KISS keeps arena rock alive for one last tour

KISS at Rogers Arena 1/31/19

Kiss @ Rogers Arena in Vancouver B.C.
Photo by Ryan Johnson

Faithful KISS fans and spectacle seekers packed Rogers Arena on Thursday night to catch the band’s One Last Kiss: The End Of The Road Tour.  It was an evening lavished with big hair, sequin heels, and arena rock anthems spanning KISS’ 46-year career.

The crowd immediately knew what was in store when pyrotechnic explosions ushered in the driving guitar riff of “Detroit Rock City.” But what fans didn’t know is if this would truly be the last time they’d lose their minds over Paul Stanley and Tommy Thayer’s harmonized guitar solos.

In September of last year, KISS announced their days of playing ringmaster to the psycho circus was coming to an end … but first, they’d embark upon a 105-stop world tour. The news mobilized members of the KISS Army into action but it also reminded skeptics of when they bid adieu in their 2000/2001 Farewell Tour.

Kiss @ Rogers Arena in Vancouver B.C.
Photo by Ryan Johnson

“We’re going to celebrate everything you and me have done together,” cried front man Paul Stanley, setting the stage before launching into the heavy hot-licks of “Deuce.”

As bassist Gene Simmons prowled through the song, footage from an earlier decade played behind the band, reminding fans of their long and accomplished history producing wall-to-wall anthems to catchy primal commands, like “Shout It Out Loud,” “Say Yeah!,” and “Lick It Up.”

Of course, there was the iconic Gene Simmons performance … from strutting onstage with axe and armor, to spitting fire and flashing his big beautiful tongue for the world to see. During “God of Thunder,” Simmons stood tall atop a floating platform banging out a raw solo while a mix of blood and saliva oozed from his mouth. Fans raised their fists high into the air, as if trying to grasp onto the uncertain future of their cherished fandom while also reveling in their cosmic rock-and-roll fantasy.

It wasn’t all hard hits and guitar jams. Drummer Eric Singer stepped out from behind the kit to play a couple bars from “Beth” on an opulent rhinestone grand piano that would make Liberace blush. The band gathered around to help sing: “Beth, I now you’re lonely, and I hope you’ll be alright, ’cause me and the boys will be playing all night,” in what seemed to be a timely reminder that the world can wait when the music feels right.

Kiss @ Rogers Arena in Vancouver B.C.
Photo by Ryan Johnson

Performance painter David Garibaldi opened for KISS, hyping the crowd with stunning pop-art portraits of famous faces, which are up for silent auction at Rock 101 with all proceeds going to the CKNW Kids Fund.

KISS has made a home in the arena rock world and Vancouver fans were privy to one last house-wrecker of a performance. If this is the end of the road, there are still many miles left to travel. The four-leg tour is scheduled to wrap in early December, giving many fans a chance to catch One Last KISS.

Kiss @ Rogers Arena in Vancouver B.C.
Photo by Ryan Johnson