Words & Pictures: Adrian Hextall \ MindHex Media
Standing in the queue to pick up press passes and the all important photo pass to shoot the band up close and personal, it became apparent very quickly just how many people had rearranged their schedules to change from the understandably cancelled Manchester show and travel some five hours in the car down to London to witness one of the best stage shows you’re likely to see in this lifetime.
Meet and Greeters were twitching in the queue to pick up their tickets and time slots to meet the band but thankfully it all seemed to work out in the end even as the clock ticked closer and closer to the allotted time.
If memory serves me right, KISS have never played the O2 before. Other UK arenas yes, with Wembley normally the venue of choice but to get them at what is arguably the best and biggest UK arena is a real pleasure and the band make sure, given that we wanted the best, we go the best.
Openers The Dives have a trick up their sleeve. The band have come together with a respectable trail of bands they’ve played or worked with but front and centre stands Evan Stanley and if the name seems familiar, it should do. Son of the Star Child, Evan has clearly learnt a thing or two from ‘Dad’ and he puts it all in to the show which, given the rare instruction from the headliners that must have stated “make sure the boys get good sound and lighting for their set”, ensured that the opening 30-40 minutes were more than enjoyable.
The light anthemic pop rock hints at the Beatles, Cheap Trick and more with elements of harmonies that The Monkees used to bring to songs as well. With a four track EP to keep the newly acquired fans happy this is a band that can clearly stand on their own two feet. They would have course be stupid to turn down the opportunity to support KISS but future gigs and following can come from their own shows and music. To steal the title from one of their EP tracks, ‘Everybody’s Talkin’ about the band as a result of the show they put on and no comments have been negative, most have in fact been universally positive. Both the show they put on and the music they play are worthy of investigation and the band are one to watch in the future. Check them out on their SoundCloud page.
Ever the one to play to the local crowd, Paul Stanley arrives with his Union Jack-themed guitar. It’s met with a roar of approval and the band then turn in the perfect two hours of entertainment. So much has been said of the die-hard fans who bemoan the lack of Frehley and Criss but to those people I say “get over it”. If the original four members were performing together, all manner of disruption, arguments and general uncertainty over the future of the gigs would hang over the band. With Eric Singer on drums and Tommy Thayer on lead guitar, the KISS of today is till a lean machine that delivers time and again to the audiences. It’s therefore no surprise that The O2 is packed to the rafters with all manner of fan from young to old, from denim clad to costumed tributes to people who were seeing KISS for the first and possibly the last time. after all, how much longer can Stanley and Simmons really keep doing this? As long as they do… people will come to the Psycho Circus in their droves.
The stage set is a sight to behold with the video screens arcing over the band right into the roof of the arena. If ever a live band wanted to recreate the feeling of watching an IMAX movie live on stage.
Stanley and Simmons remain the stars of the show with both having unique set pieces that allow them their moments in the spotlight. Simmons has unsurprisingly a bass solo that leads into God of Thunder that sees him drinking and spitting blood before flying up into the rafters to perform his signature piece.
Stanley takes to the wires and as ever, flys solo across the heads of the audience to a podium by the sound desk to perform Psycho Circus. This previously has been a chance to hear Love Gun but not only does that change for this show, the latter ‘classic’ KISS track doesn’t even get a look in.
What does get a look in is material from latter era KISS and it’s more than enough to keep the fans happy. For every Detroit Rock City, we have Say Yeah from Sonic Boom and also (make up free era) we get the joy of Lick It Up, accompanied by the sort of innuendo laden intro that would make readers of Viz Comic blush.
Video screens, pyro, lighting rigs and confetti cannons add to the overall impact and the impact is that delivered by a band that never gives less than 110%. If KISS were chocolate they’d be Dairy Milk because every performance contains a ‘show and a half’. It’s way more than enough to keep the fans happy and the newcomers wowed, wondering why this was indeed the first time they’d come to see the band.
Closing with disco king ‘I Was Made For Lovin’ You’ and ‘Detroit Rock City’, the crowd dispersed to the soft tones of ‘God Gave Rock n Roll To You Pt 2’, immortalised through its use on Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey.
Good times were had by all.
Rock and Roll (Led Zeppelin song) Intro Tape
Shout It Out Loud (Moment of silence for Manchester terror attacks followed this song)
Lick It Up
I Love It Loud
Firehouse (Gene breathes fire)
Shock Me (Tommy on lead Vocals)
Bass Solo (Gene spits blood, flies into the air)
God of Thunder
Crazy Crazy Nights
Psycho Circus (Paul flies over the crowd to podium for this song)
Black Diamond (Paul returns to main stage)
Rock and Roll All Nite
I Was Made for Lovin’ You
Detroit Rock City
God Gave Rock ‘n’ Roll to You II – outro tape