What’s that you say? KISS? Playing to less than 800 people in London? Yep, and there was absolutely no way local longhair, Amit Sharma was going to miss the even that will one day be known as… KISSLINGTON.
When you think of seeing Kiss live, you probably envision four hairy men coated in make-up, singing songs about love and rock ‘n’ roll on a large arena stage. What you don’t expect is an ultra-intimate show at a venue you would normally go to see your mate’s band support some obscure European metallers with an indecipherable logo.
It’s hardly surprising that the 500 tickets available were snapped up within 60 seconds of being on sale and some ended up on eBay for stupid money. Im sure some die-hards out there wouldn’t have thought twice about splashing up to half a grand on seeing such a cult band in this surreal setting. You wouldn’t get this with Feeder now, would you?
Opening with ‘Modern Day Delilah’, the lead single of latest album Sonic Boom, the band look surprisingly comfortable on the tiny Academy stage which must be at least a quarter of the size they are used to. Unusually for this venue the sound is perfect from the start, but Kiss did soundcheck the entire set yesterday with their own dedicated sound team. Obviously your average obscure European blackened death hyperblast metal band aren’t usually afforded this luxury.
If Paul Stanley were a type of cheese, he’d be Roquefort – white, tangy, crumbly and slightly moist, with distinctive veins of green mould. That’s pretty fucking cheesy. He’s the type of chap that probably shouts out clichés like, “You can do it,” to himself even if he’s just tying his shoelaces in the morning. Yet there’s something strangely compelling about the way he tells the crowd, “We’ve had such a good time looking at you people.” Anyone else would get laughed off stage. The charisma that oozes out from them is spellbinding, leaving every single person in some sort of hypnagogic Kiss trance for the entire set. And this is coming from a band whose main members are reaching 60, if not already there.
Whilst the new songs do carry well live, they don’t have the same impact as classics like ‘Cold Gin’, ‘Calling Dr. Love’ and ‘Black Diamond’ which are sung back word for word by almost everyone in the room. Before the staccato intro to ‘Love Gun’, Stanley sings a cappella with the crowd doing the classic question and answer routine only bands like Kiss can get away with. The giant flashing KISS lights behind the band are overwhelming, and add to the dreamlike experience of seeing the self proclaimed ‘Hottest Band in the World’ at such close proximity.
Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer might not be original members, but they have both been in the band for a good while now and have certainly earned their stripes. Thayer even played in the successful Kiss tribute, Cold Gin for a number of years, and eventually became Gene’s assistant – which can’t have been too easy for the poor bugger. When the original Spaceman Ace Frehley left in 2002, it was a no brainer for Tommy to take over – he had been giving Ace guitar lessons on “How to play like Ace Frehley” for the Reunion tour.
The usual antics of Gene Simmons flying around, breathing fire and spitting out blood were sorely missed, but tonight’s stripped down 70 minute set really did let the music do the talking – and proved that this band have written some great anthems that will continue to stand the test of time. However, that didn’t stop Simmons drooling and spitting his way all over the stage, and of course showing us his rather oversized lady licker. The only special effect was the 5 minute confetti shower during ‘Rock And Roll All Nite’ which ironically caused an early end to the set due to Co2 emissions. The quartet came back out to encore with Detroit Rock City, but then cut short at 10.15pm due to the breathing difficulties on stage from the confetti cannon emissions.
Tonight was very much a once in a lifetime opportunity: seeing Kiss in such a tiny venue without the pyro felt like a time warp back to the 70s club shows in their early days. When it was all over, the confetti covered crowd seemed somewhat perplexed – almost unsure whether tonight was reality or perhaps some sort classic rock wet dream. It was a shame they didn’t get to perform Deuce and Lick It Up as planned, but I strongly doubt anyone could complain about coughing up a mere £40 to see Kiss this up close and personal. Roll on Wembley.
KISS @ Islington Academy setlist:
Modern Day Delilah
Let Me Go Rock And Roll
Calling Dr. Love
Got To Choose
I Love It Loud
Rock And Roll All Nite
Detroit Rock City