I never really got into the music of Kiss. I like harder music, so I’m more of an old school Ozzy Osbourne and Judas Priest type of guy. I never disliked Kiss; I just never got around to their stuff until lately.
Regardless, when I found out that Kiss was about to start their final farewell tour, I bought tickets immediately. Seeing Kiss is all about theater and spectacle. They’re part of Americana. And I had never seen them.
Considering Gene Simmons is about to turn 70 and Paul Stanley will be 70 very shortly, I figured this probably really was the very last time these guys would go out on tour, perhaps making this tour something truly historic in terms of the music industry.
Gene Simmons is also someone I really like (despite his flaws) and one of the few Alpha Male 2.0 celebrities (at least until a few years ago) so figured seeing him would also be fun. I’ve talked about him several times before at my other blog. (At some point I’m going to try to find a way to meet him in real life and perhaps even interview him. We’ll see.)
Last week I went to my first and last Kiss concert to witness the fiery, bloody glory of it all. Despite the fact that I only knew about a third of the songs, it was really fun.
These four old bastards dressed in 50 pounds of armor and nine-inch platform shoes shaped like dragons, covered in black and white face paint, flying around the audience on cables, screaming into their microphones… it was great.
There are near-constant explosions so intense that I could feel the heat on my face even though I was about 200 feet away from the stage. Clouds of long ribbons fall from the rafters and crash into the audience. Massive confetti cannons blast little pieces of colored paper in your face. There’s a constant barrage of lasers and lights. Their guitars shoot sparks and fire and blow up UFO-shaped spaceships that hover over the stage. Instead of two or three monitors, there’s about twenty(!) lined with spikes that float around and change position while they play. Paul Stanley flies over the audience to a floating platform in the middle of the arena, does two songs from there, then flies back. Gene Simmons breathes fire and barfs up blood.
It’s a total assault on the senses and it’s awesome. This is the best concert I’ve ever seen, and I’ve been to some good ones in my day.
It’s also interesting to see the difference in these guys. Gene Simmons (“The Demon”) is pure masculinity; an ugly bastard with a hulking, lumbering presence and a deep, rumbling voice. Paul Stanley (“The Starchild”), his business partner of 40 years, is his complete opposite; a skinny, good-looking, effeminate man who puts on a high-pitched voice who stands, moves, and talks like a flaming gay dude (though Stanley is definitely not gay; he’s banged hundreds of women and today he’s married with kids). Eric Singer (“The Catman”) comes off like an emotional sweetheart, especially when he plays a piano covered in diamonds that rises up from the stage floor. Tommy Thayer (“The Spaceman”) is just a cool guitar player with lasers that reflect off his armor.
If I have even half the energy these guys in their late 60s have when I’m that age, I’ll be very happy.
(And to you hardcore Kiss fans, I’m aware that Singer and Thayer aren’t the two original members. Yeah, I know all about that drama.)
I went to the Portland concert last week. This was the second tour date and the first one of this entire tour in the US, the first one being Vancouver BC. Kinda cool. They also would shout out “Beaverton!” every once in a while since Thayer is from there, a suburb of Portland (and where I met Pink Firefly).
Stanley and Simmons have hinted that Kiss will go on without them if they get too old to play and even after they die, meaning there will be a new Starchild and Demon someday. But it won’t be the same.
I’m glad I could be there for what will likely be the last time the real Kiss (or at least half of them, if you’re a purist) will put on one of their amazing concerts.
This experience has also turned me on to going to more concerts this year. Both Ozzy and Judas Priest, my two favorite bands of all time, are coming to Portland this summer. I will be there (unless I’m traveling during those dates; always a possibility with me). Can’t wait to see a bunch of guys old enough to be my dad jamming on heavy metal guitars and blowing shit up.
This will be a fun year.
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