The queue to get in the door went two blocks, which was hardly surprising when you consider the caliber of the rock legends who were hitting that stage at the Tivoli on Saturday night. The KISS Army were here in full regalia, with shirts, tatts and even a bit of makeup in honour of their fandom. Heading inside, the crowd piled into any space they could, filling the venue to the rafts and beyond if that were possible. In the background, under the crowd ambiance, you could hear much of KISS’s contemporaries like Alice Cooper and AC/DC playing in the background.
The stage was lit in blue, house lights still on. The line to get in was still going causing the show to start a little late so everyone would have a better chance to enjoy the show together. But when it started, it felt sudden. Bells tolled, ringing in Ace “SpaceMan” Frehley onto the stage with the first track of the night, Parasite before playing into Hard Times with the audience clapping along.
Whilst he may not have donned the costume, there were nice references. Frehley sported a bedazzled NASA logo shirt (as a space nerd, I totally want one now) and a couple of his guitar straps were embezzled with metallic lightning bolts. Speaking to the audience about the tour, Frehley said that the audiences in Sydney and Melbourne “were good, but you might top them tonight.” He then played into a cover of the Rolling Stones’ song, 2000 Man which any KISS fan would know from the album Dynasty.
Frehley also mentioned how much he liked the acoustics in older buildings like The Tivoli better than new ones, before performing Rock Soldiers and ripping into Rip It Out. The Spaceman’s guitarwork still as out of this world as ever. He asked the audience if anyone would like to go to Tokyo with him as that’s where he’s heading tomorrow, then performing Love Gun. Throughout his set, Frehley constantly threw out picks to the crowded dance floor, many reaching out to catch the small souvenirs.
In dedication to all the pretty girls he said he was seeing in the crowd tonight, he performed Rocket Ride and Strange Ways. In true theatrical KISS style, Frehley changed guitars to a rad light up guitar for New York Groove, audience singing along and pulling out smartphones to record the moment. Talking about how scary the world can be today, led into Shock Me. The band then left the stage for a few moments, letting the Spaceman shine with some wicked guitar riffs and a literally smoking guitar proving the metal that made him famous. Audience chanting “Ace” in praise of his God-given talent.
With the band returned to stage, Ace rounded out his set with the KISS anthems Detroit Rock City and Cold Gin as his absolutely thundering finish, exclaiming “Thanks and Gene will kick your ass so get ready!”
Intermission time to grab some cold ones and chat with other fellow KISS fans. It’s one of the most passionate band fandoms you’ll ever come across and also quite friendly. I had a few chatting with me sharing great stories of gigs past, reminding you of how great this band’s legacy has resonated in so many peoples’ lives.
House lights cut off, dramatic orchestral violins overture building up. Gene Simmons walked on with the band (the same that performed with Frehley in his set) accompanied by crowd cheers. Breaking into Shout It Out Loud, audience going ballistic, shouting the words out loud before playing I. Simmons asked to turn on the house lights to see the people and asked to “give a hand to Ace”, not that we needed the encouragement coz he put on a great set. Frehley had apparently said to Gene backstage that the audience was rocking and that was an “absolute testament to you”. Jamming to Are You Ready but not before selling the Gene Simmons Vault in true Gene style. Simmons constantly joked throughout, even giving his own rendition of Mambo No 5 before breaking into Calling Dr. Love.
Much like Frehley, Simmons also dressed with a reference to his KISS alter-ego The Demon. His shirt black with silver studs along the shoulders, front and cuffs, although he was minus his sunglasses which he wears for most media interviews.
He asked the audience “whether it was fortune or fame? Money or personality?” but let’s face it we all know the real answer is Charisma. He asked about the colloquium “fair dinkum” before proposing a choice of “She’s So European” or “She’s So Australian”. Needless to say, She’s So Australian was the right choice and had a laugh with Simmons’ attempted Australian accent. After discussing whether there was a perfect age for a woman, performed Love Theme From Kiss along with Don’t Let Me Go.
Now for the time to start bringing on some special guests. The first of which, a chick (yes Gene, you can say “chick” I’m a chick and I’m saying it) called Chrissy from Tasmania who surprised all with her actually strong vocals on I Was Made For Lovin’ You while Simmons took to the back with his bass.
Bringing on more chicks (the VIPs that is) to sing along to Do You Love Me packed the stage. The VIPs attempting to selfie with Simmons and even to get some stuff signed. Simmons commenting, “If I only I weren’t gay” to the roar of laughter before introducing the band members Phil, Jeremy, Ryan and Christopher.
I should also take a moment too, to say how freaking amazing the band accompanying Simmons and Frehley really were. The boys all from Tennessee, rocked both sets tremendously and according to Simmons, “were all single for one night only”. They had the chops both vocally and instrumentally to match up well with Simmons and Frehley. They have the makings of Rock God status, which you would need to possess as a prerequisite, to accompany legendary Rock Gods like Simmons and Frehley.
Speaking of legends, Simmons surmised that he and KISS wouldn’t have been without legends like that of Chuck Berry and Little Richard, proving his point by performing Little Richard’s Long Tall Sally. He then moved on with Watching You and Radioactive.
It was time for some beef, a “sausage fest” as Simmons put it, with the VIP guys taking their turn on stage with I Love It Loud really getting into the spirit and probably have had a few spirits by this point. He headed into Plaster Caster before bringing his brother-in-arms Ace back on stage. Frehley taking the opportunity to thank Gene for inviting him to come along on this tour, celebrating the 40th anniversary of release of the KISS solo albums. Simmons telling the audience the story of the first time Paul Stanley and he had first heard Ace and how much they loved his sound, when he played the song, Deuce.
Heading to a big finish like only the kind these talented rock veterans can deliver, brought back all the VIPs on stage for a packed out finale of Rock’n’Roll All Nite with hands in the air, cold ones raised in the air in salute as Simmons announced that “KISS will come back in 2019!”
Review Contributed by Sarah Minazzo
Gallery Contributed By Tracie Tee