In a recent interview, Gene Simmons said “We’re the hardest-working band in show business…if Bono or Jagger, who we all love, had to dress up and do what I do, they couldn’t last an hour — they just couldn’t”. Based on Kiss’s performance tonight to a packed O2 Arena, it is almost impossible to argue with the man.
After their successful European run of shows, Kiss returned to London to wrap up the current leg of their KissWorld 2017 tour. We should probably give a brief mention to opening act “The Dives” who delivered a solid if unremarkable set - the band includes Paul Stanley’s son on vocals & guitar.
Once the lights go down, the smoke fills the stage and the riff to “Deuce” kicks in, the audience go wild. The endless chorus of “Shout it Out Loud” is accompanied by flames and a light show that would make Shanghai look poor (it’s followed by a brief and respectful silence for Manchester).
From the early 80s era hits like “Lick it Up” and “Crazy Crazy Nights” to vintage rarities like “Flaming Youth” and newer songs like “Say Yeah”, the band don’t put a single step wrong musically. Even more impressive than that was that Paul Stanley’s voice sounded much better than many a YouTube video would have you believe (the group of friends I had gone with were all equally impressed). While there were still some rough patches the Star Child, still every inch the showman at 65, managed to hit most of his high notes - the intro to Black Diamond sounding particularly good.
Tommy Thayer steps up for a rousing “Shock Me” before Gene literally takes flight and sings a roaring “God Of Thunder” hanging from the ceiling like Batman’s evil twin. Paul Stanley then rides his zip wire out into the crowd for brilliant “Psycho Circus”. No matter what you think of their music or even their delivery, it’s truly impossible to watch the sheer spectacle that is a modern Kiss concert and not be blown away. From flying stages and fireworks to the classic Gene breathing fire and spitting blood bass solo, it’s all there - a rock n’ roll live action comic.
The pyrotechnics come back into full blast for the sing-along of “Rock and Roll All Night” before the encores; the ultimate guilty pleasure rock song “I Was Made for Lovin’ You” , swiftly followed by the gold-plated classic “Detroit Rock City” to send the crowd singing all the way home.
You wanted the best and, as far as showmanship, spectacle and huge choruses go, you got the best. Here’s to their next final tour and the one after that.