14 October, 2015

KISS Army: They Want You As A New Recruit

If you’re not a KISS fan, you’ve just never been to one of their shows.

I'll start out by saying that despite enjoying their outrageous get up and knowing about 3 of their songs (the big hits) the extent of my knowledge of KISS was that God gave rock n roll to us so that we could rock all night and party every day. Or something like that. I remember having a KISS shirt when I was in uni, but I don’t know what ever happened to it. Or why I had it in the first place. Knowing all of this, you might think I was a bit crazy for handing over $140 to go see them. I wondered if I was. But I had it on good authority that I would not be disappointed, and they had a reputation for putting on the greatest show on earth. So along I went, not really knowing what to expect or if I’d enjoy the music, but keen to catch a glimpse of this promised spectacle.
 
The Dead Daisies had the tough job of warming up the crowd. There was no mistaking that everyone was here to see KISS and so seemed rather unenthusiastic about the Daisies, despite their all-star line-up. Featuring members of Guns n Roses, Thin Lizzy/Whitesnake, Motley Crue and more, the band was joined by a couple of Aussie members including Dave Leslie of the Baby Animals. What crowd that had already gathered was appreciative but no doubt it wasn’t the rousing reception these rock stars are used to. I guess that’s what happens when you’re the support act, regardless of who you are.
By the time KISS was ready to take to the stage, the venue was packed to the rafters with a full cross section of age groups. Having been rocking out for more than 40 years, your music is bound to span the generations. Suddenly a voice boomed over the crowd “You wanted the best, you got the best. The hottest band in the world – KISS!" and with that the arena exploded with the roar of thousands of fans as the band descended down onto the stage on The Spider under a hail of flames and fireworks, ripping out crowd favourite Detroit Rock City.
The pyrotechnics were outstanding, the kind of thing you’d expect to see at the climactic finale of a huge act, but these were just the beginning of the onstage antics. I was hooked from the get-go and it was very clear to me where my $140 had gone – on all the flame throwers and glam rock fireworks – and I didn’t mind one bit. Despite their age, the guys rocked out, and offered up a great sounding performance that was the best they’ve sounded in a while according to some of the diehard fans.
 
Paul Stanley, sounding very charmingly Jewish, chatted with the crowd throughout the night showing a humility and kindness that went beyond rockstar ego but still managed to keep the crowd pumped. Gene Simmons performed fellatio on his guitar all night, spitting blood and quite obviously enjoying his cheeky rapport with the crowd. While the creases underneath their makeup were evident, not once did they seem out of breath or struggle to keep up with the rollicking pace of the show. Paul Stanley didn’t even bat a star-painted eyelid as he shredded his guitar flying hundreds of metres above the crowd.
 
My cheeks hurt from smiling, and as the lights went out and crowd began to shout for more, I wondered what could possibly be coming next. Of course it was their mammoth encore, featuring a touching rendition of Shandi (a song I vaguely remembered before tonight) that saw the crowd singing along audibly over the band, lit up phones swaying and held high, while Paul Stanley simply said ‘Wow’ over and over again. It really was beautiful. More pyrotechnics signalled a rip-roaring trifecta of their biggest and best-known hits Shout It Out Loud, I Was Made for Lovin' You and Rock and Roll All Nite that saw the crowd covered in cannons of confetti, singing til they were hoarse.
 
As the house lights came back up and the smoke cleared, we slowly made our way out of the pits to the strains of God Gave Rock 'N' Roll To You being piped over the PA, it occurred to me that just maybe I am a KISS fan after all.