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Review: Greg Phillips Photos: Mary Boukouvalas (Whats My Scene)

And so it has come to this. After almost 5 decades of thrilling audiences around the world and selling over 100 million records, Kiss announced a few years ago that their touring days were coming to an end. However, we then had to endure several tour cancellations due to an extremely rude global pandemic before this Australian leg of their End of the Road tour finally arrived.

Tonight my 16 year-old-self says goodbye to the band that put excitement into rock ’n’ roll for me, the pioneers of the pyros, the lords of the rock licks. “You wanted the best … you got the best … the hottest band in the world. KISS!,” blares through the PA as the band hits the stage to a barrage of explosions and flames jettisoned toward the venue’s roof.

“I feel uptight on a Saturday night”, the opening lyric from Detroit Rock City, might have been the first words out of Paul Stanley’s mouth at Rod Laver Arena on this Saturday night, but everyone is about to get real loose. The opening night crowd is already in call and response and singalong mode as the band launch into the classic hit Shout It Out Loud.

It’s difficult to know where to look as there’s so much happening on and around the stage courtesy of the huge video screens and incredible lighting effects. So much colour, in fact I’m sure they invented some new ones tonight.

Paul Stanley tells us Kiss has been coming to Melbourne since 1980 and tonight is the 20th time they have played this venue. It’s a first night crowd, which means these are the real deal fans, those who jumped online immediately to grab their tickets. ‘Deuce’ from the band’s debut album back in 1974 gives Tommy Thayer, the Ronnie Wood of Kiss, an opportunity to unleash his considerable lead guitar skills.

War Machine gives Gene Simmons his first stint in the spotlight as his Demon character lopes around the stage, while his huge bass sound rumbles out of the system. ‘Cold Gin’ a track made famous due to its appearance on the classic Kiss Alive album resonates with longtime fans. Tommy then takes the actual spotlight to solo on his fabulous Gibson Flying V before shooting rockets from it’s neck. Careful where you’re pointing that thing buddy!

Things get dark and ominous with ‘God of Thunder’ as the screens zoom in on Gene Simmons’ wicked kabuki face, blood streaming from his mouth as that famous tongue hangs so low out of his mouth. As the music mounts, Gene heads out of the mist, skywards on a platform. If the crowd wasn’t already pumped, they are now.

The theatrics are far from finished as Paul dares us to invite him into the audience. After a little encourage, the harnessed rock star leaves the main stage and ziplines over the audience to a stage at the rear of the venue, giving that part of the crowd a new front row view. ‘Love Gun’ gives the throng another excuse to sing out loud, not that they haven’t stopped at any point during the night anyway.

Deciding to stick around on the B stage, Stanley encourages us to sing doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo, as they launch into their disco hit I Was Made For Loving You, the crowd by now in total, uninhibited party mode. ‘Black Diamond’ gives drummer Eric Singer a chance to have a bash and rise above the stage amid a startling lazer display and fun bout of fireworks. Eric then emerges from the darkness alone, standing at the piano and introduces the band’s biggest ballad Beth, as the venue lights up with camera phones. ’Shandi’ from 1980’s Unmasked album fills the stadium with giant balloons, as a sense of melancholy permeates the room, knowing that not only is the show soon coming to a close but also our collective attachment to the performance element of this rock ’n’ roll institution, the band that invented the ‘rock show’. There’s only one thing left for the band to do and that’s to ‘Rock ’n’ Roll All Night’, as they throw the full arsenal of pyros at us. The balloons ares still floating, the confetti is raining down upon us, the lazers are going, the explosions are happening, the fireworks are shooting, as we celebrate and say goodbye and thank you to the band who put the fun into rock music, the hottest band in the world … Kiss! For Melbourne fans, tonight is sold out but there are still tickets available for Tuesday’s show before they head to Sydney.

Set list tonight:
Detroit Rock City
Shout It Out Loud
War Machine
Heaven’s on Fire
I Love It Loud
Say Yeah
Cold Gin
Lick It Up
Calling Dr. Love
Do You Love Me
Psycho Circus
100,000 Years
God of Thunder
Love Gun
I Was Made for Lovin’ You
Black Diamond
Rock and Roll All Nite Kiss

Remaining dates:
August 21 and 23, Melbourne Rod Laver Arena
August 26 and 27, Sydney, QUDOS Arena
August 30, Adelaide, Entertainment Centre
September 2, Perth, RAC Arena
September 6, Brisbane, Entertainment Centre
September 10, Gold Coast, CBUS Stadium


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