anniversary of Bauhaus, which made him, with all the eyeliner of that era, known as the "Godfather of Goth." "It was a tour for the fans," he said. "It was a tip of the hat to the fans, and in that it was satisfying."

But re-creating the past has never been one of Murphy's priorities.

Reinvention, he said, is "what I do. … What influences me is being away from the music world. I've never been a part of it." —

KISS with Def Leppard

When • Monday, 8 p.m.

Where • Usana Amphitheatre, 5150 S. 6055 West, West Valley City

Tickets • $32 to $159 at SmithsTix

Peter Murphy with Ringo Deathstar

When • Wednesday, 9 p.m.

Where • The Depot, 400 W. South Temple, Salt Lake City

Tickets • $26 to $101 at SmithsTix.