It's hotter than hell this one. It's the hottest ticket in town this summer. Period. When Sonisphere Festival was cancelled due to all manner of problems, Kiss decided to box clever, and announced a charity show at the intimate HMV Forum in North London on wait for it, 4th July. Tickets went in 90 seconds although in fact no tickets were ever sent out. Get to the venue with photo id and the credit card used for your booking, and in you go. No id, no admission. All the £50 a head ticket money went to the excellent Help for Heroes charity www.helpforheroes.org.uk/ .
Fans were paying nine times the face value to get their hands on these little beauties on the black market, although it was only a couple of years since they last came to these shores. Plainly the prospect of such a small show was just too much of a temptation for the Kiss Army. The joy of living in London means we are lucky and often get these cosy club type shows and this followed hot on the heels of Night Ranger and Megadeth.
Doors opened half an hour late at 7.30pm and the queue was almost wrapped around the Forum by this time. All manner of creatures were on display - some spent hours on copying the make up of their idols, some obviously attempted it with the assistance of very strong lager. It was reassuring to see that at least one of the KISS Army managed to get their Paul Stanley star on the wrong eye (some things never change). Kiss fans are a truly special breed; one chap in the queue said he was getting married in the Kiss Chapel in Las Vegas next year - if only he knew what he was getting himself into! HARDCORE this lot, and some travelled from across Europe for this one. An hour later and we were all settled inside for what turned out to be a special special night.
Down came the KISS curtain to reveal an enormous stage set crammed onto the tiny Forum stage. Banks upon banks of speakers, with Singer's drum riser placed up high in the centre below the iconic KISS logo in lights; it looked superb. Detriot Rock City opened things up in glorious fashion, with enough pyrotechnics for an olympic opening ceremony. The place went nuts, with Simmons, Stanley and co strutting their stuff in full costume and make up, and loving it.
Huge spotlights picked them out in the fog, and Stanley proceeded to remind us all that we are here and free to enjoy rock 'n' roll because of our armed forces, many of whom where in attendance tonight, and did a meet and greet with the band prior to the show. The splendid new single Hell or Hallelujah was next up, slipping seamlessly into the set as if it had been around for years. Its classic old Kiss, straight down rock & roll with a bubblegum chorus and the new album Monster promises to live up to it's name if this is anything to go by.
The evening was a staple set of Kiss klassics although Makin' Love was a pleasant addition to the romper stompers of Deuce, Shout it out Loud, and Calling Dr Love to name but a few. The band seemed fresh; not suprising really as this was only their second show in almost three months. Paul Stanley's voice was excellent all night; he was finger-lickin' good, posing for every camera lens he could get close to, and feeding guitar pics to the front row from his tongue like he'd found a new game. Gene strutted around like the mad demon he is, spitting out his bass licks and vocal duties with relish throughout the evening, and Singer & Thayer are now full on bona fide members. No hired hands these days. Thayer's guitar work and solos was spot on all evening, and the jam with Eric gave the two elder statesmen a breather without it being obvious fill-in-time.
How the Forum never burnt to the ground I will never know - the amount of flammable stuff flying around was just non stop, and by mid set it was almost impossible to breathe, let alone to see across the theatre. But don't let this detract from the music. These guys seem like they are still hungry and they are still some of the best showmen in the business. Stanley likened the show to playing London years ago. "It reminds me of playing the Hammersmith Odeon, no big production, just straight rock n roll" he sounded genuinely happy to be in a theatre for a change.
Just over an hour later and an epic Black Diamond closed the set. Back came Kiss for Crazy Crazy Nights, Lick it Up, and Rock n Roll all Nite, complete with four massive confetti cannons that left the stalls and balcony knee deep in tic a tape. And that was that.
You had the sense you had witnessed something very very special. Kiss playing a little club is pretty unheard of these days. Kiss bringing the house down, well you'd half expect that, but to still be this good at feeding the masses after all this time, well, that's why they're the hottest band in the world . . . . . .
|The rare event T-Shirt specially produced for the London show and just £25|
Detroit Rock City
Hell or Hallelujah (live debut)
Shout it out Loud
I Love it Loud
Shock me (+ Thayer / Martin jam)
Calling Dr Love
Crazy Crazy Nights
Lick it Up
Rock and Roll all Nite
CLICK HERE for our review of Van Halen from Toronto with Diamond Dave, March 2012