By Matt Innes
After two false starts, the hottest band in the world KISS have at last brought their ‘End Of The Road’ tour to Australia, bidding a final farewell to their loyal fans nearly 50 years of rock and rolling all night, and partying every day.
The Australian leg of KISS’ ‘End Of The Road’ tour was originally set for late 2019 but has been postponed twice – once due to lead singer Paul Stanley’s ongoing issues with his vocal cords and again because of COVID.
With all that behind them, the KISS juggernaut has landed on Australian shores with all the grandeur and spectacle that comes with being one of the world’s most successful and biggest-selling rock acts ever.
Having already been given a fond send-off by Melbourne and Sydney audiences, KISS continue their Australian onslaught through Adelaide, Perth, Brisbane and the Gold Coast before jetting off forever.
While it may not be the first time KISS have embarked on a so-called ‘farewell’ tour, it is more than likely the last time Australian audiences will see the legendary rockers in concert. Both Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley have confirmed that although KISS will continue as an enterprise, their final live performance will take place in 2023, bringing to a close one of the greatest live legacies in rock.
The story of KISS and their rise to stardom has been documented ad nauseum by music critics and journalists since their inception. Nevertheless, the band was formed in New York City in 1973 by vocalist/guitarist Paul Stanley and bassist Gene Simmons. Armed with a vision and the grim determination to be the greatest rock band in the world, they recruited drummer Peter Criss and lead guitarist Ace Frehley to their burgeoning army and set about changing the world of music forever.
Taking on other-worldly personalities and adorning themselves in garish make-up paired with skin-tight costumes and provocative stage antics, KISS blazed a trail for what would become known as ‘shock rock’.
Breathing fire, spitting blood and lyrics about promiscuous sex proved to be a potent recipe for success in the ‘70s. Taken in combination with their appearance and cock-sure attitude, it’s little wonder that KISS quickly became the target of concerned parents and religious advocates who saw the band as spokespeople for The Devil himself set on corrupting their children.
The ensuing moral panic only served to increase KISS’ profile as the ultimate bad influence, which helped to ensure their success. As parents and preachers around the world denounced KISS and their alleged ties to Satan, Gene and Paul were building what would become one of the most lucrative business schemes in entertainment history.
Aside from the huge catalogue of iconic music they have created, KISS’ most valuable trait has always been their ability to market themselves. Throughout the ‘70s and ‘80s, the band produced a phenomenal range of merchandise, including action figures, comic books and lunchboxes alongside the standard fare of albums and t-shirts. Original and authentic KISS merchandise remains a hot-ticket item for collectors to this day, often selling for thousands to the right buyer.
To their fans and the legion of KISS Army acolytes, KISS are a musical for to be reckoned with. I can personally attest to the powerful allure KISS possesses, having been drawn to them in my early teenage years. Their music spoke to me, and I was enamoured by their presence to the point of obsession, collecting various memorabilia that remain treasured possessions to this day.
In 2001, at the tender age of 15, I had the opportunity to see KISS live at Carrara Stadium on the Gold Coast as part of their supposed farewell tour. It was a defining experience for me and is one of my fondest memories. It was also the final live appearance of original lead guitarist Ace Frehley, who has been replaced by long-time substitute Tommy Thayer for the ‘End OF The Road’ tour.
It’s been a phenomenal, history-making journey for KISS, but all good things must come to an end. Though their days as a live act are drawing to a close, rest assured there is no shortage of KISS to enjoy for subsequent generations to come.