Come 9:00pm, KISS is set to hit the stage. The arena is packed, with fans of all ages, kids, parents, teens, painted faces, full-on costumes, wigs, and makeup, what you’d come to expect for any KISS concert dialed up to an 11 tonight. The massive KISS logo is up on the curtain covering the stage and the opening video they’ve had for years starts, coming out of the dressing room first and always is long-time manager Doc McGhee, followed by Eric Singer, Tommy Thayer, Gene Simmons and last to exit is Paul Stanley. The iconic and very familiar Doc comes on the PA system with “You wanted the best, You got the Best”, the curtain drops and from the ceiling, the band descends onto the stage with a barrage of lights, fire, and pyrotechnics that puts any other Amphitheater Summer tour to shame.
KISS are bigger than life, I’d say they are bigger than the total sum of its band members. The show is well crafted, polished, and put together to try and represent a massive 50-year career. The setlist is comprised from songs from at least 12 different albums, with the heavy lifting done by Destroyer and the self-titled KISS. Overall, they delivered a jaw-dropping farewell concert that left fans both exhilarated and nostalgic.
What they do best, they do at the highest level of theatrical Rock and Roll. The stage was set with larger-than-life replicas of the band’s trademark personas – the Starchild, the Demon, the Spaceman, and the Catman. From the opening chords of “Detroit Rock City,” they unleashed a sonic assault that reverberated through the arena. With one heavy hitter after the other, going into “Shout It Out Loud” and then “Deuce”. Followed by deeper cuts that catered to some of the more die-hard fans in the area. The chemistry between the current long-time lineup is unmistakable. While Paul and Gene seem to do all the heavy lifting, it’s quite clear how well Tommy seems like he’s always been there, constantly smiling and clearly having the time of his life up there. Demonstrating that even after all these years, their musical synergy remained unmatched.
Each member had their moment in the spotlight, whether it was Gene Simmons spitting fire during “I Love It Loud,” Paul Stanley soaring above the crowd on a zip line during “Love Gun,” or Tommy dazzling the audience with his signature guitar solos as he shoots rockets from his guitar to Eric Singer’s drum solo on an elevated riser and his standout solo moment at the piano for the encore with “Beth”. It all added an extra layer of theatrics to the already dynamic performance which helped bring this massive 2+ hour concert together into a memorable once-in-a-lifetime night.
Reflecting on the Bus ride back to NYC, I did indeed appreciate the band a lot more, 20 years later, watching their every move, the showmanship, the stage presence, the energy on stage, them giving it everything they had after 50 years is both admirable, appreciated and should really be what any band out there with a legacy should strive for.