Without a doubt, KISS was THE band that started it all for me. My obsession with rock music, the way that I dress, even the majority of my friends today…pretty much everything in my life can be traced back to KISS.
As a very young kid when KISS were at their peak of popularity in Australia, they were impossible to miss. They were everywhere! Everyone seemed to be listening to KISS as they were all over the TV, radio, and on the covers of so many magazines! At school, we were all trading KISS cards, eating Kiss ice-blocks and had their posters on our walls at home.
When KISS first toured here in 1980, I still recall being devastated that I was too young to go see them and nobody would take me.
Despite Kiss-mania being a relatively short-lived phenomenon in Australia (they were pretty uncool to most people about a year after their first visit here), I remained a fan for life.
Even though I’ve since seen KISS many times over the years, since missing that first visit here, I was very excited to see that they would be returning to the country for their End of The Road Tour. Initially, Australia wasn’t included on the band’s farewell tour schedule, but thanks to that pesky virus you may have heard about, the whole tour was postponed and then rescheduled with Aussie tour dates added! Thanks Covid 19!
Arriving at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre on the night, it was impossible not to feel the sense of occasion! Of course, there were fans dressed up as their favourite member of Kiss, complete with make-up and elaborate costumes, and plenty of fans just sporting the make-up with their casual jeans and rock T-shirts on.
As is often the case, a KISS concert evokes a vibe that’s like a cross between a rock show and a visit to the circus. It’s fantastic!
By the time the doors to the venue were opened, the gig was completely sold out! There were even quite a few people outside the box office holding up signs to let people know they were after tickets. It was good to see KISS were getting a proper send-off in Adelaide.
Inside the lobby everyone seemed to be buzzing with excitement. By the time I got down to the front of the stage with beer in hand, I was really feeling it myself.
Opening the show was Adelaide’s own The SuperJesus. I was very excited for them (and maybe slightly jealous) as I’ve known these guys for years and know how thrilled they were to be playing on the same stage as KISS. Obviously playing to a room full of KISS fans waiting to see their larger-than-life idols on stage could potentially be a tough gig, the band were up for the challenge for sure. They sounded tight and had a big enough sound to win over the crowd early on in their set. They blitzed their way through some of their best-known songs including Down Again, Secret Agent Man, and ending their set with Gravity, with frontwoman Sarah Mc Leod doing a great job of encouraging audience participation and making the most of the large stage. They did a great job of warming up the crowd for KISS.
Not long after this support set, the giant KISS banner was erected in front of the stage, adding to the anticipation in the room. Anyone who’s been to a KISS gig knows that when that curtain drops…a whole new world is revealed.
As time ticked down to the appearance of KISS, classic rock anthems blasted out from the P.A. getting the full room pumped up for the main event. Through AC/DCs Thunderstruck and Led Zeppelin’s Rock and Roll...the anticipation grew, until…those famous words echoed out loudly across the Entertainment Centre…’You wanted the best…you GOT the best…the hottest band in the world…KISS!!!!!!’
The curtain dropped right on queue and BANG!!! It was on! Lights, smoke, giant flames, fireworks…the larger-than-life band members dropping from the ceiling on giant robotic platforms…THIS is why KISS is synonymous with over-the-top rock n roll theatrics! Within the first thirty seconds of the show, you’re bombarded with everything you could expect from a big rock concert and more.
To be honest, despite being a big KISS fan, before the gig I wasn’t 100% excited knowing what their set list would likely look like. KISS tend to stick to a fairly similar set of their best known hits, songs which I often skip when listening to Kiss as I’ve heard them all a million times over the years.
However, as soon as that curtain dropped and the opening to Detroit Rock City kicked off the show, all thoughts of issues with the set were instantly forgotten. Right after the big opening it was full steam ahead with the massive KISS anthem Shout it Out Loud. This one seemed to have everyone singing along at the top of their voice. From here it was early KISS with Deuce from their first album. During this song, the big screens were showing vintage footage of the band from the early 70s which got me thinking about the beauty of KISS being in full make-up and costumes again. Even though the core band members Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons are in their 70s now, being in character, they still look exactly the same as they did when I worshipped them as a kid! With the face paint on, they are still the star child and the demon, the rock gods they were to me back then! War Machine from the Creatures of the Night album was next, which has become a KISS live staple and fan favourite, despite this coming from a turbulent period in the band’s early 80s history. After this was the first song from the band’s non-make up days, Heaven’s on Fire which has always slotted perfectly into the set as though it was an early year’s classic.
Another song from the Creatures of the Night album that has become a KISS classic was next. I Love it Loud is one of the best rock crowd singalongs ever and did not disappoint, this one had the whole arena joining the call-and-response war-cry in unison, even those who weren’t familiar with this era of KISS seemed to be singing along loudly.
The one song that I was surprised was in the set was next. From the 2009 album Sonic Boom, came Say Yeah. This would have easily been the least known song from the KISS catalogue on the night but once again, being a typical Kiss anthem, it had everyone singing along by the end of the song. After this, it was back to classic KISS with Cold Gin, followed by an impressive guitar solo by guitarist Tommy Thayer, complete with fireworks shooting from his guitar!
The set continued on with popular songs from the band’s history, featuring all the KISS trademark moves, including bassist Gene Simmons breathing fire and then spitting blood while rising up on a platform to sing God of Thunder while looking down from the top of the arena, a drum solo from Eric Singer while his drum riser lifted him up above the stage with smoke billowing from below, and then front-man Paul Stanley being carried from the front of the stage on a zip-line where he performed Love Gun up close and personal to those in the back of the room. From here, the band then launched into I was Made for Lovin’ You while Paul flew back over everyone’s heads to the main stage again.
The last song of the main set was Black Diamond, featuring drummer Eric Singer on vocals, with the band then vacating the stage behind a huge display of smoke and fireworks.
Within just a few minutes, the encore began with Eric once again on vocals, this time sitting behind a glittery grand piano for a rendition of Beth, the ballad originally sang by KISS’ original drummer. Peter Criss
As the show drew to a close, it was time for a song that was a huge hit in Australia for KISS but nowhere else in the world, Shandi, from the Unmasked album. As the opening chords rang out, dozens of huge KISS balloons dropped from the ceiling and it became a fun spectacle to watch as they were thrown around the Entertainment Centre, seemingly in time with the music.
Finally, it was time for the show-closing anthem that has ended many KISS shows over the years, and would likely be the last song the band would ever play in Adelaide…Rock and Roll All Nite. With this, the band certainly went out with a bang! As soon as the band said their goodbyes and launched into the opening chords of the song, they threw everything they had at the crowd. There was confetti pumped out into the air, smoke, fireworks, flames…all of the theatrics they had left in the bank were pumped out onto the stage for their final farewell and it was a spectacular finale for sure!
I seriously doubt that anybody who was in attendance for this gig had a bad time. KISS had lived up to the hype that they put on the best rock n’ roll show in the world and this seemed like a very fitting way to say goodbye to Adelaide on this final tour. To me, this gig more than reminded me of what got me into rock music in the first place, and I suspect it may have even inspired some younger audience members to discover it for the first time!