We all have that one band that got us into music. That band that you’ve stuck with since you first heard them. That band that at times you love to hate and hate to love. For me that band is KISS. I became a member of the Kiss Army when I was 16 years old after seeing them on my TV on the MTV Music Video Awards and Wednesday night, at age 39, everything about KISS came full circle.
Because of my fandom and place within the music industry this is complicated because it’s two sides colliding. However, I’m going to get detailed as well as be perfectly honest about it all. The the good to the bad to the personal.
Let’s start with the bad because it’s always best to try to get the worst out of the way first. No I’m not going on a rant about how Ace Frehley and Peter Criss SHOULD be playing this tour because it didn’t happen and won’t happen and as a KISS fan it’s just par for the course. What shocked me, though not completely, was the unnecessarily high merchandise prices. Yes KISS knows how to make money hand over fist, another aspect of being a KISS fan you live with, but FIFTY DOLLARS ($50) for a T-SHIRT is INSANE.
And then to see a long sleeve T-Shirt for SEVENTY FIVE DOLLARS ($75) blew my mind even further.
As you can see, there’s nothing special about the shirts to have such high priced merchandise. If it was a tie-dyed shirt or all over print you can justify the price but not for just simple designs. I mean I bought an Ozzy Osbourne hockey jersey, that has embroidery, for eighty dollars ($80) on his “No More Tours 2” last summer which honestly is cheap for a hockey jersey with embroidery. But as a KISS fan you expect this and I saw many skip the merchandise as they headed in, myself included.
With the merchandise discussed let’s move on to the personal because KISS is part of why I am the person I am that you’ve come to know. So of course over the years the desire to meet and get a photo with KISS grew. Even though over the years I’ve met members at an occasional signings or appearances over the years they weren’t KISS, they were themselves outside the band. Plus with this being the last tour the 16 year old me spoke through time to say it needs to happen now or it won’t. So with a little help from some family with connections to the right people I got my photo with KISS.
Before you call me out for being a hypocrite for wanting and taking this photo when I’ve stated on my show that Ace and Peter should be playing you need to understand that for me this was a photo of appreciation for what KISS, all members, has done for me. It was the music of KISS that got me through a life threatening bout with pneumonia when I was 18 years old and in an Intensive Care Unit for 5 weeks. Plus over the years their music, from various versions, manages to pop into my ears when needed most. So getting this photo and attending this show was about fulfilling what was started when I was a teen and thankfully good seats were affordable.
As to the show itself, it was KISS on every aspect we’ve come to know. From the moment those famous words came over the sound system saying “You wanted the best, you got the best. The hottest band in the world…KISS” it was the full stage spectacular and show that we know.
As you’d expect the curtain dropped and the band lowered from to rafters, Eric Singer rising up with his drum kit, with the full pyro and lighting spectacular that’s become synonymous with KISS while playing “Detroit Rock City” followed by “Shout It Out Loud” and “Deuce”. Three of the countless classics from the bands early days that had The Garden crowd on its feet and cheering. Unfortunately I don’t think KISS expected to lose the crowd after that as Paul Stanley introduced the song “Say Yeah” from the album Sonic Boom to practically no reaction. Which wasn’t surprising since the majority of KISS fans probably bought their last album from the band 1998’s Psycho Circus or sooner.
But they rallied back by going back to a classic and favorite of mine “I Love It Loud” and other classics. A nice twist happened during “Lick It Up” when Tommy Thayer, Paul Stanley, and Eric Singer worked through the similarities in notes to transition to the opening of The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again” and back.
Beyond that the setlist was more of a greatest hits set. Nothing surprising from their 45 year catalog. And while I understand stand they wanted to play the hits that would reverberate with all fans for their last go it would’ve been even bigger for the long time die hard fans to hear “Firehouse”, “Heavens On Fire”, or “Rain”. It’s those deeper cuts or other hits that would get the biggest reactions on a final tour.
The crowd was fully engulfed again in the show by “100,000 Years” and Eric Singer’s drum solo which seemed to recharge everyone just in time for Paul Stanley’s trip to a stage in the crowd for “Love Gun” and “I Was Made For Lovin’ You” which sounded solid considering Paul Stanley is 67. Did he hit the same notes? No but he got as close as he could, without lip syncing, and didn’t force any notes that might ruin the performance.
Of course it all ended with full on pyro, lights, confetti, and Gene Simmons and Tommy Thayer elevated our over the crowd for their ultimate hit “Rock And Roll All Nite”. KISS ending the night as big and loud as it started.
As the lights lifted it all just made sense. Should Ace and Peter be in the line up for the last run? Yes. Should the set list varied more? Yes. But that wouldn’t be KISS. We got the show they felt we wanted and the show that deep down had each of us rockin’ throughout the night and will be remembered for the rest of our lives as members of the KISS Army.