Everyone remembers his or her first KISS.
That overwhelming experience that takes you into a new realm of emotion,
That fires your imagination, blocks out the real world and all it's cares
and worries. I'm talking about the rock band KISS of course, not the first
experience of sucking face with a girl who is in that awkward stage between
being a girl and becoming a women.
My first KISS was when I was still just
a kid, I had an older cousin who thought it would be cool to turn this
little kid onto the world where hard rock collides with comic books. It
was the 1982 Creatures of the Night tour, the last that KISS performed
in Make up until reuniting in 1996. From the open chord on Vinnie Vincent's
guitar and Paul stepping up to the mic singing "I feel alright on a Saturday
night", I was mesmerized by the spectacle on stage. Gene spiting
blood and breathing fire. Eric Carr's drum riser designed to look like
a tank turret that swiveled and threw forth fireworks during the climax
of "Black Diamonds".
No other concert since has lived up to
the sure magnitude of that show in my mind. After that night it was all
she wrote, I was an enthusiastic new recruit in the KISS Army. During the
80's I got to grow up with KISS. While most people abandoned them during
their unmasked years, I remained a true believer. The message of some of
the songs carried a powerful meaning for me as a teenager. With thoughts
of believing in yourself, going for what you believe in, I was hooked.
I was a KISS junkie. To me KISS was more than just a band, they were a
way of life, a mindset that tells the world yeah I'm different and proud
It is now the year 2000 and I am no longer
a kid with visions of the star child, space ace, the bat lizard and the
cat man firing my imagination. KISS had announced that they are putting
an end to their almost 30 year reign as the kings of rockin. So it was
not without a touch of sadness that I decided to go see them one last time.
To witness the magic once again and to say goodbye to my rock n roll heroes.
It was March 18th the day after St. Patrick's
day and KISS was playing at the Aerohead Pond in Anaheim California. The
opening bands were great. Skid Row now carrying on without Sabastian Bach
still knows how to please a crowd. Ted Nugent, a legend in his own right
brought the house down with his motor city madman brand of rock n roll.
But these two bands were no match for the sure spectacle that was about
to take place.
The house lights dimmed and over the PA
a voiced boomed.. "Alright Anaheim, You wanted the best and you got the
best! The hottest band in the world, KISS!"
The band made a spectacular entrance by
descending from the ceiling on a platform amidst dry ice mist and dramatic
back lighting against their black costumes. Paul walked up to the microphone
and said, "This is your night to say farewell. I know it's hard to say
goodbye, but were going to make this a night to remember, people! and
the band launched into scorching rendition of Detroit Rock City followed
by unusually heavy performance of "Shout it out Loud!"
KISS performed a letter perfect "Deuce"
and then Paul strutted over to the mic and said " I'm going to let Ace
tell you about this next song." Ace sheepishly told the crowd in his awkward
voice, "this song is about the time I was electrocuted" and then shouted
"Shock Me! He plunged into the familiar riff, not missing a beat. After
"Shock Me", Paul waited for the crowd to quiet down and then said, "It's
getting hot in here." He removed his shirt and continued, "Its so hot in
here, were going to have to call the Firehouse! then sirens and red
strobe lights and smoke filled the stage as the band began the KISS classic.
The culmination of the Firehouse included Gene's famous fire breathing.
Sure, we've seen it a million times but it is still great to experience.
Next Paul announced to the crowd "I have
a personal question for you. He placed both bands on the mic and
asked, Do You Love Me? and Peter pounded out the familiar beat to the
Destroyer classic. From there they played "Dr. Love" followed by
"Psycho Circus." Paul announced the next song by telling the fans that
there was a time when all four members weren't together. Gene and Paul
carried on with other people and released several successful albums. He
told the fans "This next song has a famous intro". And he sang the opening
wail to "Heaven's on Fire".
The mayhem continued with Ace's version
of the Rolling Stones "2000 Man". At the end of "2000 man" Ace played his
one of his spacey extended guitar solos until smoke started coming from
his Les Paul. He staggered around the stage with smoke filling the air
until the guitar was lifted from his hands and levitated to the ceiling.
Hard to top that, but they gave it a shot with a blistering performance
of "Lick it Up".
Gene walked to the center of the stage
and moved his head menacingly left to right, strumming power chords on
his bass. Then blood began escaping from his mouth, he pounded out
the bass chords and spit the blood into the audience. He was then propelled
into the air like a bat and sang "God of Thunder" from a perch on top of
the lighting rig. Unfortunately, something went wrong with the hydraulics
and Gene was left suspended above the stage when they attempted to bring
him back down. A roadie remedied the situation by bringing out a crate
for Gene to stand on while they unhooked him. Then it was Paul's
turn to have a hydraulic mishap. For "Love Gun" he was supposed to fly
out over the audience to the center of the hall and sing the song from
the sound booth. He made it about five rows out, when the hydraulics stopped
cold. Gene carried on and sang the song, while the road crew worked feverishly
trying to retrieve Paul. By this time fans were reaching up, trying to
grab his boots and rip the spandex from his body. By the songs mid point
he returned and signaled for the band to stop playing. Paul took
it in stride and told the audience, What a bummer, I really wanted to
come out and sing for you. Pretend Im out there with you, but Im
here. "Love Gun" came off with out a hitch on the second try.
Paul's intro to "Cold Gin "showed just
how much times have changed. No longer asking the crowd "When your down
in the dumps and you need something to bring you up. There's only one thing
that's gonna do it for you
." This time he simply said, We are real proud
of this song, but things were different when we wrote it. We dont
want any of you to drink and drive, because theres nothing cool about
a drunk, dead corpse. We might come back through Anaheim some time
and we want to see all of you alive. The powerful Ace Frehley guitar riffs
of Cold Gin filled the hall and the audience screamed the words along with
For the first encore Peter came out from
behind his drum kit and sang "Beth", which he dedicated to his late mother.
Then the band played the song they call the national anthem of rock n roll..
"Rock n Roll all night". From the first note confetti exploded from the
sides of stage covering the audience and continued flowing during the entire
song leaving the hall filled with confetti from the first row to the nosebleed
seats. Fireworks went off left and right and the band drenched in sweat
gave it all they had one last time for this southern California crowd.
Almost thirty years of rock history will
soon come to a close. KISS outlasted most of their critics, fired the imagination
of millions of fans around the world. They left us a catalog of hundreds
of great songs. Best of all, they left us with some great memories. Life
can some times be a drag, but KISS has always been and will always be an
escape from the rigors of everyday life. KISS is not just a band, it is
an attitude, a belief that anything is possible if you work hard enough.
These four guys from New York went out into the world and changed the course
of popular music, with their dream. Just like there will never be another
Beatles, there will never be another KISS. Thank you Paul, Gene, Ace and
Peter for sharing that dream with us, we will never forget you.
On a personal note, the excitement of the
performance was somewhat overshadowed by the sad realization, that this
was goodbye. KISS had been a large part of my life. Now that they are saying
goodbye, it might just mean I will have to finally grow up. Then again,
I still have their albums and memories of a dozens of concerts
ARMY marches on!
the Official KISS website
Credits: Written by antiGUY and Keavin
Wiggins with the aid of Debbie Seagle's concert notes.