When God gave rock and roll to us one of the bands he surely earmarked for blind worship was Kiss.
This moving Sunday service in Newcastle might not have seen the largest congregation ever to grace the city’s cavernous arena but the faith, if not the ticket sales, was strong.
And thanks to a sensational sermon lasting more than two hours those who did choose to pay homage at the church of Kiss were treated to pure rock heaven.
But the sad thing is that it’s doubtful we’ll see the like again – at least on Tyneside. A business like Kiss simply can’t afford to play to half empty venues and the frowns across the faces of the stream of staff emerging from stage right before and during the show said it all.
The empty seats will have been duly noted and the bean counters ordered to calculate the loss. Or at least asked to explain why Newcastle and Sheffield were put on sale long after the original raft of Sonic Boom Over Europe dates were announced. With so many of the region’s die-hard fans already committed to costly trips to Manchester and Glasgow this gig was always going to be a hard sell.
But the show must go on and it’s unlikely Kiss would have played this any different had five times as many people packed the place. And let’s be frank here – they played it just about perfectly.
Just about. Once concession to their UK fans in 2010 is the inclusion of chart-busting hair metal anthem Crazy Crazy Nights but it’s a song Paul Stanley doesn’t really rate and a tune Kiss can take or leave (normally the latter). The fans love it but a lacklustre version, delivered almost reluctantly and dogged by poor sound, proved the one lowlight on a night of so many spine-tingling highs.
There was the pop rock, the pyro, the platforms (heels and hydraulic) and the patter. A heady mix which knocks spots off so many fellow seasoned performers. It’s unlikely many Kiss fans forked out to see Whitney Houston last month but if the fading warbler needs direction on how to deliver a near-flawless show she could do worse than calling up Gene the next time she’s in town.
The New Yorkers have found a recipe for getting it just right and new album Sonic Boom fits the blueprint for polished anthems coursed with garage rock grit. Opening up with Modern Day Delilah was no risk such is the quality of the band’s latest material and Say Yeah brought the house down.
But the classics are what count where the Kiss Army is concerned and they were all here. Stanley’s stripped down intro to Love Gun was inspired and 1979 hit I Was Made For Lovin’ You took on a new lease of life as the singer soared above his audience before landing on a platform in splendid isolation.
Significantly the Tommy Thayer/Eric Singer instrumental duet was an obvious highlight and the ‘new boys’ are not short on confidence. Stanley and Simmons value their class and their contribution with Thayer the new Ace in the Kiss pack.
It was the axe slinger’s delivery of Shock Me which proved the point and his talent is beyond question. Complementing Stanley on the raucous Detroit Rock City the lead guitarist knows when to shine and when to slip quietly into the shadows.
One of those moments was when Simmons delivered his bloodthirsty bass turn before flying into the rafters and landing on his own mini-platform. It was smaller than Stanley’s but then Gene boasts the bigger tongue…
The same cannons which nearly spelled disaster during the band’s intimate club show in London earlier this year created a Co2 fuelled storm of shredded paper to finish off a blistering set with a tickertape bang.
And the sheer scale of this explosive event will leave a lasting impression on all those present. Rock stars just don’t do gigs like this anymore but then Kiss aren’t just any old rock stars.