LIVE REVIEW: KISS @ Arena, Manchester (12/07/2019)

Credit: Jen Rosenstein

Date: July 12th, 2019
Venue: Arena, Manchester
Support: David Garibaldi


Boasting a career that’s lasted for over four decades, KISS are one of the most definitive bands in rock, and they’ve managed to maintain a level of legacy and icon that almost every other band would barely even dream to attain.

Honestly, KISS have amassed a fanbase like no other in their toweringly lengthy career. You’d struggle to name a band that even after 40 years still have plenty of the crowd replicating their signature face paints at their shows, and in terms of merch you can get pretty much KISS anything. Did you know that a die-hard can bag themselves a KISS coffin (lovingly named a KISS Kasket) for when they keel over?

It was inevitable that the closing of the KISS curtains was nigh – all four members are more or less in their 60s at this point, and you can only rock ‘n’ roll for so many nights and party for so many days before it takes its toll – and thus they intend to bow out with the aptly titled End Of The Road Tour as their “Final Tour Ever”.

The choice of opener for the UK dates is a definite deviation from the typical choice of support. David Garibaldi [7] isn’t a musician at all; he’s a performance painter. With a large canvas centre stage, Garibaldi emerges with paint brushes in tow and essentially speed paints the faces of rock stars.

As AC/DC hits blast out of the speaker, he hastily yet accurately creates a portrait of rock guitar hero Angus Young, and somehow he manages to splash the canvas in a way to create Mick Jagger upside-down yet perfectly as The Rolling Stones hits blare out, all the while hyping up the room. This is before his final piece of the members of KISS, which he states is going to sold in an auction to raise funds for the Children With Cancer UK charity organisation.

“You wanted the best? You got the best. The hottest band in the world… KISS!” is roared across the arena in announcement right before the huge veil covering the stage plummets to reveal KISS [9], who descend from their air on their own star-studded platforms and right into opening number, ‘Detroit Rock City’. It’s in the following hour and a half that the New York glammed up rockers display just what 40+ years of experience can generate.

Indeed, there’s an almost inconceivable amount of flair and pizzazz on constant display, and that’s exactly what you come to expect and enjoy from a KISS show, especially one stacked with hit after hit like tonight. Tommy Thayer (aka “The Spaceman”) shoots rockets from his guitar during ‘Cold Gin’, Eric Singer‘s (aka “The Catman”) kit soars high on its platform as it rises during ‘Black Diamond’, and Gene Simmons (aka “The Demon”) has blood gushing from his mouth and down his chest whilst his acclaimed tongue splashes it around during ‘God Of Thunder’.

Paul Stanley (aka “The Starchild”) is the main showman of the evening, though. When he’s not duelling riffs with Thayer or delivering soaring solos of his own, he’s throwing picks out to the fans in the front row or encouraging the room into even more of a frenzy. “I love being up here on the stage, but… there’s nothing that I’d rather do tonight than come out there and be with you,” he yells after wrapping up ‘Let Me Go, Rock ‘N’ Roll’. “I can do it too,” he continues “but… you have to invite me,” and sure enough, after a few chants of his name from the thousands of fans in the room, he confirms “Alright, I’m coming out there to see ya!”

Stanley climbs onto a dangling suspended hoop that swings him across to a separate stage platform towards the back of the arena floor, and it’s here while draped in purple lighting that KISS break into the one-two of ‘Love Gun’ and ‘I Was Made For Loving You’.

It’s not long until we reach the end of the set and the encore ensues, beginning with an opportunity for Singer to step out from behind the kit and onto a piano to show off his pipes for the fragile ballad ‘Beth’, which lures us into brief solitude before the bombastic ending of ‘Crazy Crazy Nights’ and ‘Rock And Roll All Night’. Complete with the huge balloons and massive explosions of confetti, KISS say goodbye the only they know how – by being of the most fun, spectacle-driven, and put simply fantastic live bands rock has (soon to be had) to offer.