THE O2 ARENA, LONDON
WEDNESDAY 31ST MAY 2017
9 out of 10
OK, I admit I am not the biggest Kiss fan around but even I had to try and get tickets for this show when it was announced in November of last year. With a combined age of nearly a quarter of a millenium there was no telling when, or even if, the glam-rock band from New York City would hit these shores again. I had only seen them previously once before, a small charity gig at the Kentish Town Forum a few years back, a gig with no stage show, no pyrotechnics, no over the top antics so I was, in fact, a Kiss virgin.
My cherry was well and truly popped at the O2.
The journey to the venue was a sombre one. With the terrorist attack in Manchester just over a week previous, I was expecting tightened security and that’s exactly what we got. Airport style metal detectors and bag scanners were employed just inside the doors and additional ones further inside the venue but not one person complained. Music is there is bring us all together and if these added measures made sure this happened then it was fine by all of us.
Once inside the venue, I was confronted by an onslaught of Kiss logos emblazoned across the chests of people of all shapes and sizes ranging from the toughest looking man to the smallest child and painted faces were everywhere. I have been to a fair few gigs over the years but nothing really prepared me for the enthusiasm showed by Kiss fans.
Queues for the merchandise stall were ten or twelve people deep, each person wanting this year’s tour shirt to add to their many already hanging in their wardrobes back home, and venders selling the tour programme were literally everywhere.
We all know the history of Kiss. Formed in 1973 in New York City with original members Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Ace Frehley and Peter Criss, they have often been described in the past as a brand masquerading as a band. Ok, so they are not the most talented of musicians, and I can think of a LOT worse ones, but they don’t need to be. Their career has always been based on their live performances, their Kiss Alive album catapulting them to superstardom, and really they are just four guys playing good old fashioned rock and roll.
Opening with Deuce, from the album Kiss, it was apparent from the start this would be an evening of classics. Shout It Out Loud came next and this was followed by a moments silence for the victims of the Manchester bombing. Union Jack flags blazed onto the screens along with the slogan “We Stand with Manchester”, a fitting memorial for the atrocities that had occurred a week before.
The music kicked in again with Lick It Up, an obvious crowd favourite, and this was followed by Firehouse. All in all there were only two songs on the whole set list that I didn’t know, so the die-hard Kiss fans would have been extremely happy.
All the hits were there from Crazy, Crazy Nights to Psycho Circus to Black Diamond and a Kiss show wouldn’t be a Kiss show without God of Thunder and Gene Simmons’ blood-spitting demon routine. I have heard this being compared to an old grandad’s party piece that people humour so not offend said grandad but I think it’s a little more than that. It’s part of the backbone of a Kiss gig and any new Kiss fans or people seeing them for the first time would hate for it to now, after all these years, be suddenly omitted from the show.
With pyrotechnics galore, ticker tape (do we call it that here in England?) and Paul Stanley zip-wiring to a circular stage amongst the crowd, this show certainly had all the hall-marks of a Kiss show. But let’s face it. To call a Kiss gig a show is really an understatement, with words such as “spectacular” and “extravaganza” springing to mind.
All four guys were on top form for the whole performance, Paul Stanley’s voice faltering ever so slightly at times but his showmanship more than made up for it, Gene’s tongue appeared more times than a snake’s searching for food, and both Eric and Tommy were fantastic. Never before have I seen a band with more stage presence and charisma as these guys…..and I have seen some egos over the years.
Their closing song was, none other than, Rock n Roll All Nite, with an encore of singalong song, I Was Made For Loving You and the awesome Detroit Rock City. My only gripe is that they never played Strutter, my favourite, but them’s the breaks I guess. They can’t play EVERYONE’S favourite song now, can they?
All in all, a Kiss gig is an absolute must and I, for one, am glad I was able to see them before they hang up their platforms and face paints for good.