April 4, 2001
Kiss: Melbourne Rod Laver Arena
Time to kiss Kiss goodbye, as their farewell tour hits Australia...
And so it's curtains for the world's most ludicrous rock'n'roll band. Curtains of fire, that is, with ticker tape billowing, chicken blood spraying, 50-year-old men in kabuki paint hauling tin-clad arses through the air on steel cables and spools of fireworks rotating on a levitating drum platform.
As it was in the beginning (um, 1973), Kiss's farewell tour of Australia is more circus than music, more spectacle than substance, more money than sense. At two-and-half-hours, it misjudges its audience's tolerance for the idiotic chorus but hits the bullseye in terms of sheer firepower.
Surprises are few. Any fan worth their Kiss Army membership knows 'Firehouse' is Gene Simmons' cue to spit fire from a flaming sword; that Ace Frehley's solo guitar spot culminates in the lighting truss exploding under rocket attack from his own instrument. Nor is it astonishing when 'Rock'n'Roll All Nite' culminates in a dazzling combination of hydraulic platforms, outrageous pyrotechnics and lycra-packed elbow grease as star babe Paul Stanley sacrifices his daily guitar in time to the thunderous power chord finale.
The impossibly svelte singer yodels his love for us so often and fervently that a restraining order is well in order by the time 'Love Gun' sends him flying (truly) from the multi-tiered main stage to the back of the packed-solid 10,000-seat arena. Phew, etc.
Musically, of course, this gig has been up for 20 years. Even for '70s teen anthems, the lyrics of 'Shout It Out Loud' and 'Do You Love Me' can only be described as frightfully poor. But you don't need to be 13 to taste pure, distilled testosterone in the metallic riffs of 'God of Thunder' and 'Cold Gin', or to hear the extra clout of drum sticks which have been set on fire half way through Eric Singer's 10-minute solo.
When all is licked up and blown up, it's a curiously unmoving goodbye, but far from unmemorable. It may be some time before another band offers tinnitus and retina damage in the one handy package.
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