KISS – The End of the Road Tour
Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney NSW
August 27th, 2022
The current KISS tour of Australia has been coming for quite a few years now. I honestly can’t remember just how many times this tour has been postponed with the onset of the COVID pandemic from early 2020. But here we are. The band are doing a final(?) run of Australian dates as part of their last outing as KISS; and I use the question mark as we have heard this before. Now as stated, the band has alluded to farewell tours in the past, but they have just kept on going, and have kept selling out stadiums worldwide for as long as I can remember. I recall vividly the Sydney gig in 1997, the full reunion tour in complete makeup, and I also recall vividly, the countless tours they have done since in Australia. The die-hard KISS fans are unbelievable, so dedicated, unwavering in their adulation, and relentless in their motivation to drop so much coin on their beloved band, and they are all here tonight. But there are also some curious onlookers in the stadium tonight, deciding to see what all the fuss is about, and I can tell them a mile off! This is the second, and last show on the Sydney leg, and the stadium and surrounds have a nice feel to it. There are also a lot of families here, generations of KISS fans, or the to-be-initiated KISS fans. The stadium is not sold out like last night, but there is more than a healthy crowd present, and the important people are here.
The support act tonight is Battlesnake, a Sydney band who describe themselves as “a noxious synthesis of amphetamine and gasoline.” I have actually never seen these guys before and their onstage presence was like a healthy concoction of power metal meets fantasy/medieval-style metal with the band completely decked out in chain mail helmets, shoulder pads and all-in white budgie smugglers. The audience took to them well and if you’re looking to catch them at a follow-up show, they’re playing at the Oxford Art Factory on September 1st… Pack your best tighty-whities and head on down!
KISS hit the stage just passed 9pm. By now everyone is in the room and the feeling around the walls is quite amazing, a lot of energy. As the large curtain with the KISS logo is raised a united scream fills the room. Then, as the lights go down a further, an even more heightened scream fills the room as Led Zeppelin’s ‘Rock N Roll’ is buzzing through the PA. Finally, as the curtain drops, KISS descend from the roof on individual platforms amongst smoke, lasers, fire and an elaborate light show. Yes, they have left nothing out!! The room, the crowd, and even the walls are electric! This is just what you would expect from the opening of a KISS show, big lights, pyro, the stage moving, loud playing and a class track, ‘Detroit Rock City’. The song sounds quite fresh, Eric Singer commanding the time, Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons and Tommy Thayer up front and effects front and centre. Paul definitely can’t sing like he used to, but this is not a problem for the crowd, he is owning the space, and the KISS Army are in total worship mode. Paul actually had a lot of support from the other band members in the vocal department, but to be fair, he carried the band vocally for most of its career. In some ways it was a little sad to hear him struggling for most of the set, but what is the alternative? The band don’t tour at all. It is so good to see him, he looks great, he still has all of the rock star presence, and so many of these songs are his.
The opening track finishes off with a bang and then we are straight into ‘Shout it out Loud’. The band just move into track after track and we get to hear classics like ‘Deuce’ then ‘War Machine,’ and ‘Heaven’s on Fire’ among any mothers. The Paul Stanley “Starchild” banter and rhetoric is solid, consistent, and generally not needed, just as you would expect. But he has the crowd eating out of his hands, so what do I know! He was fantastic tonight, he is the ultimate showman, age aside, he still has it. Look, there were no real surprises tonight, and we knew there wouldn’t be. The lads had come to deliver their ultimate show, and they did. Gene ascended the rigging to sing ‘God of Thunder,’ he breathed fire at the end of ‘I Love It Loud,’ he spat blood, and his tongue was ever-present. Vocally, he is singing really well and sounded great tonight. I really enjoyed his singing the entire set. And as I said earlier, he really supported Paul vocally, Gene worked hard tonight.
Tommy Thayer (who we caught up prior to the tour commencing – revisit here) was really impressive; he really is a great guitarist. I know he has copped his fair share of flack filling Ace Frehley’s shoes and costume, but he was excellent. He was tight, reliable, great to watch, and just so important to the sound. Of course, he played a long solo, it was during ‘Cold Gin,’ and he shot pyro out of his guitar and destroyed some of the lighting rigs, and he did all of this like a pro. I am a die-hard Ace fan, but Tommy has done a great job in this band, and he deserves full credit. Paul and Tommy did a little guitar duel/piece during ‘Dr Love’ and it really wasn’t needed, to be honest, definitely not a highlight. I don’t think KISS have ever done things like this well. It did give Paul’s voice a rest, but it just didn’t fit in my opinion.
Eric Singer as always was amazing. He is truly one of my favourite hard rock drummers and was so even before he joined KISS. The only concern with Eric tonight wasn’t him, it was the fact that he got very little camera time on the big screen and I felt that the lights around his kit were too dark and you really couldn’t see him very well. I remember the first time I saw him with the band, in the early 2000s and he was amazing. He gave the band their edge again and was flawless behind the kit. I really don’t have a highlight for him this evening behind the kit as he was so consistent and tight the whole set through. However, vocally he really stood out. His vocals on ‘Black Diamond,’ and in particular ‘Beth’ were amazing. He honestly sings ‘Beth’ so much better than Peter Criss. I also need to mention his backing vocals, they were really strong also.
I do have to make a special mention of ‘Love Gun’; it is one of my all-time favourite KISS tracks and it was brilliant tonight. Paul flew out to his stage in the middle of the arena, he actually sang it quite well, and the band killed it! This was really played well, and no KISS Army member could be disappointed with their rendition of this tonight.
As the set concluded the band brought out an absolute arsenal of pyro and lights for ‘Black Diamond,’ it was actually quite breathtaking. For encore, the boys did renditions of ‘Beth,’ ‘Shandi’ (which was really, really good, even though it isn’t one of my favourite KISS tracks)’ and obviously ‘Rock N Roll All Night,’ which was accompanied by giant KISS balloons, confetti, streamers, pyro, lasers, lights, smoke and streams of fire. Whether you are a KISS fan or not, you can’t help but be impressed by the show tonight, in its entirety. The KISS Army, the curious on-looker, the partner dragged along with the KISS fan, and the uninitiated child would not have walked away disappointed. If this is the last KISS show ever in Sydney, they definitely left a lasting memory for all present. But I am still not convinced, even after all of this, that this will be the last KISS tour of Australia… Time will tell!
Gig Review by Mark Snedden
KISS – End Of The Road World Tour
Tuesday 30 August @ Adelaide Entertainment Centre, Adelaide
Friday 2 September @ RAC Arena, Perth
Tuesday 6 September @ Brisbane Entertainment Centre, Bris – SOLD OUT
Saturday 10 September @ CBUS Super Stadium, Gold Coast