Live Review: Adrian Hextall Photographs: Adrian Hextall \ MindHex Media
With a ‘final’ tour, no really…. taking place this year and ending in Japan in December, this is it, the end, el finito. By January 2020, KISS will be an ex-band. Or will they? Only time will tell but for now, a sold out arena tour confirms the pulling power the band that has been travelling to the UK for some 45 odd years still has over the public. Everybody knows at least one KISS song. Your Nan probably can sing along to ‘Crazy Crazy Nights’ , everyone over a certain age knows ‘I was Made For Lovin’ You’, Uncle Tommy likes to sing ‘Love Gun’ at weddings…. but that’s another story… Either way, everyone knows KISS. The phenomenal marketing machine that has seen everything imaginable at some point have a KISS logo or design placed on it has made the band one of the most collectible outfits ever.
They’ve also released some superb albums over the years and as any fan will tell you the band built their reputation through incendiary live shows and have to date released multiple ‘Alive’ albums to remind us just what to expect from a KISS Koncert!
With the most unexpected of opening acts, artist David Garibaldi painting by music rather than numbers, it suggested that the band had perhaps spent the budget on pyro and forgotten to book an opening act until Gene checked the coffers and had to work out “what can we get for $5 and a paper clip?” To be fair to David, as unorthodox as a choice as he was, kept everyone entertained and the feedback from fans around me was all imbued with a grin so clearly, job done!
A huge curtain with the band logo emblazoned on it kept the audience in suspense until as one might expect, given the history (or KISStory) of live shows, a huge explosion triggers the curtain to fall, Detroit Rock City kicks in and the ‘last’ London show commences.
Flames, explosions, platform risers, giant video screens and lighting that curves around into the ceiling of the arena. The stage production is nothing short of huge and every bit the over the top extravagance that we’ve come to expect from the self proclaimed ‘Hottest Band in the World….’. Every song performed contains some form of spectacle. Gene and Tommy get to head to the rafters on single risers, they also get to perform over the crowd on huge hydraulic arms. Eric Singer’s kit moves around, rises up, ensuring he’s as much part of the the show as the animated trio at the front of the stage. The lighting, the fire, the props including the fire breathing by Gene or his skull of blood with the zoomed in camera work. All of it is perfect. There are no glitches, no blips, it’s all delivered with military precision, the sort of approach that comes from 45 years plus of being one of the biggest live acts on the planet.
The song choices focus on the ‘makeup’ eras of the band. 70’s era KISS all the way through to ‘Lick It Up’. ‘Crazy Crazy Nights’ may be from the late 80s and non make up but hey, it’s one of the most recognisable, commercial hits for the band and to ignore it would be simply foolish. ‘War Machine’ is a great addition from ‘Creatures of the Night’ era KISS and a period that more casual fans should investigate.
The highlights of course are those that we expect from a KISS show. Gene breathing fire, Paul hooking up to the zip wire and heading to a podium stage for ‘Love Gun’ and ‘I Was Made For Lovin’ You’. The big difference between same old same old and ‘wow’ is the energy the band still put into the show. Strictly they could continue to do this for another decade but by bowing out now, they go out in style with the lingering memory being one of shock and awe rather than a sigh from watching a band who should have finished years ago.
Returning for ‘Beth’ in the encore, Eric Singer proves his chops not only behind the kit but also as lead vocalist on the band’s biggest global hit. Nan’s favourite radio hit from the 80s follows and they then finish with perhaps the most fitting track of all, ‘Rock and Roll All Nite’. The lyrics fit the moment well, we didn’t want it to end but we got to go home, happy in the knowledge that 45 years in, KISS have still got it.
They’ll probably be back in some guise or another, I heard a suggestion recently for KISS 2.0 (Gene and Paul presents) which could feature younger family members in the four roles. Heck why not. It’s the show and sound we all want. Would we forgive them for putting that show on , probably, Gene told me it was a good idea so it must be true……
Intro Tape: Rock and Roll – (Led Zeppelin song)
Detroit Rock City (Curtain Drop)
Shout It Out Loud
I Love It Loud
Heaven’s on Fire
War Machine (Gene breathes fire)
Lick It Up – (with “Won’t Get Fooled Again” The Who cover )
Calling Dr. Love
100,000 Years (with Eric Singer drum solo)
Cold Gin (with Tommy Thayer guitar solo)
God of Thunder (with Gene Simmons bass solo)
Let Me Go, Rock ‘N’ Roll (with guitar and bass solo, Paul and Gene together with Tommy)
Love Gun (Paul on stage in crowd)
I Was Made for Lovin’ You (Paul on stage in crowd)
Beth (Eric Singer on piano)
Crazy Crazy Nights
Rock and Roll All Nite
Outro tape – God Gave Rock ‘n’ Roll to You II