The lights go out and all that’s left is the glow of neon signs on either side of the stage with the caption “Kiss Army” (referring to Kiss fans, who are all over the world). When the screens light up we see the musicians leaving the dressing room, followed by a camera, heading towards the stage. They look like frightening giants, dressed in their glamorous costumes – where black and silver predominate – and their high-heeled boots. Immediately the black curtain that says Baiser falls. The first chords of “Detroit, Rock City” are heard. There are lights, there is smoke, there are many explosions, they are three octagonal platforms underlined in red neon which descend and deposit the two guitarists and the bass player on the surface of the stage. The show, like almost fifty years ago, starts again, but this time it will be for the last time. Paul Stanley turned 70 in January; and Gene Simmons – his friend and partner in this already half-century-old adventure – fulfilled them three years ago. Despite everything, they continue to go on every stage to drive each of their fans crazy, even if this tour is the last and the show last night was the last in Argentina.
From that moment, in the show designed for the farewell There will be nearly two dozen songs to come (with encores included) among which will be big hits such as “I was made to love you” and “Rock & Roll All Nite”. There will be absolutely fancy instrumental solos, there will be more rising and falling platforms. There will be fire, pyrotechnics and (prop) blood squirting out of Gene Simmons’ mouth. Because one could even say that this one, born at the beginning of the 70s and updated over the years, is the basis and the guide of the history of rock & roll recitals in the big stadiums. Somehow, Kiss encouraged the bombshell and the rock concert as outdoor mass entertainment. They never called it a concert, they always conceived of it as a show.
And so it will be at every stage of this tour (maybe some songs will change, maybe some effects in some cities won’t be there), like the recent gigs in Santiago de Chile, and like the one the band offered last night at the Campo Argentino de Polo in Buenos Aires, in front of a crowd that knew and chanted most of the songs. Yesterday 50,000 people saw it in person and 160,000 did so via the Flow screen. Each recital will be a farewell, because as the title of the tour unequivocally indicates (End Of the Road – The final tour ever), Kiss is definitely saying goodbye to the stage.
Thirty minutes after the scheduled time, the group, which also engages Eric Singer on drums and Tommy Thayer on guitar, took the stage with eighteen songs on the program and several encores. Although Kiss’ music has other nuances, rock and roll songs predominate in their live repertoire. They are the best weapons to open and close their performances and the segments are usually not divided by fast and slow songs and by electric and acoustic moments, but by some very brief comments from the singer or by those minutes in which the attention rests on each one of its protagonists. Certainly, with critical eyes and ears, no major difference can be seen between this show and the previous ones that the group gave in our country. But in the eyes of fans, each one ends up being unique. Kiss has the slight disadvantage of being an outdated band (for aesthetics and sound) and, at the same time, the advantage of being absolutely timeless.. That makes it classic. Not only because with such a career, it has become a brand in its own right, above any musical genre. It’s also because their masks hide those who are behind them. Of course, they don’t hide wrinkles. Of course, the movements of musicians are no longer as agile as they were thirty years ago. All this is true, as well as the fact that this is not a group of virtuoso instrumentalists. But what we saw on stage last night was not a bunch of old people who decided to take their winter quarters but simply Kiss, supported by their tubes and all their pyrotechnics, no matter where they are on the trip. So much so that under Thayer’s shiny space movie costume, many might have imagined for a moment that Ace Frehley (the band’s lead guitarist) was also there while wearing that same costume and mask. Something similar could have happened seeing the bright green eye outline of Singer’s face and dreaming that it could also have been Peter Criss (musician who participated in this quartet for the first decade and then returned at the end of the 20th century). Apart from the divismo of Gene Simmons and the charisma of Paul Stanley, the group transcends its members.
The show (understood as sophisticated entertainment) even sometimes over the songs, was the main protagonist for two hours. During all this time there have been no surprises for the eyes that have been resources of recent years, such as the search to generate immersive situations for the public with the dimension of the screens. Kiss will remain a classic true to itself, until its last day (which will come soon). And what you can guarantee is that even these old school effects remain effective. In Buenos Aires, “Detroit Rock City” was the soundtrack to a cataract of explosions. “Deuce” was one of the oldest songs, which brought early images of the band to those screens. “Cold Gin” was that song with a classic Kiss sound that served as a prelude for Tommy Thayer to turn his guitar into a bazooka that launched flying straws. Like a variety artist telling his own story in a two-hour show, Simmons fulfilled his role as a demon. From his mouth came blood, fire and his long tongue (which is as famous as the Rolling Stone logo). But it’s real.
With “Love Gun”, they recovered the choral effect of the quartet. With “Lick It Up” they traveled back to their 1980s production and with “Shout It Out Loud” they showed their skills for performing with lasers without looking like a soulful postcard from the past. Everything that was seen (or almost) had already been seen, but still, it still surprised. As well as the audience’s response. Because in front of the incessant “Olé Olé Olé” of the people, Paul Stanley thanked in every possible way but also asked his Kiss Army to be quiet so that he could continue to play.
There is a curious fact not to be missed during this party for the eyes and ears of the most fanatical. At the back of the stage was written the list of songs that the band planned to perform with some instructions for the technical staff. When Paul Stanley rode a zip line and flew up to the sound tower to sing two songs there, there was a very specific indication, written in English. “While Paul is flying, drones cannot be within 30.5 meters of him.” Beyond the fact that the detail alludes to security issues, this is the strongest evidence that Kiss has been one of the most professional entertainment bands that speaks the language of rock for half a century. Minutes after the singer returned to the main stage via that same suspended cable, Polo’s Campo Argentino was covered in a shower of scraps of paper and balloons, while Kiss said goodbye with “Rock & Roll All Nite”. Thus ended the greatest party invented by rock. One more show for their long tour, one less stage of this farewell tour (which they will never set foot again).