“You wanted the best, you got the best.”
If you’re a KISS fan, you know the words that come next during the concert intro.
If not, you probably weren’t at Rogers Arena on Wednesday night (Nov. 8) when KISS was indeed the hottest band in the world, with all that pyro.
This is “The End of the Road” for the glam-rock originators on a world tour that started pre-pandemic and concludes Dec. 2 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
Wednesday in Vancouver, for perhaps a final time, the B.C.-region KISS Army came out to salute a band that started 50 years ago with Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Ace Frehley and Peter Criss. The latter two no longer kiss up to Simmons and Stanley, who have joined forces with lead guitarist Tommy Thayer and drummer Eric Singer to keep on KISS-ing well into 2023.
By Stanley’s count, KISS has performed in Vancouver a total of 12 times, “and this will be the last time,” he told the crowd a couple of songs in.
“We’re here to celebrate!”
And so they did, with all the fire-breathing, blood-spitting, rocket-launching, arena-rocking antics that have made KISS the trailblazers they are.
The 23-song set rocked a fine line between old and a few newer numbers, starting with an explosive “Detroit Rock City” and ending with a confetti-showered “Rock and Roll All Nite” more than two hours later.
Personally I would have loved an all-’70s set of songs, but I was lucky to experience that on the KISS reunion tour of 1996, when they put the makeup back on and made my concert-going fantasy come true (I was a kid during the heyday, so it was the show I thought I’d never see).
Stanley and Simmons are now in their 70s, and I got thinking how they probably feel fortunate to wear stage makeup as cover for their age. Don’t get me wrong, they still look great in their Starchild and Demon costumes, respectively, which is pretty cool.
The Starchild’s vocal mix wasn’t great Wednesday, and these days he’s sounding screechy, both in song and those cringe intros of his.
But hey, rock ‘n’ roll all night and part of every day, right?
All of them took turns in the spotlight, of course, starting with Thayer’s post-“Cold Gin” guitar solo and rocket-launching spectacle, a thundering Singer session on drums leading into “100,000 Years” and Simmons’ iconic blood-spitting turn before “God of Thunder,” a real highlight of the night.
— Tom Zillich (@TomZillich) November 10, 2023
By “Love Gun,” Stanley was rope-lifted over the crowd to a “B” stage at the far end of the arena. He stayed for the disco-ball drop of “I Was Made For Lovin’ You” (which was much more metal than the original’s disco groove) and the first half of “Black Diamond.”
An encore followed, starting with the Singer-sung piano ballad “Beth,” and by 11 p.m. it was all over, another KISS show in the books, another arena crowd sent home happy.
I enjoyed the show in the company of a 12-year-old who was at his first KISS concert, so through his eyes I remembered how special the band is for all its legendary theatrics.
If this really is “The End of The Road” for KISS, barring yet another reunion and tour, it was a hell of a run, and so much fun. We in the Army thank you for the memories.
Wednesday’s opener was Crown Lands, an Ontario rock duo that has listened to a lot of Rush albums growing up, apparently. Worth a listen if you’re into prog-rock. If not, don’t bother.