First up tonight was The Dives, a New York band that includes Paul Stanley’s son. Knowing that, I didn’t have very high expectations, assuming cynically that they only got the slot due to the family connections, but in fact while the family connection almost certainly helped, the fact is that the Dives are very good, and looked completely at home on the large stage. They seemed to go down well with the crowd too although as usual some fans stayed in the bars outside and gave the support act a miss. I’d certainly be happy to see them play again. A good start to the night.
When it comes to putting on a spectacular show, KISS have to be one of the best. They’ve got decades of experience and it shows in how they perform onstage, how they interact with the audience, and knowing what visuals to use for the biggest impact.
We get big screens either side of the stage (fairly standard these days) plus lots of screens on stage, behind the stage and above the stage and crowd. Throw in some staples of a KISS show such as the guitar that fires a shower of sparks, Gene Simmons breathing fire or having blood pour from his mouth before he flies on wires up into the lighting rig where he plays on a tiny stage, Paul Stanley flying on a wire over the crowd to play on a stage in the middle of the arena, plus some flames, confetti cannons and a great lighting setup and the result is an incredible show.
Of course a show can’t rely on the visuals and gimmicks alone – a band has to sound good and have the right songs. There’s no doubt that KISS have a back catalogue full of songs the fans love, and which are perfect for a party – “crazy crazy nights” and “rock and roll all nite” being just two examples. The band sound in good form too, so you’ve got everything you need for a fun night out. With KISS people can argue about the setlist for hours – a lot of the songs are in the set on every tour, but equally people would feel disappointed if they weren’t included. A surprise was the lack of anything from the “Monster” album, but it was good to hear “Flaming youth” played which I haven’t heard them do before.
After the terrorist attack in Manchester which killed 22 and led to the Manchester date of the KISS tour being cancelled, it was nice to see the band pause proceedings a couple of songs into the set to get the crowd to be silent for a minute before they got back on with the show. While it’s important to remember what happened, it’s also important that people don’t let fear rule them and stop them coming out to gigs and enjoying life, and a KISS show is a pretty good way to enjoy life. Everywhere I looked people were having a good time, and a lot of people had dressed up or painted their faces for tonight.
A fantastic night – KISS have been entertaining fans for a long time, and it shows – they make putting on a truly entertaining massive show look easy.