On arrival at the Hydro tonight there was a tight cordon of security following the tragedy at Manchester Arena the previous week. Whilst being searched the security guard asked if I had seen Kiss before to which I replied, yes many times. In fact, I haven’t missed a Kiss UK tour since 1983 and when you add in numerous festivals as well it adds up to quite a total. So, what keeps me and countless others turning up whenever the Kiss circus hits town?
The fact is that very few bands make the effort to put on a show these days. You could argue that Kiss have been putting on the same show since 1977, give or take a video screen or twelve, but it is still a spectacle to behold.
The music industry has changed in such a manner that gigs like this, and the recent Iron Maiden tour, are just too costly to put on for most bands and with the exception of Rammstein the days of the big production may well be numbered. So tonight the Hydro was again filled to the rafters to witness the full-on Kiss production and we were ready to rock n roll all night.
First up though we had a short support set from The Dives. The band have only been together for about a year and play what they call ‘power pop’, think a rocky Tom Petty with a large dash of The Beatles and you aren’t far off. This was the band’s first arena gig and they are about to release their debut EP, so you may wonder what they are doing opening up for the hottest band in the world?
The answer lies in the band’s frontman, a certain Evan Stanley. Yup being the son of Paul Stanley has its benefits, but hey who wouldn’t give their offspring a helping hand if they have the chance? The Dives though are a young and fairly inexperienced band and it did show. Musically there was nothing to set the night alight and their stage presence is in need of development, more gigging should see to that.
Playing tracks from their new EP entitled ‘Everbody’s Talkin’’, coupled with the odd cover to fill out the set, the band did give it their best shot. The guys tried to whip up the crowd but ultimately their efforts were met with polite applause. One thing I did note though was the that the guitar playing of Stanley owed more to his Uncle Ace rather than to his dad, he even had an Ace like thunderbolt on his guitar strap!
The evening was always going to be about the main event though. It had been six long years since Kiss last appeared in Glasgow and anticipation was high for another chapter in Kisstory. As the PA blasted out the last bars of Led Zeps ‘Rock n Roll’ the lights went out and the Hydro shook with the cry of ‘Alright Glasgow. You wanted the best, you got the best, the hottest band in the world, KISS!’ Cue explosions, tons of dry ice and Gene, Paul and Tommy atop a huge hydraulic platform, this is rock n roll!
‘Deuce’ kicked things off and was quickly followed by ‘Shout It Out Loud’ with Gene stalking around stage right while Paul danced around and played up to the crowd and the photographers in equal measure. Proceedings were then halted briefly to remember those who died in the Manchester terror attack the previous week. Paul called for a minute silence while the back screen projection paid tribute to those lost, a fitting show of solidarity with the city where Kiss played their first UK gig almost exactly 41 years ago.
‘Lick It Up’ then restarted the party with the anthemic ‘I Love It Loud’ following hot on its heels. Talking of hot, ‘Firehouse’ found Gene in full fire breathing demon mode before Tommy Thayer stepped up to the mic for an excellent rendition of ‘Shock Me’ followed by an explosive guitar solo complete with his rocket firing guitar.
The surprise of the night was the inclusion in the set of ‘Flaming Youth’ from the Destroyer’ album which was accompanied by a video featuring Kiss in their early years with Ace and Peter Criss strutting their stuff. Eric Carr also made an appearance on screen which was nice to see.
After ‘Flaming Youth’ the stage was left in darkness and swathed in dry ice and green light. Gene Simmons emerged from the shadows for his hall shaking bass solo complete with fake blood and a flight up to the lighting rig. You may have seen it all before but you cheer along as if it was the first time you had witnessed the demon in action. Gene then sang ‘God Of Thunder’ from the lighting rig before coming back down to earth for the end the song.
‘Crazy Crazy Nights’ had the Hydro crowd singing along whilst the riff for ‘War Machine’ was as heavy as a hippo in a steam roller. The set then took a more modern twist with ‘Say Yeah’ from the band’s last album ‘Sonic Boom’ getting an airing. Paul then said he wanted to come out to meet us and took a zip wire trip across the hall to a platform at the back before Eric Singer led the band into ‘Psycho Circus’. Stanley then remained on the rear platform for the intro of ‘Black Diamond’, cue more singing from the crowd.
Paul made it back to the main stage to complete the song which then went straight into the crowd favourite ‘Rock n Roll All Nite’. This was accompanied by a barrage of explosions and confetti cannons going off all over the hall adding to the festival atmosphere. It was also the cue for the guy in front of us to turn to his girlfriend complete with diamond ring and ask her to marry him! Thankfully she said yes, no guessing what the first dance at the wedding will be!
With more flames, explosions, Paul smashing his guitar and Gene and Tommy flying out over the crowd on mobile cranes the set came to a flaming climax after which the cheers were deafening. The guys weren’t finished though and returned to the stage for the disco classic ‘I Was Made For Loving You’. The set was finally rounded off with ‘Detroit Rock City’ and more pyrotechnics, they really went out with a bang.
This was another classic Kiss performance. It wasn’t perfect, Paul is now suffering vocally and at times it was hard to make out what he was saying between songs far less hitting the high notes during ‘I Was Made For Loving You’ and as I said the set pieces throughout the show were the same as always.
Did it matter? Not a bit! This was a Kiss show and whether this was your first live Kiss experience or your twentieth you couldn’t fail to be entertained. The crowd on the way out were still singing ‘Rock n Roll All Nite’ a mark of a good show in anyone’s book.
Review and photos by Dave Wilson
David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 20 September 2020.
UK Blues Broadcaster of the Year (2020) Pete Feenstra presents his weekly Rock & Blues Show on Tuesday at 19:00 ( BST, GMT+1) as part of a five hour blues rock marathon “Tuesday is Bluesday at GRTR!”. The show is repeated on Wednesdays at 22:00, Fridays at 20:00). This show was first broadcast 22 September 2020.
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