KISS | Credit: Francesco Prandoni/Getty Images

KISS Review – Enough Substance to Maintain the Style at Melbourne Farewell

KISS performed at Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena on Tuesday, 23rd August. David James Young reviews.

There’s something freeing and endearing about watching Dallas Crane in 2022. The Melbourne band have no agenda, no new album to plug, no cash-in reunion tour to sell tickets for. Front person Dave Larkin is under no delusions either. He refers to Dallas Crane as a “local Melbourne band”, which is the kind of term you’d give to an act playing the front bar of The Tote and not one that’s been in the Hottest 100 twice and recorded a song with Jimmy Barnes. But to him, they’re still the scrappy underdogs. Nearly 20 years after their heyday, it’s clear that they’re still doing this because it’s still fun for them.

Larkin and co. have done enough support slots in their time to know how to get strangers on side. Tracks like the sneering ‘No Through Road’, the stomping ‘Lovers & Sinners’ and the urgent, rousing closer ‘Dirty Hearts’ all still hold up. They might be weekend warriors these days, but Dallas Crane’s time on the battlefield deserves to be commended and celebrated.

The End of the Road for KISS

There are plenty of made-up faces inspired by tonight’s headliner in the audience, not to mention plenty of shirts from tours gone by. One in particular sticks out: “KISS: 1973-2001”. That’s right – KISS first said they were calling it quits over 20 years ago. So what makes tonight, the third of three shows in Melbourne as part of the band’s ‘End Of The Road’ tour, feel any different, knowing KISS could go back on their word again?

Is it a hollow gesture? Is KISS, as a whole, based on hollow gestures? What’s beneath the make-up and the costumes? Lest we forget the period in the 1980s when they removed them, were completely shunned, and then retreated back into their original look. Has the band who were once dubbed “knights in Satan’s service” (yes, really) now been reduced to family entertainment?

There’s a lot to think about. That is, of course, before the lights go down and the world-famous announcement blares over the PA: “You wanted the best? You got the best. The hottest band in the world: KISS.” Explosion. Fire. Explosion. Cue ‘Detroit Rock City’, and the band descending from the rafters on platforms. By that point, you’re too excited to care.

What ensues is a masterclass in indulgence, excess and playing to the cheap seats. From the giant video screens to the massive inflatable balloon versions of the band that are perched like gargoyles either side of the stage, to the constant barrage of flames – including Gene Simmons doing some fire-breathing – you’re swept up in the theatre of it all.

You grin like an idiot when Tommy Thayer shoots rockets out of the neck of his guitar, holding his hand up to his ear to rile the crowd. You forget every stupid thing Simmons has ever said when his mouth is gushing blood (capsules) during ‘God Of Thunder’. The cheer that ensues when Eric Singer’s drum riser literally rises during a flashy solo would make you think the guy just walked on water – and you’re having so much fun that you buy it hook, line and sinker.

KISS – ‘God of Thunder’ Live in Melbourne

At the centre of it all, of course, is lead singer Paul Stanley. Stanley flies out on some rigging to a B-stage up the back of the arena and performs two of the best KISS songs back to back: ‘Love Gun’ and ‘I Was Made For Lovin’ You’. The former is a head-banger of the highest order, a delectable slice of double-entendre nonsense that is hand-crafted for windows-down sing-alongs. The latter deserves to be in the conversation alongside the Stones’ ‘Miss You’ and Queen’s ‘Another One Bites The Dust’ as the best rock band disco sell-out single ever. Not all that glitters is gold, but this gem certainly is.

All the stops are pulled out for the grand finale of ‘Rock and Roll All Nite’. Confetti spurts across the room no less than three times, while the balloons that were released during ‘Shandi’ are still bouncing about the place. The fire returns, the pyro is back and the declaration of intent to “party every day” rings loud and clear across the entire arena. It’s completely ridiculous, but it’s also entirely majestic – and that’s the balance you have to strike with a band like KISS. There needs to be just enough substance to maintain the style. It’s symbiotic, really.

Consider a KISS show like an action movie you’ve seen a dozen times. Sure, you could sit there and nitpick the inconsistencies in the plot – but who’s there for the plot? You’re there to watch shit blow up and high-five your mates when it happens.

Further Reading

KISS Accidentally Flew the Australian Flag During A Show In Austria

Watch Dave Grohl Deliver His Best KISS Impression With Goofy ‘Rock And Roll All Nite’ Cover

KISS Announces Final Australian Tour Dates

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