REVIEW: KISS @ Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne, August 21st, 2022
Say what you will about the blood spitting and fire breathing rockers, KISS are determined to make sure Melbourne gets their show.
After personal sickness and the occasional lockdown, founding members Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley, alongside Tommy Thayer and drummer Eric Singer are back in Melbourne with the much anticipated End of the Road World Tour.
“We are so excited and relieved to finally be touring in Australia,” said Thayer, speaking with Wall Of Sound. “We’re really excited… It’s something we’re looking forward to, finally.”
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Originally planned for November of 2019, last night KISS donned the make-up at Rod Laver Arena for the twenty-first time and the second last time…
With that in mind, the gig last night was a celebration. And although nostalgia and reflection was a powerfully utilised motif, KISS proved that they were as relevant and culturally significant as ever.
Even if you were unaware of the band, the showmanship and antics of the members put their influence beside Bowie and Queen. The reach of that influence was evident long before entering Rod Laver. People of all ages graced large wigs, shiny silver clothes and of course: the make up.
Leading into the arena, fans were met by large bursts of flames (In hindsight, only the smallest teaser of what was to come). Set up by the stage were enormous inflatable statues of the members that loomed over the fans that were pushing their way to the front of the barricade to get as close as they could to the action.
The stage itself was hidden behind a large black curtain, ensuring nobody got a sneak peak at their explosive entrance. And explosive is the precise word to use. Projected onto a screen we zoom into the Earth and into Rod Laver Arena, revealing KISS preparing to emerge. But as soon as the curtain drops and the lights rise, the band is revealed to not be on the stage, but by the roof, being lowered on platforms. Around them are countless pyrotechnics, fire and fireworks causing havoc in the background. The bold entrance launches the crowd straight into the action and reminds them what they are here to do: rock n roll all nite.
Check out ‘Detroit Rock City’
“You want the best? You got the best”.
Regardless of your age or music preference, KISS’ Rod Laver performance was first and foremost a spectacle that was determined to have all of your senses working at 300%. The spotlights and lasers circled the audience and the heat from the bursts of flames soon followed.
After everyone was hyped up, Stanley addressed the elephant in the room. “Nope, we can’t go!” he yells, referring to the cancelled shows. “It was such a bummer… But tonight Melbourne we are here to celebrate and kick some ass! You people are awesome and we love you so much!”
Another clever addition was the use of old gig footage that was played in harmony with the actual show. The seamless amalgamation highlights the truly epic feat of Simmons and Stanley, remaining in the spotlight for all these years. The imagery is at its most impactful when the band imitates the actions of their former selves, embracing their long history, while somehow remaining ageless.
Check out ‘Deuce’
Part of the epic saga of KISS is its vital part in the rise of the infamous Parental Advisory label. A label that went on to become a parody in music culture and a mockery of reasonable censorship. Among them were the likes of Twisted Sister, Alice Cooper, Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin.
The main criticism that these rational parents had was that their songs were tools for converting the youth to satanism (obviously).
‘War Machine’ in this case, beautifully encapsulates all of Ma and Pa’s concerns. Surrounded by imagery of the ‘KISS Army’ shooting dragons and fighting their way through a fiery and red landscape, the band drags us all down to Hell.
Check out ‘War Machine’
The proceeding few songs were all about collaboration. “This is our 21st time in Melbourne,” says Stanley. “So I know what to expect from y’all.” The assignment was clear. This was not a show, it was a party and everyone had to sing. But that’s not a hard task when thousands of mega fans know the call and response of ‘Love It Out Loud’ and ‘Say Yeah’ before they even introduce it. However, most seemed hesitant to imitate Simmons’ regular deep throating of the microphone.
Check out ‘Say Yeah’
The plethora of hit songs continued and now cut together with phenomenal solos from Simmons, Thayer and Singer. It was a necessary contrast from the scale of the other numbers, allowing the audience to see musicians who have truly mastered their craft.
That being said, the theatrics of Simmons’ bass solo is one of the highlights of the show. As green light engulfs him, he takes on the persona of someone possessed. His head flicks around the room and his eyes roll into the back of his head as he begins his iconic blood spitting. Simmons screams and screams as the blood hurls down his costume.
Though it may read as horrific. The iconic routine has made its gruesomeness secondary to its epic celebration of edgy rock and defying the status quo.
Check out Simmons’ blood spitting
In the final stretch of the evening, KISS makes it clear they will not leave with a whimper. Launching into ‘Love Gun’, Stanley mounts a harness and glides across the audience with a glistening gold guitar. Landing on a platform at the other side of Rod Laver, he proceeds to play the next two numbers amongst the action.
With everyone’s favourite ‘I Was Made For Lovin’ You’ being sung from every direction, Stanley returns to the band to send off the evening with the expected flames and explosions. But the most mild of fans would know that if The End Of The Road tour is about celebrating the history of KISS, there are a few tracks that seem to have been left off…
Check Out ‘Beth’
Singer emerges from the dark with a sparkling piano to show the audience he is far more than just a drummer. ‘Beth’ was the band’s first Top 10 single in the United States Billboard Hot 100 at the time of release and proof that KISS is not just loud and boisterous. Singer stands alone in a spotlight and sings the undisputed masterpiece free of the extravagance that generally accompanies them.
Naturally, they end the evening on ‘Rock and Roll All Nite’. Whatever pyrotechnics they still had available, they used. Dozens of balloons appeared from the roof and I can write with complete confidence, I have never seen more confetti in my entire life.
In a final act, Stanley embraces the immense use of fire and with every strike of his guitar cues another burst of flames. The band board the platforms they descended in and with one more large round of flames, fireworks and sparks we return to blackness and the curtain returns. KISS have hit the end of the road.
Check Out ‘Rock N Roll All Nite’
One could argue that the constant theatrics takes away from the genuine talent that is so clearly on display. However, those exact theatrics are as equally part of the DNA of KISS as the music itself. With the End Of The Road World Tour, the band made a point that it was proud of the spectacle they’ve become so known for. If this is truly the end of the road, they’ve made sure they’re leaving the same way they came in: loud, in your face, and showing their tongues.
That aside, Behind the attitude and glamour is four musicians who despite their age, love to rock. The joy and fun that they are clearly having on the stage every night feels authentic, exciting and is infectious to everyone watching.
KISS’ Australian tour has only just begun and there is still another Melbourne show on Tuesday, 23rd of August, before it heads to Sydney, Adelaide, Perth and finally Queensland.
Be sure to check out our library of photos from the 20/08/22!
KISS @ Rod Laver Area, Melbourne, Australia 21/08/22 Setlist
‘Detroit Rock City’
‘Shout It Out Loud’
‘Heaven’s On Fire’
‘I Love It Out Loud’
‘Calling Dr. Love’
‘God Of Thunder’
‘I Was Made For Lovin’ You’
‘Rock and Roll All Nite’
End Of The Road World Tour – Australia
Tuesday, August 23rd
Rod Laver Area, Melbourne, Vic
Friday, August 26th
Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney, NSW
Saturday, August 27th
Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney, NSW
Tuesday, August 30th,
Adelaide Entertainment Centre, SA
Friday, September 2nd
RAC Arena, Perth, WA
Tuesday, September 6th
Brisbane Entertainment Centre, QLD
Saturday, September 10th,
CBUS Super Stadium, Robina, QLD