@ Islington o2 Academy, March 2 2010

Catching Paul and Gene in a club venue four decades after the band first set out to recruit the Kiss Army is a surreal experience.

Everything about the band for the past 30 years has been big. Big arenas, big anthems, big heels and big money. But here they were, back to their rock and roll roots and, quite emphatically, back to their best.

Paul Stanley’s fixation with the Appleton sisters (yes, of All Saints fame) proved there’s life in the old dog yet and Love Doctor was aimed almost entirely at his newest fans. They lapped it up.

And the most obvious blonde bombshells in a venue bursting with beautiful people, frenzied fans and The Mighty Boosh (!) weren’t alone. This was a spectacular show from a rock beast you would imagine had nothing left to prove. On this evidence they clearly do.

Opening up with Sonic Boom’s Modern Day Delilah might have been seen as a gamble by some but the majority of those present knew every word. Throwing in Say Yeah for good measure Kiss were keen to showcase their best album for 20-plus years and why not? It’s a quality record from a classy band.

Of course it does beg the question why wait so long to roll out an album of original material? Maybe it’s all about keeping the fans keen and those inside Islington’s Academy were certainly that.

A stunning rendition of Black Diamond was a real treat and before that Cold Gin sounded cracking – even after all of these years.

The decision to drown the audience in a fog of dry ice and a storm of shredded paper during a bristling rendition of Rock And Roll All Nite could have backfired – at times it was hard to breathe and impossible to see the band. But as an overall visual effect it was typically outrageous – betraying a band which ahs become used to the arena stage and the big production statements.

Encoring with Detroit Rock City was a delicious way to conclude an extremely tasty set and as far as whetting the appetite for this summer’s concerts it did the trick. Haven’t got your tickets yet? You’d be a fool to delay it any longer.

Setlist: Modern Day Delilah; Cold Gin; Let Me Go, Rock N Roll; Say Yeah; Doctor Love; Got To Choose; 100,000 Years; Love Gun; Black Diamond; Rock And Roll All Nite. Encore: Detroit Rock City.