Polyphia have announced their first Australian headline tour. The band will play Brisbane, Sydney and …
Multi-generational family groups queue to pose in front of the KISS ‘photo op’ wall outside the venue, which is located beside the main entrance near some impressive fireballs.
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As soon as we enter Rod Laver Arena and clock the sea of black T-shirts with occasional KISS-costumed, face-painted individuals standing out in the crowd, we immediately feel a sense of community that’s been missing from our lives since the Australian leg of KISS’ End Of The Road Tour–originally scheduled to take place in 2019–was first announced. Those who have dressed up in full KISS regalia parade around the foyer, willingly posing for photos as requested, and there’s a sense that many people who haven’t been ‘proper’ out for quite some time made an exception to see these American shock-rock/glam-metal trailblazers with a penchant for pyros, face paint and face-melting guitar solos.
The giant KISS inflatables that bookend the stage–two band members on each side–suddenly illuminate as the house lights dim. Footage of KISS making their way from the bowels of Rod Laver Arena to the stage graces the giant screens, stoking our excitement as a roar goes up in the crowd. It’s finally happening! “Alright, Melbourne! You wanted the best! You’ve got the best! The hottest band in the world! KISS!”–familiar with their intro spiel, which hypes us up even further, the audience enthusiastically joins in. Then the KISS curtain drops to reveal the band. While Eric Singer bashes the skins from his drum riser, Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley and Tommy Thayer appear raised up high on a separate platforms suspended from the ceiling. While elevated, we score an excellent view of these KISS band members’ skyscraper-high platform boots–how do they strut around in those things!? Sparks rain down on Simmons, Stanley and Thayer as they are slowly lowered to stage level.
During opening number Detroit Rock City, they certainly don’t skimp on the flamethrowers and pyros as KISS point to individual fans, giving ‘em a thrill. The old exaggerated hand-behind-the-ear to prompt louder crowd responses is another regular tactic used by KISS.
“MAN! We have been waiting YEARS to come back and see you,” Stanley acknowledges. “So tonight is gonna be special.” He promises we’ll hear “the old stuff and the older stuff” and then reminds us KISS first performed in Melbourne back in 1980, later revealing tonight is the band’s 20th show in this city. A good old-fashioned ‘which section of the audience hollers the loudest?’ follows, with Stanley christening the GA section “wild animals”.
Singer’s drum riser is bookended by supersized wildcats that look ready to pounce, green lights shining from their eyes. Later in the show when Singer performs Beth solo on piano, we notice he sports a sparkly necklace resplendent with giant Elvis-inspired pendant (TCB–his Taking Care Of Business logo–plus lightning bolt).
There’s a flaming sword display from Simmons during War Machine and those flamethrowers sure do emit a lotta heat! A dude in the crowd holding up a decorative sign requesting Heaven’s On Fire flashes up on the giant screens while KISS play this scorching song from their makeup-free, unmasked era.
“This one you all can sing, it’s real simple,” Stanley coaxes. “All ya gotta sing is, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah’. The song’s called Say Yeah. The simplicity of KISS’ lyrics, and the fact that you can pick them up on the fly, really is awesome (see: Lick It Up’s chorus, which is just the song’s title repeated twice followed by, “Oh-oh-oh”).
Stanley’s banter is hilarious and his muscular arms are testament to the fitness benefits of a lifetime spent ripping out riffs and licks. And KISS rarely just play guitar, instead preferring to play their instruments behind their heads or raised skyward when not performing unison guitarography.
“Melbourne! We bow to you,” Stanley concludes as we collectively scrape our jaws off the ground.
We don’t know many septuagenarians who can (literally) rock blinged-out black Lyra. What’s their secret? Hyperbaric oxygen therapy or something?
Since there’s been a lotta sickness and fever about over the last coupla years, Stanley recommends, “I think we should call out the doctor!” Calling Dr. Love, featuring Simmons on lead vocals, follows. A vintage KISS video collage–we spy an AFL football, so reckon it’s probably footage collated from previous Australian tours–plays out on the screens during Do You Love Me.
Playing his axe-shaped axe, Simmons’ rumbling, blood-spitting bass solo remains terrifying to this day and we’ll never get over that ginormous tongue! The Demon makeup really makes his exaggerated eye movements–leering side to side, eyes rolling back in his head–pop.
Stanley throws a bit of a tanti when a spotlight struggles to find him: “Good people! Good people! I guess we’ve got some new people doing the lights. I guess they won’t be here tomorrow night.” Then he zip-lines effortlessly over the GA section to perform on a platform near the sound desk, much to the delight of those in the cheap seats. I Was Made For Lovin’ You is a set highlight as Stanley busts out some sexy, hip-swivelling moves. After flying back over the audience to return to the stage, Stanley’s dismount is flawless. Sure, a stagehand is on hand to guide him, but we wouldn’t wanna attempt this stunt while wearing those 12-inch-high platform boots!
“You people never let us down, so this song is yours–it belongs totally to you people,” is how Stanley intros Shandi, which went Top 5 Down Under in 1980, and multicoloured KISS-branded balloons are released into the arena during this soft-rock number.
Closing banger Rock And Roll All Nite gets the entire crowd up on their feet, singing and clapping along with gusto, as Simmons and Thayer rise up on hydraulic platforms either side of the stage. Streamer cannons, flamethrowers and pyros–they smell like farts, which is something we’d totally forgotten!–complete the scene.
“Melbourne! We bow to you,” Stanley concludes as we collectively scrape our jaws off the ground. Their End Of The Road tour is billed as KISS’ “final tour ever”. You don’t wanna miss out on this important milestone in KISS-tory, with the band reminding us this evening that their live show is just as awesome as it’s ever been and well worth the wait. KISS, we bow to you.
KISS END OF THE ROAD TOUR:
Saturday August 20 // ROD LAVER ARENA // Melbourne w/ Dead City Ruins (SOLD OUT)
Sunday August 21 // ROD LAVER ARENA // Melbourne w/ Rival Fire (SOLD OUT)
Tuesday August 23 // ROD LAVER ARENA // Melbourne w/ Dallas Crane
Friday August 26 // QUDOS BANK ARENA // Sydney w/ The Poor
Saturday August 27 // QUDOS BANK ARENA // Sydney w/ Battle Snake
Tuesday August 30 // ADELAIDE ENTERTAINMENT CENTRE // Adelaide w/ The Superjesus
Friday September 2 // RAC ARENA // Perth w/ Legs Electric
Tuesday September 6 // BRISBANE ENTERTAINMENT CENTRE // Brisbane w/ Wolfmother
Saturday September 10 // CBUS SUPER STADIUM // Gold Coast w/ Wolfmother & Tumbleweed