Live review and pictures by Marko Syrjälä
A large proportion of about 100 000 F1 Grand Prix fans stayed to see American rock legends in full costumes in action. It was hard to pinpoint exact numbers, but later it announced that more than 10 000 people upgraded their standard F1 tickets for “KISS pole position” passes, giving closer access to the stage. The Melbourne show was the first stop on the band’s 35th anniversary ALIVE 35 -world tour, and it was an excellent place to start. Australians have always been big KISS fans, and the band still has a considerable following there. What also made this show very special is that this was the band’s first outdoor concert in Australia since 1980.
The show started at about 7:20 PM. A Huge black curtain with a massive KISS logo covered the stage, and after the classic “All right Melbourne…” intro, the band came on stage. Paul Stanly started to play the famous opening riff of “Deuce.” Soon the curtain dropped, and tons of explosives blew up. The stage was full of white smoke while the whole band headed into the song. The sound was excellent, and from the start, the band seemed to have great energy on stage. At the end of the song, the band did their usual ‘moves’ before they jumped on to the next song, “Shout it out Loud.” The party was about to begin!
Many fans have been worried about Paul Stanley’s KISS motivations after he’s lately been more in headlines because of his painting art and solo activities. However, after seeing tonight’s performance, Paul proved for everybody that he is still one of the greatest frontmen in the business. His voice was still in top shape, and physically he’s still capable of moving around the stage more than most of us in half of his age. Consummate showman Stanley made a rare stumble, forgetting which album “Let Me Go, Rock ’n Roll” originally came from. First, he stated that it was from the first album, and the next guess was DRESSED TO KILL, while the correct answer would have been HOTTER THAN HELL. It was also interesting that Paul himself addressed that this was the band’s third visit to Australia after their alleged “farewell” tour in 2001. “We’ll be there until you say ‘no more.’ We’ll keep going as long as you want us”. There are strong rumors about this tour being the band’s last tour ever. Perhaps Paul’s statement means that there will be some more life left in the KISS camp after this tour is over? Only time will tell.
If people have recently been worried about Paul’s motivations for KISS, they for sure have been worried about Gene Simmon’s motivations for more than twenty years. There’s always a lot of going in Gene’s world; movies, books’ TV –series, clothing lines. There are all kinds of business going on all the time, and at times, it has seemed that KISS has not been too high on his priority list. Fortunately, there was no sight of an uninspired ‘Demon’ in Melbourne. Gene acted all his classic tricks here. At the end of “Firehouse,” he breathed fire. Prior “God of Thunder,” he spitted blood during his demonic ‘bass solo,’ and then he did ‘fly’ on the stand, which was on the high stage. This time there were no technical problems, and everything went on very well. All in all, ‘the Demon’ seemed to be in really good spirits, and he enjoyed being on stage.
It must not be easy to stand in Tommy Thayer’s shoes. Although the guy is doing his very best, he’s still getting a lot of negative feedback from the fans for no real reason. For sure, it’s not his choice to wear ‘Spaceman’ makeup and copy his predecessor’s playing note to note without having a chance to do something of his own. This is KISS in 2008, and that’s just something that KISS fans should learn to accept. In fact, his playing is much better than the original ‘Spaceman.’ The guitar solo parts of ‘100 000 Years’ were phenomenal. This show also exceptional because now Thayer did his singing debut with KISS with ‘Shock Me.’ Although he did such a good job there, maybe it wasn’t the best possible choice to do Ace Frehley’ssignature song’ in front of such a fanatic KISS audience? Despite all, it can be said that 95% of the audience were happy to hear that song, and to be honest, it seemed most of them didn’t even recognize who was standing behind the microphone stand here.
It’s funny that although Eric Singer is wearing a ‘Catman’ costume, he’s more accepted than Tommy. Probably it’s because Eric has a long history of working with KISS. In 1991, he recorded several albums, including the classic REVENGE in 1992, with KISS before the reunion started in 1996. Original drummer Peter Criss then replaced him. Eric temporarily replaced Peter at the end of the ‘Farewell’ tour in 2001. Peter came back for the ALIVE IV –tour, but since 2004, Eric has been the KISS drummer. Certainly, there are still some fans who still miss the original ‘Catman,’ but there’s no denying that Eric is one of the best drummers around, and it can also be said that he adds some ‘extra kick’ on old classics. It was also great to hear him doing lead vocals on ‘Black Diamond.’
The show included all the elements that people expected to see and hear at a KISS concert. There were tons of pyro, bombs, fireworks, blood spitting, fire breathing, men were flying, and the band played some of their best-known songs. The setlist was heavily emphasized towards the ’70s, but fortunately, the band also made a few 80’s tracks, including “I Love It Loud” from the 1982 album CREATURES OF THE NIGHT and crowd-pleaser “Lick It Up,” which was the only track played from the band’s non-makeup era. It’s somehow strange that, when the band is now doing their 35th-anniversary tour, they hardly play any material from their ‘unmasked’ period? After all, that era lasted over 13 years, and during that time, the band released seven studio albums, including many classic songs. It’s also evident that the band is ‘stuck’ on some material from the ’70s. Some songs would be easy to replace with other songs from that era. Some more variations on the setlist would make it more interesting. It’s been said that the band will play the whole ALIVE album in Europe, that would be great, but hopefully, the band remembers their 80’s fans as well? Indeed KISS is still performing much the same concert as what they’ve done since the reunion in 1996. There are new substitute members and a few extra pounds, but they’re still capable of creating an atmosphere of great and fun rock ’n roll!
2. Shout It Out Loud
3. C’mon and Love Me
4. Lick It Up
5. I Love It Loud
6. Calling Dr. Love
7. Shock Me
8. Let Me Go Rock n Roll
10. 100,000 Years
11. God Of Thunder
12. Black Diamond
13. Love Gun
14. Detroit Rock City
16. I Was Made For Lovin’ You
17. Rock n Roll All Nite
MORE PICTURES FROM MELBOURNE SHOW !!!