Sometimes, a farewell can drag on too long. KISS did their first farewell tour with Ace Frehley in the early 2000s, but more than two decades later, they’re still saying goodbye, with original members Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons carrying the flame alongside newer members Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer.
Their current ‘End of the Road’ tour started all the way back in early 2019, got halted for COVID, and played in arenas around Australia to rave reviews last year. But such is the power of the local KISS army, a petition landed Australians with yet another opportunity to say goodbye – this time at a one-night-only exclusive Sydney show, upsized into a stadium.
Following on from renowned alternative rockers The Delta Riggs and Regurgitator, evergreen indie icons Weezer didn’t appear on paper to be the best fit to warm up the masses for their glam-rocking. pyro-packing counterparts.
That hardly phased frontman Rivers Cuomo and his band of merry men, though, who waltzed on stage relaxed and opened with “My Name Is Jonas”, the initial track from their seminal 1994 self-titled debut. It was followed by the instantly recognisable “Beverley Hills”, which was perfectly complimented by animated backdrops of Hollywood scenery alongside the song title and the band’s name.
The remainder of the set found Weezer more than holding their own, with beloved hits such as “Island in the Sun” and ‘Say It Ain’t So’ impressing with plenty of guitar shredding; a special cover of KISS’ “Strutter” sealed the deal. Cuomo also kept the crowd onside and his nerdy frontman character in check with compliments like, “Sydneysiders are bloody legends” and an “Aussie Aussie Aussie (Oi Oi Oi)” chant.
When KISS prepared to hit the stage, there were still obvious gaps in the front GA section, while the seats at the southern end of Accor Stadium appeared 95% empty, perhaps simply the signs of a ‘KISS farewell overdose’.
All that was forgotten as soon the curtain fell for the band’s bombastic opening song “Detroit Rock City”, complete with an avalanche of pyro and the four members descending on platforms.
From there, it was everything fans knew and loved about a KISS concert – if you’d had a bingo card, you wouldn’t have been left with much to tick off. Hundreds of cliché poses; blood spitting and fire breathing from Simmons; epic guitar duels and drum solos; Stanley’s zip-line ride to a satellite stage for “Love Gun”; and an astounding amount of fireworks.
This deep into their career, KISS remain as polished as ever. Their setlist was full of fist-pumpers such as “Shout It Out Loud”, “Say Yeah”, and “Lick It Up”.
As the encore arrived, the group took a last bow, seemingly ready to end the night. It ignited thoughts of the impossible – an early finish without KISS playing two of their most recognisable hits.
Thankfully, it turned out to not be the case. The special inclusion of local favourite “Shandi”, from their Unmasked album in 1980, was followed by probably the last two things to tick off that bingo card: “I Was Made for Loving You” was belted out with hundreds of giant balloons flying amongst the crowd, followed by “Rock and Roll All Nite” as kilos of confetti soared through the air.
Prior to being called up for the AFL Grand Final at the MCG last weekend, this was always going to be a one-night-only affair, an encore after last year’s tour.
Was it the most knockout and adequately special send-off in Australia for a band as legendary as KISS? Due to the obvious pockets of empty seats inside the stadium, perhaps not. Could it have packed a bigger punch in a smaller venue like Allianz Stadium? Arguably yes. Was it still a worthy encore that the local KISS army happily lapped up, and did we all still “Rock and Roll All Nite”? Absolutely.
Until next time, KISS. Maybe.