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Despite having ticked off a good chunk of iconic bands on my ‘see before I die list’, until last Wednesday I was yet to have a night of grandiose partying with the genre’s most famous face-painted rockers.
And although I wasn’t too familiar with their back catalogue, when the opportunity came to see KISS, I felt compelled to go along and see what the fuss was all about. And damn, did I receive an education…but not without a few sour notes.
First up was Etihad Stadium’s weird intimate mode. Obviously, Rod Laver Arena must have been booked, or there were too many smoke detectors in there ready to be set off by all the pyrotechnics. So, Andrew McManus and co. took over one quarter of Etihad to create something that was a pretty OK setup, but felt pretty makeshift at the same time.
Then, there were the three barriered sections on the GA section of the ground, a bit extreme for a show that was supposed to be in ‘intimate’ mode. Upon walking in from one end, the front two sections looked to be pretty thin in terms of space. And as for the back GA, well, considering the show wasn’t a sell-out, there was plenty of room to stretch out.
My friend and I arrived just as Thin Lizzy were piling out their last track – The Boys Are Back in Town – and despite a bit of a sing-along from the crowd, it looked like we hadn’t missed much. A couple of $10 beers later (another nay) and Motley Crue arrived via a victory lap around the mosh pit, complete with their scantily clad female roadies hoisting gigantic banners, and frontman Vince Neil holding some sort of warrior weapon.
From here, the fiery stage production started to kick into gear, with flames, lasers and female acrobats featuring throughout as the Crue dug into their back catalogue for classics such as Sex, Dr. Feelgood, Girls Girls Girls, and closer Kickstart My Heart.
Unfortunately, frontman Neil sounded a little past it, with his screechy voice between songs quite off-putting. The same can’t be said for drummer Tommy Lee, who impressed with his rollercoaster-themed drum solo that saw him drumming upside down and at different elevated angles, and transferring promptly between piano and his kit on the powerful Home Sweet Home.
After a longer than expected wait (about 45 minutes) KISS descended down from the top of the arena on two different platforms with a shower of fireworks behind them, starting opener Detroit Rock City mid-air. It kicked off an old-school rock extravaganza with all the bells and whistles.
Whether it was fireworks or flames during nearly every song, gigantic flashing signs and bright lights, the countless rock star poses (Gene Simmons never gets sick of wagging his tongue or spitting fire) or rockin’ out on elevated platforms at all sorts of angles, I was literally blown away by the grandiose nature of the show. Sure, KISS fans have probably seen it all before, but for someone who hadn’t seen them live until tonight, I found it incredibly impressive.
The interacting-with-the-crowd-at-the-back quota was also fulfilled in a mega way, with frontman Paul Stanley clipping himself onto a flying fox and performing Love Gun on a revolving stage high above the sound desk at the back of the General Admission area. This was followed up by a gigantic white confetti shower during timeless hit Rock and Roll All Nite – and a casual ride on some sweeping platforms above the crowd.
However, what could have been a near-perfect show was spoiled by the non-inclusion of arguably their biggest hit I Was Made for Loving You. At first, I thought it was because of the pretty dull crowd at the front of the pit, but later, I discovered that it was because of KISS starting late and Etihad management inflicting their 11pm curfew, hence why the encore only consisted of Lick It Up and Black Diamond.
It was a downer on what was otherwise a great night of killer vintage rock. My cheapo $5 wristband, which I bought after the show, contains the line, ‘Rock and Roll All Nite, and Party Everyday”, and there’s no doubt KISS can still do that with ease. However, the setting in which this ace display was showcased needs a bit of work.
(Photo by Anwar Rizk)