ANAHEIM, Calif. On the fifth date of Kiss' farewell tour Saturday night at Arrowhead Pond, singer/guitarist Paul Stanley reminded fans again and again that this is really it.
But even as he bid his goodbyes and encouraged fans to do the same, Stanley said the '70s glam-metal band's Farewell Tour might make one more swing through the Los Angeles area before it comes to a screeching halt.
"Tonight is your night to say farewell," Stanley said early in the two-hour performance. "I know saying goodbye is hard, but we're going to make tonight a night to remember, people."
Still, Saturday's show saw Kiss sticking to business as usual, as they delivered a typically over-the-top performance complete with elaborate lighting, sirens, fireworks and flash-pots.
Decked out in their trademark Kabuki-style makeup, black leotards and platform shoes, each bandmember took his moment to shine. Stanley hyped the crowd between songs with his shrill falsetto. Bassist Gene Simmons gurgled blood, breathed fire and flashed his tongue. Ace "Space-Ace" Frehley provided his turbo riffs as fire shot from his guitar. Peter "the Catman" Criss took a break from the drums to sing his ballad "Beth" alone onstage.
The show began with all four members standing on a platform high above the stage, as exploding flash-pots declared their presence. The platform lowered to the stage, and the members took their positions, with Criss climbing stairs to reach his elevated drum set. The group launched into the opening number, "Detroit Rock City," while fans many of whom were clad in their own Kiss costumes pumped their fists and shouted along.
In The Name Of Rock 'N' Roll
Kiss' fancy stage accessories failed them at one point, when a lift intended to fly Stanley over the crowd got stuck, suspending him awkwardly in the air during nearly half of "Love Gun" (RealAudio excerpt). While Stanley struggled to get down, Simmons took the lead vocal as the band plowed on through the tune.
Finally, Stanley was lowered back to the stage. Directing the band to stop the song, he told the crowd, "What a bummer. Well, you know something, make believe I'm out there. I did everything I could." Kiss then launched back into "Love Gun," with Stanley this time on the mic.
"Sometimes you get in your car to go to work, and your car doesn't start," Stanley said later, apparently still feeling bad about the incident. "Sometimes when you fly, you can't land. But you people understand it's all in the name of rock 'n' roll."
Despite the mishap, Kiss welcomed spontaneity at various moments. During "Let Me Go Rock and Roll," Stanley and Simmons each picked up women's undergarments that had landed onstage and hung them from the necks of their guitars. They kept the accessories through the next tune, the Rolling Stones' "2,000 Man," with Stanley periodically sticking his pink bra in his mouth. "Hang on, I'm curious," the singer said as he reached for the garment's label. "34C."
Fans Prove Critics Wrong
A feeling of nostalgia came during "Do You Love Me," when the massive center-stage screen showed old concert and interview footage from throughout Kiss' career.
"This song asks a very personal question," Stanley said. "And I want a very personal answer." The retrospective ended with the message "We love you" shown in huge black letters.
Kiss who formed in 1973 and departed from their original lineup seven years later reunited in 1996 to stage their hugely successful Reunion Tour. Two years later, they released their first studio album in nearly 20 years, Psycho Circus, and followed with another top-selling tour.
One distinguishing factor between the current tour and Kiss' two previous outings is the inclusion of songs from their non-makeup period, after the original lineup changed. Saturday's show brought "Heaven's on Fire" and "Lick It Up" from that era, both of which saw the band displaying a four-on-the-floor togetherness.
"When we got back together in 1996 and got ready to do our Reunion Tour, the promoter said it would never work," Stanley said. "But you proved them wrong. When we decided to do a new album, the critics said it would never work. But you showed them they were wrong."
Kiss brought the show to a festive close with "Rock and Roll All Nite" (RealAudio excerpt), during which the crowd was showered with confetti.
"I don't think this will be it," said 37-year-old fan Joseph Scott, who wore a Frehley mask and vest. "We'll see them in a few years. It's all about the green stuff, baby."
The concert began with opening sets by '80s metal band Skid Row and eccentric hard-rocker Ted Nugent. With a fur tail clipped to his black jeans, Nugent at separate times sported an American Indian headdress and cowboy hat as he delivered such staples as "Cat Scratch Fever" and "Kiss My Ass" and displayed his usual cocksure attitude. "We're celebrating the boys tonight," he said. "But what about Ted f---ing Nugent?"