OK, let’s just forget the music.
You either like KISS and appreciate their music or you just don’t care for it thus don’t listen. Yes, I suppose you can hate them especially if you ever got into a stare down with Gene Simmons. But you can’t really dismiss KISS because no one came before them and no one has come since. No one ever will, either.
But now it’s over.
For real. No really, for real this time. Maybe. The door remains slightly ajar even if it’s someone else that walks through it. Anyway…
It’s been a long road and the road towards retirement remains a long one as the band embarks on an at least two-year (possibly and likely longer) farewell, aptly named End of the Road tour, but KISS has indeed finally called it quits (at least partially claiming to) after 45 years and they bid goodbye to Portland, OR just the second date of who knows how many, on Friday at a sold-out Moda Center that had fans of all ages rocking for 2 hours through a 20 song setlist.
Even if you don’t like the music. Go. That’s what I did, but years ago now. And haven’t missed them since. Nor was I going to miss them on this tour. Relax, no I don’t not like their music it just never spoke to me like many other bands have over the years. They have some great tunes which got played and songs probably only the KISS Army enjoy. Those got played too. Every one oozing the essence of KISS. That’s what was promised, after all.
The spectacle KISS brings to the live show has never failed. Arguably, it was their first live album released more than 40 years ago that cemented a following and brought them fame. This spectacle remains.
That’s why you should go.
Nope, none of the no-longer-with-the-band original players in the form of Peter Criss and Ace Frehley made a guest appearance. And don’t expect that to happen at all during the End of the Road tour especially in light of this week’s events that rolled out on social media. Apparently, even nearly 70 year old men get into catfights. Therefore, KISS, as they stand and play, remain lead singer, guitarist and co-founder Paul Stanley, bassist and co-founder Gene Simmons, drummer Eric Singer and lead guitarist and local boy Tommy Thayer.
KISS got a late start because of an apparent delay at the Canadian border which left most fans outside waiting in light drizzle as the roadies set up the stage. A lot of disgruntled ticket holders, no doubt, but once KISS finally took the stage around 9:15 p.m. smiles returned. And, yes it was an explosive, unapologetic, bombastic KISS concert that shows exactly why the band has lasted this long.
They opened with their classic “Detroit Rock City” and worked their way through many of their studio albums while taking heavily from their 1975 self-titled debut and their smash Destroyer. “Shout It Out Loud” followed then the bass thumping “Deuce” as Simmons took his turn on the mic. Stanley sings lead with Simmons usually on back-up but Simmons took the reins on a number of songs including “War Machine,” “Cold Gin,” “I Love It Loud” and of course the heavy “God of Thunder” which lifted him high over the crowd on a platform where he spit up blood during his usual opening bass solo for the song.
The solo was shortened a bit, not the usual hard and heavy extended play as on previous tours, but he got his point across. The band also had some solid jams together to close out “Lick It Up” and “Let Me Go, Rock ‘N” Roll” and all four members got their turn in the spotlight with individual solos that were not works of art but showed them having some fun at their craft.
The evening fluctuated at times from driving hard rocking energy that helped pace the show along nicely to near abrupt halts that only served to interrupt the aggressive flow. This was perhaps from the band still feeling their way through the setlist (Portland was the second night of the tour and the opener for the full United States tour) or Stanley’s persistence in chatting with the crowd between songs or a combination of both. Who knows if the band was harried from the delay and arriving on time but it didn’t show. Stanley’s voice, fresh off the band’s opening night in Vancouver, BC, was strong and no other glitches, at least obvious ones.
KISS closed the first set with Stanley taking a zipline over the audience to an elevated stage on the opposite end of the arena for the title track to 1977’s Love Gun, and “I Was Made For Living You” off 1979’s Dynasty before heading back to the main stage for the closing song off their debut “Black Diamond.” Singer opened the encore on piano for the band’s hit ballad “Beth” and afterwards you couldn’t tell if the evening was done as all four members waved to the crowd and bowed but then Stanley said the evening wasn’t done and they returned to their instruments to finally close with “Do You Love Me’ and a confetti strewing “Rock and Roll All Nite.”
It might be the End of the Road tour, but KISS did little to reminisce about their past, though Stanley mentioned playing at the old Paramount Theater in Portland a few times. Overall, no walk through the band’s history or stories behind the songs, rather the concert felt exactly that, a raucous evening with KISS full of hot flames and fireworks, loud explosions and lasers.
No real goodbye or closing words. Indeed it seems as though KISS wants to rock and roll and party every day from now until eternity.
KISS Setlist in Portland, OR at Moda Center
- Detroit Rock City
- Shout It Out Loud
- Say Yeah
- Heaven’s on Fire
- War Machine
- Lick It Up
- 100,000 Years
- God of Thunder
- Cold Gin
- Psycho Circus
- I Love It Loud
- Hide Your Heart
- Let Me Go, Rock ‘N’ Roll
- Love Gun
- I Was Made for Lovin’ You
- Black Diamond
- Do You Love Me
- Rock and Roll All Nite