Seven years since their last appearance in our fair city, Kiss rumbled into town to prove that even 44 years since their inception, they can still show some of the new kids how to rock. There’s no way however, that I can write my first arena concert review since the Manchester incident without passing comment and gratitude to the security staff that worked tirelessly on Sunday evening at Birmingham’s Barclaycard Arena. The amassed crowd did us proud as we all queued calmly in the drizzle as we waited patiently to enter the arena. Everyone was patted down and all bags were thoroughly checked before we were allowed in. But for that extra feeling of safety, I don’t think anyone minded.
So, onto the evening’s opening act as proud New Yorkers (and former Band of the Day) The Dives took centre stage. Their show was filled by their energetic songs that their self proclaimed bio of a rock and roll band playing pop songs described perfectly. Considering they’ve only been playing together as a band for around a year and have just one EP under their belt, the set was incredibly polished, resembling a band that have been in the limelight much longer. Not surprising, really, when you take into account frontman Evan Stanley’s father.
Not that they make a big deal out of it, but I guess there are a few bonuses that come your way when your dad is the frontman of the headline act. However, they would be silly to decline the foot-up offered by Kiss and do their hardest to forge their own path with their melodic pop rock hits. Debut EP track “Everybody is Talkin'” was delivered with an infectious energy whilst tracks like “Man, oh Mandy” and “Anticipation” were carried off with an almost 60s rock n roll influence that was confirmed with their cover of the Beatles “Don’t Let Me Down”. Before long, their short and sweet set was complete as the anticipation for the main act grew.
Some people view Kiss as a joke who carry on touring at their grand ages to line the pockets of Gene and Paul. However, if they weren’t serious about what they do, there is no way they would put on the kind of show they do. As my first experience of one of the most renowned rock bands today, my standards were set ridiculously high and I was in no way disappointed. From the moment they descended from their platform onto the huge stage flanked by ridiculous amounts of screens and lights, the huge crowd were in for a night to remember.
Opening with “Deuce”, swiftly followed by “Shout it out Loud” was a cracking way to get the crowd warmed up before a short silence in memory of all those who lost their lives and members of their families in Monday night’s atrocity. It was an eerily sombre moment, but showed the unity of music lovers no matter what the genre. Alongside their touching tribute, Kiss brought the usual mix of high octane, theatrical escapism with their anthemic “Crazy, Crazy Nights” to the hotness of “Firehouse” featuring Gene in full on fire demon mode.
There was, without doubt, something for everyone and they sure don’t show any sign of slowing down just yet. If you didn’t know it, you wouldn’t guess that they should be collecting their pensions rather than prancing around in the most ridiculously high platform boots.
“God of Thunder” saw Gene rise high above his minions, not to be outdone by Paul Stanley who zip-lined across the crowd to a rotating platform in the centre of the arena floor to continue a belting version of “Psycho Circus”. There was smoke, fire, pyro, lasers and more theatre than you could ask for during the show and when “Rock and Roll All Night” signalled the end of the show, there was confetti galore. Stanley and Simmons again performed high above the crowd on roving platforms before their quick break and re-entry for the encore of “I Was Made for Loving You” and “Detroit Rock City”.
By rights, Kiss should be laughable, but they are spectacular at what they do and as the grinning crowd left the arena, we had indeed rocked and rolled all night.
All photos by Amplified Gig Photography.