By Ian Bell,
Next Tuesday night, the lights will go down at the Entertainment Centre, a low drone will come over the PA and a voice will declare for the last time ‘ALRIGHT ADELAIDE – YOU WANTED THE BEST YOU GOT THE BEST – THE HOTTEST BAND IN THE WORLD – KISS’.
And for the next two hours that will absolutely be true.
KISS are sliding into FIFTY years of rock’n’rolling all night and partying every day, and are hanging up their 8-inch, platform boots (probably in a KISS museum) and after a number of delays, postponements, rescheduling and pandemics, the blood spitting, fire breathing, greatest show on Earth is heading to Adelaide for one last KISS. There will probably be tongues.
Since 1980 KISS have played Adelaide eight times, nine if you count their five-song set on a shark boat at Port Lincoln in November of 2019 (I’ll get to that!) and Australia’s branch of the KISS Army is fiercely loyal and now counts several generations of fans. For some, Tuesday will be a chance for older fans to take their kids to experience a rock show that may spoil them for all other rock shows for the rest of their lives. For some, it might be their third forth, tenth or for at least one SA fan I know SEVENTY FIFTH time (Hi Kathy). KISS fans do not mess about. Time and time again, they demonstrate how wrong those critics were back in the 1970’s when they were dismissed as a gimmick band that would never get anywhere. They became one of the biggest stadium bands ever. Their fans were rabid and their merchandising unlike anything seen before.
In the ’80s when they ditched the make-up, the critics said nobody would be interested in them without the goop. They proved them wrong again, by making some incredible records and continuing to be a huge live draw. When they decided to slap the make-up back on and reform the classic line up they were again mocked by same areas of the media that have mocked the farewell tour, that originally started 20 years ago.
And do you know who cared about those cynical protestations from the hip music press. Certainly not KISS, and certainly not their legions of fans People are as dedicated to KISS as they are to any religion. There are traditions, rituals, sacred texts (riffs) from which the faithful have never strayed. Do they make sense to people who don’t believe in KISS-tianity? Who cares? I can tell you this – on Tuesday night Adelaide gets its last chance to see KISS in full swing.
Formed in New York City nearly half a century ago, founding members Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons had a clear vision of what they wanted from a band and it wasn’t the jeans and a t-shirt wearing, noodling away for half an hour every song, drudgery that was the norm in the early 1970s. They wanted something exciting. Something explosive. Something sexy. Something memorable. Something timeless. Before long they had embraced kabuki make-up and assumed distinctive characters with their costumes and looks, while ploughing any money they made back into outfits, make-up, props, and effects they could ill afford. Dry ice, explosions, lights, – even in those early days KISS understood that people wanted a show and boy did they deliver. Any KISS show these days will have a zillion, lights, moving stages, video screens, pyro out the wazoo. Gene Simmons will be spitting blood and breathing fire, Paul Stanley will still climb on a flying fox in his huge platform boots and fly out to the middle of the crowd to perform on the b-stage. Gene is 73, Paul is 70.
It took them a while to get to Australia the first time in 1980, we liked ‘em right off but they were doing so well elsewhere (USA, Europe, Japan, etc) it was hard to fit Australia in. Around the time they made Dynasty, which was more ‘dancey’ record (okay people called it their disco record) they were set to finally get down under. The record met with a mixed reaction in the US, were as a ‘rock’ act some fans felt betrayed by them ‘going disco’ and ‘disco sucks’ it tanked over there, with some fans ditching them for the likes of Van Halen. But here in Australia, we fucking loved the disco KISS. Dynasty sold crazy amounts of units and all the singles (Shandi, Sure Know Something and the epic I Was Made For Loving You) being massive hits here. For comparison I Was Made ended up as the second biggest selling single of the year in Australia for 1979, in the US it scraped in at #74 (Racey’s Lay Your Love On Me was Number one). Shandi was a top ten hit in Australia, but didn’t make the US Top 40. So the combination of massive record sales, the tour and the accompanying avalanche of Australian only KISS merchandise around it, was a massive financial boost for the band and in some ways saved them. The lead up to the tour was intense with front page stories every day for months, I have ever seen that kind of coverage before or since. It was gargantuan.
Despite claims that we would ‘see you next year’ KISS didn’t get back to Australia for fifteen years, but the success of the 1995 revenge tour was again record breaking. It was the first time they toured an official convention, with acoustic set, Q&A panel, autograph sessions and a travelling museum of KISStoric costumes, instruments, artwork, it was remarkable. And since then, they have been regular visitors to our shores.
The farewell dates were originally set for three years ago, but there was this thing called a pandemic (you might have missed it, I know you are busy) and then Paul got sick right when Adelaide was supposed to happen, with all the shows getting shut down and re-scheduled. It did not stop Gene, drummer Eric Singer and guitar player Tommy Thayer, making a trip to Port Lincoln to play a corporate show on a shark boat for a handful of lucky KISS fans on the dime of Air B&B. They have played some crazy gigs in their time but that one might take doing beating.
So, it’s finally here, our last chance to see one of the greatest rock’n’roll spectacles you could ever wish to see. The catalogue of songs is legendary, the stage show is epic, expect to go home with confetti in your clothes, ears ringing and a huge smile on your face. Thanks for the music and the bombast guys.
KISS and special guests The Superjesus, play Adelaide Entertainment Centre, Tue 30 Aug with very limited tickets still available (but be quick) from Ticketek. Click HERE to purchase your tickets.