Party every day with Kiss
It seemed as if the road could go on forever for Kiss. Although cofounders Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley reunited the band after a 2000-01 farewell tour with original members Peter Criss and Ace Frehley, rock fans had become accustomed to goodbyes and returns for bands such as The Who and The Rolling Stones. Stars that didn’t die before they got old either couldn’t stay away from the stage or found audiences still wanted to catch them live, but every story has to have an ending. Simmons and Stanley wanted Kiss to end with a bang, and in September they announced it was time to write the band’s final chapter.
One Last Kiss: End of the Road World Tour was scheduled to kick off Jan. 31 in Vancouver and is set to run through September, ending with a Sept. 16 date at Oakland Oracle Arena. “We’re doing the absolute biggest Kiss show,” Stanley told the hosts of Good Morning America on a late-October broadcast, a month after springing the news on the public with a live performance during the season finale of America’s Got Talent. “Everybody who goes to see a band, a rap star, a country star, a rock star, you’re seeing a Kiss show nowadays. … We go out there and raise the bar. We will raise it again.”
Stanley and Simmons are not exactly known for their modesty, but Kiss arguably changed audience expectations for concert performances. While lighting and lasers would still have become ubiquitous, pioneering work with stage design for Kiss shows and over-the-top performances would become concert conventions. By the time Criss and Frehley joined, there was a cohesive image and vision that, combined with the limitless ambitions of Simmons and Stanley, launched the band to stardom.
The iconic makeup was crucial, but the band built a buzz with live shows. While each album after 1974’s self-titled debut steadily sold more, Kiss arguably had the most exciting live show of the mid-’70s. Simmons, “The Demon,” breathed fire and spit blood, Spaceman Frehley’s guitar exploded, Criss the Cat’s drum riser levitated, and Stanley created a template for future frontmen with his Starchild. They wore platform heels that made them look like giants, and for a few years were the biggest band on the planet.
Kiss turned out to big enough to go on without Criss and Frehley. Guitarists Vinnie Vincent and Bruce Kulick, and late drummer Eric Carr contributed to their makeup-less ’80s resurgence, but the Spaceman and the Cat would be back in full regalia for the mid-’90s reunion of the classic lineup. Now longtime drummer Eric Singer and guitarist Tommy Thayer are on board for End of the Road, and Stanley is adamant that Kiss is in the best shape ever. “We’re going to go out and not only live up to the Kiss fans’ expectations,” Stanley said on GMA. “We will smash them to bits, and people who have never seen us before will come to the shows and say, ‘Why didn’t I come to the shows earlier?’”
T-Mobile Arena, 7 p.m. Feb. 15, starting at $29.50 plus tax and fee. 888.929.7849 AXS