Updated: Jan 22
For some reason I hadn't published this story about the first time I saw, experienced and photographed the band, KISS. It was in March of 2020, last live show I saw before shut down took place. And going out on a high note was exactly what I needed to help me through the lack of live shows that was about to ensue from then, for the next couple years. And what an event it was, that first time seeing them perform live! I eventually saw KISS again on the other side of shut down. A coincidence that KISS bookended both sides of the pandemic for me and the friend that came with me both times. Covering and shooting their shows were quite an experience. The difference the second time for me was, I saw what a big business KISS has made their shows. The pyrotechnics were over the top, and deafened me for a couple days. And for some reason, it felt less about the music but more about the business side of things. More to follow, about the show on the other side of the pandemic.
The stage was set. This show, or rather, this travelling extravaganza is solidly in place. Diamond Dave, David Lee Roth was the opener for the evening. He came, he sang, he did plenty of DLR satire-like leg kicks throughout his set. DLR voice was strong. He sang all the hits that made him and Van Halen climb to the top in the seventies, and into the eigthties. Although, like I said...He was almost a satire on himself, however, I enjoyed his performance very much. And he seemed guinuinley happy to be there. Happy to be on stage again I'm sure. Great set, good pairing and all around very decent performance overall.
On the way to the show, although the friend I went with, had seen KISS a few times in his life, and he has even dressed and performed songs with his band in the eighties as Peter Criss, (the drummer), so he knew what he was about to see. He did tell me that what I'm about to see will be quite an experience...Honestly, I didn't get it, then, however, I do absolutely get it now!
Drumroll...the stage was set. The production of this "SHOW" was nothing short of OVER THE TOP in all aspects. The photogs only had the first two songs to shoot from the pit so although when I think about it, I really should've been quicker and shot more, but what happened to me, a music lover was rare indeed. After the curtain dropped, and the opening pyrotechnics released, Gene Simmons (and his tongue), Paul Stanley, Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer entered, and I lost it! Looking at these icons, inches in front of me was overwhelming and I couldn't stop laughing and thoroughly enjoying those first seconds. It was rather like Superman and Batman standing in front of me in real life. Within a minute, I gathered myself and got started on what I was there for...photography.
As you may imagine, from a music lovers POV, 'twas a great time, but from my POV behind the lens, the experience was unimaginable. These larger than life icons were spectacular to shoot. Their expressions, make up and costuming from head to toe was all, completely over the top and very choreographed. More like a Vegas show than a gig. Not to mention the stage, the pyrotechnics, the hydraulics and the whole show was not a typical concert. It was an experience! And a really amazing experience at that.
All four band members were great. Gene Simmons had his tongue extended most of the show, Paul Stanley couldn't get enough of the stage, Tommy Thayer was not Ace and he was the most 'invisable' of the four, but for me, Eric Singer, the drummer, stole the show! He was fantastic. His musicianship was superb, his stick twirling was phenomenal and at the end he even came out from behind the drum kit and sat at a piano and sang. Towards the halfway mark and going right to the end, the band members were flying high over the audience on the hydraulics meeting the back of the arena and connecting with all the concert-goers. For me, that trait trumps all when it comes to a great show. The connection value for me, was up in the Springsteen, Vedder league...not 'at', but near the top. This show experience will go into my top twenty (or so) concerts of all time. I was never a huge KISS music fan, but for me they've transcended into a fabulous concert experience. I would definitley see them again. If you do get the chance, this band was worth every penny of the ticket price. I actually love being able to write that sentence.
As a side note, this concert was the last public gathering before "shelter in place" took hold. When I think back to that night, it makes the experience even more dear to my heart. We are now more than a month into the new normal of 'shelter in place' lifestyle (April 2020). Remembering that show these days, is even more special to me and my partner. Looking forward to the day public gatherings are safe again!