|Kiss - London, HMV Forum - 4th July 2012|
|Written by Matt Phelps|
|Saturday, 14 July 2012 04:00|
Being something of a replacement gig for their cancelled Sonisphere headline slot, and also a fund raising drive for the injured UK troops charity Help for Heroes, Kiss stormed into London's HMV Forum on the fourth of July amidst a blitz of promotion for their forthcoming new album 'Monster', their best single in twenty years and some outlandishly big book that costs more than most people spend on a family holiday. And although I hadn't seen Kiss live since 1992, disillusioned by endless "best of" compilations, farewell tours and imitation spacemen something drew me to the Forum and I felt I just needed to be at this show. I will admit to not having, if you'll excuse the pun, "great expectations" when I entered the venue. I was prepared to be disappointed by childhood heroes that had become more toupee tape and make up than actual flesh and spitting blood but by the end of the night, well end of the first song actually, I was prepared to admit that I may have been a little too harsh. Kiss, although a completely different kind of monster these days were most definitely... Still on fire.
Having a capacity of about two and a half thousand this was something of a "club" show for Kiss and something really special for those attending who'd managed to snatch hold of the golden tickets in the fleeting moments that they were actually on sale. As the amplifiers started to hum and the Forum floor shook with the vibrations of oncoming thunder the silver and black Kiss kurtain billowing across the stage front was torn away as the barrage of united Army voices beckoned "...THE HOTTEST BAND IN THE WORLD.....KISS!" 'Detroit Rock City' turned on the heat instantly, Paul Stanley side stepping around the mic, pointing and pouting like a trooper resplendent with black feather shoulder pads looking like he'd just danced his way straight out of Frank-N-Furter's closet. With flame bursts accompanying each and every "Get Up" and "Get Down" the temperature was soaring and sweat was pouring long before the climactic fiery finale. Rapture was abound at seeing heroes in such intimate surroundings and with the scent of spent charges still hanging in the air Kiss wasted no time in rolling out the new cannon in their arsenal, the majestic new single 'Hell Or Hallelujah'. Taken from the forthcoming new album, 'Monster', it went down a storm to more deafening cheers and a well proportioned sing-along for a song that was only released two days before.
The noise of the crowd was easily equatable to the roar coming from the stage and as 'Deuce' opened up another ecstatic sing-along the irony of "Get up and get your grandma outta here" being sung by one of the oldest men in the room flew straight over the heads of the assembled throng like an aerial gymnast. 'Shout It Out Loud' followed then it was time to delve a little deeper into the back catalogue with 'Makin' Love' makin' a well received outing from 'Rock And Roll Over'. 'Shock Me' with Tommy Thayer taking lead vocals still splits everyone down the middle just like Paul's audience participation rap. Some tunes are just so inextricably linked with Ace Frehley and Peter Criss that although the costumes and make up maybe being occupied by others these days the shadows of the original spaceman and cat still, and always will, loom large over the stage. Tommy did a cracking job however but it just doesn't feel right which makes it a curious inclusion when you consider some of the absolute gems like 'Creatures Of The Night' or 'I Stole Your Love' that they could have included instead. But I'm sure that half the time Kiss just choose to do stuff like this to wind up all the people who have nothing better to do in their lives than moan about it, it sure keeps their facebook page active. My final thought on the matter was that it could have been worse. At least 'Beth' was saved from another mauling by Eric's replica(t) klaws.
Barely a song went by without a flame burst or a spark shower coming from somewhere, Eric's bazooka, Tommy's guitar... Gene's mouth. Old tricks maybe but still crowd pleasing party pieces that are built to last. Paul likened the atmosphere inside the Forum to the old days of playing places like the Hammersmith Odeon and the songs from those bygone days speak volumes as to why Kiss have enjoyed such a long and successful career. The lecherous 'Calling Dr Love' played out by a Simmons drenched in red lights. The pounding '100,000 Years' one of my personal all time faves. The mighty rattling assault of 'Love Gun' and the show stopping crescendo of the glittering 'Black Diamond' which bookended the main set and saw the drum riser...um... rising, until Eric was just a little silhouetto of a cat before the massive lit up logo that was blinding the Kiss Army elite. All were lapped up by the hungry faithful.
'Crazy Nights' may come from an era that divides opinion but it united the Forum as the packed out crowd tried desperately to help Paul reach those high notes that playfully (and sometimes painfully) stayed just out of reach. I'm sure there may be at least one or two cynics reading this to see how bad Paul's voice was as he's come in for a lot of sniping over his latter years but I thought he was pretty damn good throughout the majority of the show. Yes in parts he could falter and be as flat as Gene's sex tape performance but he's fucking 60 now, remember that. Yet even at that age, he can still wrap up a full on 90 minute set when most of his critics can't even finish a sentence without fucking it up.
Some of them may not be the most technical players (see Simmons constant sliding up and down the bass neck like a black and white Sid Vicious) but it's that simplicity with which they attack the stage and command everything around them with ease that makes a Kiss show so accessible and enjoyable. It's a party after all not a fucking exam and no one throws a party like Kiss.....or closes one. 'Rock And Roll All Nite', was the parting shot and plume after plume of white confetti was jettisoned high up into the Forum falling like a blizzard onto everything and everyone beneath it. The onslaught was so intense it was impossible to sing along without inhaling a bit of paper of two so a little piece of Kisstory will remain forever in my lungs. Pyrotechnics filled every spare inch of the stage as the paper continued to fall, the finale alone being testament to Gene's claim that Kiss pack more firepower than most third world countries. As the last of the confetti settled on the forum floor there could be no denying that Kiss had truly reigned supreme. You can laugh at their age and their waning voices and scream that it's not real Kiss without Ace and Peter but Kisstwentytwelve still put on one of the best shows that you are ever likely to see and when captured in the relative confines of a place like the Forum Kiss really are still capable of rolling out the greatest show on earth.
Detroit Rock City
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