4th July 2012
It’s not everyday that one of most worshipped and all time greatest American rock and roll bands head to the UK shores to perform. On 99% of said days, the seats of Wembley stadium, fields of Knebworth or 107,000 gatherers at Donnigton beckon for the loyal fans who would donate their left kidney for a comfortable position down stage front. Today was not one of those days as this very special charity show in aid of Help The Heroes was set to shake London Town to it’s foundations. Only 2,300 lucky (golden) ticket holders stood patiently on Kentish Town High Street as the overcast clouds threatened to empty their loads. Thankfully they had read the script and restrained, good job as the hundreds of painted faces (quickly skipping the lycra wearers) would have not have stood up well to a typical British summer shower.
KISS tees totally enveloped and circled the block and stretched back down towards the tube in the most epic (and organised…because were British queue this side of the Vatican To their credit once the flood gates opened and the HMV Forum doors flew wide it was a pretty swift journey to get in and take up position. A spot where I’d wait for another hour staring at the stage concealing curtain, yet somehow once here it didn’t seem to matter. With classic rock on the jukebox the sing-a-long atmosphere was already rife long before KISS finally made their eagerly awaited entrance.
And boy was it an entrance ! Fireworks (Indoors!!!) exploding from all angles, flames licking at their backs and those iconic costumes striking poses famous the world over. They are slightly early for Guy Faulkes night but I guess American Independence Day is also worth a few thousand pound worth of pyrotechnics. Despite downsizing from humongous stadium stages to the relatively speaking tiny Forum Stage, they somehow squashed in their full stadium set up with massively raised drum kit and soloing podiums, packed with more whizz bang trickery than a new years firework finale. Built from scratch they were elevated way higher than your usual headlining band, giving everyone a corking view (plus their stage’s in-built air conditioning fans had to go somewhere didn’t they?).
Although getting up and close with those costumes is not a sight for sore eyes. I was tallying up who had the worst deal and there was no clear winner. Demon Gene Simmons’s oversized outfit was a straight no, and Tommy’s Thayer lycra was too much, Eric Singers Cat whiskers were OK if you forget his leather collar and Paul Stanley’s bare mid rift had seen better days.
Yet there was one king of this band tonight and that was the Star Child Paul Stanley, whose voice hasn’t aged a day with a tremendous range which drove the outstanding chorus’s of the night. His stage presence was phenomenal and guitar work wasn’t half bad either. At every opportunity he was stoking the crowd and the KISS faithful with traditional salutes and phrases (I was non the wiser) which provoked huge cheers and retorts from the ecstatic fans.
With such a vast catalogue of hit singles it was a true greatest hits show tonight with only a single new tune Hell or Hallelujah from new LP Monster which was a modern KISS classic. From opener Detroit Rock City to closer Rock And Roll All Night via Deuce, Shout It Out Loud, Shock Me, Calling Dr. Love, Crazy Crazy Nights and Lick It Up the classic rock truly never stopped. Neither did the spectacular stage antics; Gene Fire Breathing, firework’s shooting out of guitar head stocks, entire drum kits lifted 15ft in the air, catherine wheels, bazooka launching fireworks and even more flames were simply showmanship at it’s best.
But then what else were you to expect from a band whose been doing this for 38 years and can still sell out stadiums worldwide, let alone small London venues. An absolutely stunning evening of all round great entertainment the KISS titans showed the rest of the world how to rock and roll all night! All in the name of Charity too!
Put simply the best Gig Ever!!!