For almost 50 years KISS has been ‘the hottest band in the world, with 20 studio albums under their belt, countless sell-out shows across the globe and a merchandise range to rival even Star Wars, the band have decided to go out on one last trek around the planet before they hang up the platform boots and pack away the makeup for good.
KISS first toured Australia in 1980 and have returned several times over the years much to the delight of their ravenous dedicated fan base (KISS Army), many I know of travelling far and wide for multiple shows and have seen them many times but for me and my sidekick photographer Dan Maynard, is the first time seeing them.
Now it’s rare for the Gold Coast to see gigs of this size, sure we have had the likes of Foo Fighters and the Big Day Out held here among others in the past, but it is usually known for sporting events like the football and Supercars, so as you could imagine having a massive band such as KISS play is kind of a pretty big deal.
Kicking off the show at Robina’s Cbus super stadium is Mulga Bore Hard Rock Band who have travelled from a remote community in Alice Springs to open for their idols.
The Six teenagers (who are still in Highschool) play their hearts out and give it their all to a warm reception from those early enough to catch them.
Something I have always respected about KISS is how they have championed up-and-coming bands and given them a shot, this is a practice I think needs to happen more often and other big-name acts should do as well.
Mulga Bore Hard Rock Band was a great start to the festivities and worth keeping an eye on.
Next up are Aussie stoner rock legends Tumbleweed and their set takes me right back to the muddy Big Day Out days.
Energetic, infectious and entertaining ’The Weed’ sure as hell know how to get a crowd going.
‘Hi everyone, we’re Tumbleweed, I met Paul Stanley on the way, and he gave me a hug’ says frontman Lenny Curley before they rip into a 30 min full on rock n roll assault that no doubt has won over a few new fans.
There is a reason why this band are so beloved and has been around for 30 years and no doubt many more ahead!
As the darkness falls and the moon rises over the stadium, the main support Wolfmother hit the stage.
Their production is a step above the previous acts with each member standing on giant circular podiums in front of the KISS drum riser.
Frontman Andrew Stockdale is in high spirits as they launch into opener ‘Dimension’ which gets the bodies dancing in the pit below.
The full moon rises over the venue to its peak during ‘New Moon Rising’ like a mystical sign from beyond before the band is joined by a special guest appearance by Nick Simmons for the track woman, nailing Stockdale’s vocals in power and range which is incredibly
The songs translate heavier live than they do on radio and It’s easy to forget sometimes how many bangers Wolfmother actually have and how long they’ve been touring the world and headlining big stages in their own right.
As Wolfmother’s set comes to a close with mega-hit Joker and the Thief, the stadium is packed, warmed up and ready to rock for what’s to come.
A job well done by the Byron Bay locals.
The stage is monolithic, with 4 colossal inflatable statues of everyone’s heroes on either side and a silver shimmering KISS logo curtain covering the entire front.
The atmosphere is electric and as the band’s official announcer walks out to introduce the rock legends, the fans go ballistic.
As the curtain drops to opener Detroit Rock City, KISS descends from the roof on hydraulic platforms like gods, surrounded by pyro, lasers, mind-blowing visuals and effects.
The band waste no time in bringing the goods, following it up with classics Shout It Out Loud and Deuce which have the whole place singing along.
War Machine is next and a highlight, Gene ‘The Demon’ Simmons sounds incredible for his age, growling and barking through one of the band’s most loved and heavier tracks to visuals of terminator-like robots marching and throwing their fists in the air, a metal as fuck moment indeed and proof that he is responsible for influencing many of today’s heavier bands.
The hard rock veterans prove that age means nothing, showing the same love and energy for the crowd that they have for decades prior, and I love the fact that it’s not all perfect like the records, the odd vocal crack and missed note here or there make it real and something that has been missed in today’s age of backing tracks and technology.
In saying that the band are really tight, and it has to be noted that Tommy Thayer’s guitar work is incredible to witness live and it’s so cool to see how he interacts with the other members of the band, even copping a lick to the face from Gene’s legendary long tongue as he tries to keep his eye on the job which is hilarious.
Frontman Paul Stanley was born to be up there, his charisma and warmth in the way he addresses his loyal army of fans between songs makes you feel like you are part of something special and it’s easy to forget that his vocal abilities are understandably not what they used to be given how long he has been doing this.
Stanley is a true master of ceremonies and after flying across the crowd on a flying Fox to a second mini stage above the sound booth he leads the band and the fans below into a ripping version of Love Gun and their biggest hit I Was Made For lovin’ You which just sounds fucking huge.
As the lights dim and the crowd awaits its inevitable encore, a piano is rolled onto the stage where drummer Eric Singer performs a touching rendition of former sticksman Peter Criss’s epic classic, Beth, proving that not only is he an absolute beast (or cat) of a drummer but is a multitalented musician in his own right with a powerful voice.
As the gig comes to a close with Shandi and Rock and Roll All Nite, it starts to sink in that this is indeed the last time ever that KISS will be playing down under which is quite emotional not only for the fans but the band themselves.
And as the band give one last bow to the sound of God Gave Rock ‘N’ Roll To You II blasting over the PA and the screams and cheers of the venue, there is a triumphant and bittersweet feeling that we are all a part of something special in the history of rock and roll.
You wanted the best…you had the best, see ya later KISS and thanks for being the hottest band in the world, Australia is gonna miss you!!
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