KISS Rogers Arena, Vancouver BC, January 31

KISS Rogers Arena, Vancouver BC, January 31
Photo: Joshua Peter Grafstein
KISS kicked off their "One Last KISS: End of the Road World Tour" at Rogers Arena last night and this first of their farewell shows was an exercise in pure excess. Not a single classic arena rock trope went untouched.
KISS descended to the stage on platforms suspended from the ceiling. Flames and fireworks shot up behind them, illuminating them in all their metallic, studded and face-painted glory. When KISS announced this tour last September, singer/rhythm guitarist Paul Stanley promised the shows were going to be their most explosive ever. True to his word, the night was filled with relentless pyro. The heat from the flames was palpable. The smell of lighter fluid wafted through the air.
Stanley, too, moved through the air. A pulley hoisted him onto a floating stage on the other side of the arena. There, he sang "Love Gun" before zipping back down amongst explosions of pyro and streamers during the next song, "I Was Made for Lovin' You."
KISS blasted through other classics including "Detroit Rock City," "Shout It Out Loud," "Deuce," "Lick It Up," "Psycho Circus" and "Cold Gin." But singer/bassist Gene Simmons led some of KISS's most crushing songs, including "War Machine" and "God of Thunder." During the latter, he rained down slabs of hellacious bass lines from atop a platform raised high in the air. He also reached peak Gene Simmons during this song, spewing fake blood all over himself.
Lead guitarist Tommy Thayer and drummer Eric Singer also had shining moments. Thayer showed off his most technical work on "Let Me Go, Rock'n'Roll," the hottest shredder of the night. Singer unleashed a kick-drum heavy solo during "100,000 Years" while the rest of the band caught their breath offstage.
KISS began their three-song encore with Singer alone at a piano for "Beth," the night's only ballad. Stanley, Simmons and Thayer re-joined him for "Do You Love Me" and finally, "Wanna Rock and Roll All Nite." While Stanley conducted fans from the stage, cranes swung Simmons and Thayer mere feet in front of fans on both sides of the arena. Confetti and balloons dropped. The stage ignited with fireworks of all colours and flames one last time.
Whether "One Last KISS" really is the end of the road for the band, or ultimately another fake-out, like the "KISS Farewell Tour" from 2000- 2001, the gluttonous evening of rock'n'roll excess was everything the Vancouver chapter of the KISS Army could have wanted.

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