Kiss @Newcastle Utilita Arena, June 6 2023
There’s something utterly preposterous about a 71-year-old pensioner sporting platform heels, his face painted in trademark black and white, clinging to a cradle and triumphantly sailing over thousands of fans with that famous rug of chest hair flapping in the breeze.
Then again, Kiss trademarked preposterous decades ago.
New York’s canniest comic book rockers built a multi-million dollar corporation on the frankly outrageous.
The more absurd, outlandish and ludicrous the better as far as Kiss is concerned.
And if this really is The End Of The Road then what a journey it’s been.
Kiss are just the ticket
Disappointingly, talk of poor pre-sales and a tired setlist dominated the narrative ahead of this final Newcastle show.
The decision to cancel the band’s Plymouth date a few weeks earlier was hardly a catalyst for positive spin.
And although the Toon survived the cull there came a point where Kiss couldn’t give tickets away for this Tuesday night shindig.
Except they did, save for the booking fee (after their most loyal fans forked out a canny wedge months ago).
But all was forgiven — and largely forgotten — as soon as the custodians of prime arena entertainment made a typically audacious entry ahead of a reassuringly flamboyant show.
Paul Stanley’s timely retelling of his favourite Newcastle City Hall story set the tone for a two-way celebration of a 50-year legacy.
Band and fans united as one to party one last time against a backdrop of deep cuts (Makin’ Love!) and back catalogue staples.
And the end of the night or the end of the road — call it what you want — came far too early for Newcastle’s steadfast and loyal Kiss Army.
Gods of thunder
There had been blood, fire, confetti canons and kaleidoscopic lasers.
Stanley screamed like a little girl. Gene Simmons growled like a poked bear.
And Tommy Thayer stole the show with the biggest boots and the brashest solos.
Eric Singer sat atop a ridiculous drum riser before leading the band in a beautiful rendition of Beth.
And through it all the high definition backdrop added a new dimension to a band that’s always pushed the audio visual boundaries.
Kiss are — and always have been — the consummate professionals and it’s little surprise that the end of the road led them here.
To a place where the production values of the studio combine seamlessly with the instinctive craft of live performance.
It’s all in the Genes (and Pauls)
Nobody can teach the showmanship Stanley and Simmons have always possessed.
Nobody could have predicted the boundless ambition that’s enabled Kiss to straddle six decades as rock and roll’s great survivors.
And nobody can truly believe this is the beginning of the end for a global treasure.
The posters say so.
The band says so.
And the passion underpinning a heartfelt farewell to Newcastle said so.
A final Kiss? If so, it hurts.
Wild start to a big night
Kicking off the night — and clearly relishing the unenviable task of playing to the slow trickle of fans rocking up early doors — were The Wild Things.
Fronted by the energetic Sydney Rae White, the eye-catching outfit laid on an adrenaline-soaked treat for those willing to drag themselves away from the bar.
Sounding akin to a foul-mouthed Hayley Williams, White and co. smashed out a mini set as if the Utilita Arena was packed to the rafters.
Heaven Knows set the singer loose to unleash some killer wails and utilise a megaphone for the song’s hefty bridge.
On a night celebrating rock royalty, it was refreshing to see its future remains in safe hands.
On the face of things, Skindred were an odd choice for a Kiss support act.
But those in the know accept this fast-rising Download-bound crew are the perfect choice to get any — and every — party started.
And so it proved.
Webbe’s impassioned speeches around supporting live music and keeping the rock and roll flame burning resonated with the varied demographic.
And a timely reminder that Skindred are back on Tyneside in October may well have shifted a few more tickets.
More nu rock from Newport? Yes please.
Kiss images courtesy of Mick Burgess. Skindred image by G’s Gig Shots.
Additional reporting by Andrew Spoors