Full disclosure here, my first ever major concert was Kiss in 1980. That was a good one, a cold, wet and windy Tuesday night at Adelaide Oval in November. Go figure. My oldest brother took me with him and, under the threat of all kinds of death and torture from my mum, looked after me and even gave me the shoulder lift for songs, resulting in me nearly passing out when Ace Frehley pointed at me during Talk To Me.
Youth. Loved it.
It was a bit surreal to find myself in the line for Kiss, 42 years after the event, with my oldest brother (again) and my son. This was to be my son’s first, and only, Kiss concert. I’d already decided that this will be my last major (big) concert. Nothing bigger than the Thebby for me, preferably The Gov. There’s a good reason for this, as we’ll get to.
Last time I saw anything Kiss related, it was when Gene Simmons and Ace Frehley played the Boz Scaggs Room (as my great pal Robin refers to the smaller theatre in the Entertainment Centre). That should have been called a Kiss concert as well, it did have two of the founding members present, same as last night (and you can read my review of that trainwreck here. Oy vey!).
What grabbed me, upon finally getting into the Ent Centre (as we call it) was the amount of heavily made-up pensioners in wigs running around.
And let’s not skirt around the fact. Gene Simmons turned 73 just the other week. Paul Stanley is now in his 70s as well. Time, gravity and milage is catching them both, not that you’d know from the way they throw themselves around the stage, in Gene’s case, wearing God knows how much in weight of costume. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Support act The Superjesus were brilliant. The only flaw, the sound was a bit harsh, but, hey, they were stellar. Sarah McLeod – you ROCK GOD you! The memories came flooding back as they hit song after song after song, with Sarah throwing herself around the stage like she was back in 1996 supporting Bush as the same venue. Unlike 1996, when they blew Gavin Rossdale off the stage, the best they could do was turn in an excellent set, which they did.
You simply can’t blow Kiss off the stage. Gene and Paul were doing this when Sarah was just a twinkle in her mother’s eye. Heck, they were doing it before Leah McLeod was born.
Kiss built the anticipation well. After the obligatory, “AWWWWLRIGHT AD EL LAIDE! YOU WANTED THE BEST…etc etc etc” they came down from the roof to the sounds of ‘Detroit Rock City’. Explosions, fire, fireworks and massive bangs were the order of the night, and, in that first song, they did enough for everyone to go home happy. They packed more spectacle and energy into their opener than most people do in their entire tours, let alone a single set.
They had the audience right where they wanted them, and they knew it. For the next two hours and a bit, they played hard. Gene stalked around the stage (thankfully he didn’t speak: refer to Gene Simmons 28 August 2018 for reasons why). Paul strutted about, prancing and preening himself in a manner that would make Hans happy.
They stripped back the time. Lots of “Hello AD EL LAIDE!” from Paul Stanley, who mentioned it was the 9th time Kiss had played here, in AD EL LAIDE, and damned if they were going to do a last tour of Oztralia and not play AD EL LAIDE! Cue cheering.
At this point in their careers, Gene and Paul would have died to put in a substandard performance. They’re simply incapable of it. The show was a magnificent spectacle, with hit after hit, sing-along after sing-along. The only downside, no original drummer Peter Criss or guitarist Ace Frehley. Replacing them, on instrument, make-up and costume, were Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer, respectively. Ah, who cares? Certainly, nobody present seemed to.
There were no deep cuts, but there were obscurities with the band breaking into The Whos’ Won’t Get Fooled Again and Jeff Beck’s Bolero during two tunes to significant effect. The guitar solo from Tommy Thayer just reinforced Simmons’s claim at the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame induction where he stated that nobody can play or sound like Ace Frehley. Eric Singer is a monster of a drummer, the best the band has had, and he delivered a drum solo that was entertaining. Frankly, I’m not a huge fan of drum solos, and guitar solos, well, if you’re not Eddie Van Halen, then you shouldn’t bother.
And that brings me to the bass solo. Frankly, if you’re not James Jamerson or John Paul Jones, you have no place playing a bass solo. Gene Simmons is no exception. During the evening, his bass was well up in the mix, showing that he is quite a talented player indeed. His bass carries the songs, is inventive and imaginative in it’s playing. Which made the solo, which sounded like a drunk picking up a bass for the first time, puzzling. Oh well, it could have been worse, but I’m not sure how.
Kiss have fully embraced multimedia. The main screen behind them would often show old concert footage, showing departed band members Frehley, drummers Peter Criss and the late Eric Carr and guitarist Bruce Kulick. This footage was interspersed with what was happening on the stage now. Animations, pre-recorded video, it was all there.
And that brings me to the one glaring thing. Stanley can’t hit the high notes anymore. His voice was a bit ragged on some songs, but clear on others. Lip synching? Well, that’s been established. Gene sang live though; you could clearly see that. But, hell, if I were bouncing around on stage at that age, I’d be lip synching too. No crime there.
The show had it all. Corn, loud music, dropped notes, people being carried out by paramedics, flashing lights, flame, fireworks, explosions, giant balloons, confetti – you name it, it was there. All that was missing were monkeys driving little cars to the sounds of the Entry of the Gladiators.
I doubt anyone walked away unhappy, and if they did, well, there’s no helping them.
Like a good tin of baked beans, Kiss does exactly what they say they will on the box. And what they say they’ll do is offer up a magnificent show. And they do.
Until the End of The Road Tour Encore, this is the last chance AD EL LAIDE had to see Kiss. If you missed it, you missed a great show.
Five stars out of five.
Detroit Rock City
Shout It Out Loud
Heaven’s on Fire
I Love It Loud
Lick It Up
Calling Dr. Love
Do You Love Me
God of Thunder
I Was Made for Lovin’ You
Rock and Roll All Nite
Words and pictures: Daniel Best