Pity those who didn’t take advantage of seeing KISS at Mechanics Bank Arena Monday night if this truly is the “End of the Road” farewell tour as they are calling it. Those who didn’t attend the show missed out on a performance that soared past the norms of concerts driven by massive amounts of pyrotechnics, waves of flames, numerous lasers, a flood of confetti and a host of other visual stimulations.
This all accompanied two-plus hours of performance that showed that while the band’s two original members – Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley – might be senior citizens, they have the hearts of young men that they poured into such numbers as “Lick It Up,” “100,000 Years” and “Rock and Roll All Nite.”
If this truly is the last tour (and we have heard that before), KISS could have just showed up, played their hits and moved on down the road to the next venue. But, their performance here was at the absolute opposite end of the musical scale.
A song performed by KISS is like being hit by a rock ‘n’ roll’s version of a defibrillator. Each song drives the beat into the listener’s chest with such intensity that you will be seeing stars (that in reality are just part of the light show).
And the only time the beat slowed was when Stanley interacted with the audience. His banter ranged from coaxing portions of the arena to attempt to out shout other areas to a constant mention of Bakersfield. He even pointed out that the last time KISS rolled through the Central Valley was in 1984. A big chunk of the Mechanics Bank Arena crowd was not even born when they made their last trip but the majority of the audience was made up with those mature enough to have signed on with the KISS Army decades ago.
Stanley carried the brunt of the playfulness with the audience – even to the point of riding a zipline across the length of the arena floor – but whenever the show focused on Simmons, he took command like the rock ‘n’ roll warrior he’s always been. He had the crowd screaming through breathing flames and having blood flow from his mouth.
Tommy Thayer and drummer Eric Singer – who were not members of KISS when the last came to town – took advantage when given moments to shine. Singer was outstanding in a length drum solo. The only small quibble with the show was that Singer’s performance of “Beth” near the end of the set took a little energy out of the audience. Of course, the crowd could have been tired because of the unrelenting pounding pulse of the show.
The energy returned with the confetti-filled finale.
KISS took the stage after a 45-minute opening performance by the 65-year-old David Lee Roth. His vocals and stage presence aren’t the same as when he was making everyone “Jump” in ‘80s but he still has enough energy to command a stage.
Roth strutted around the stage as her performed such tunes as “Tobacco Road,” “Just a Gigolo” and “Just Like Paradise.” He found his footing to highlight his time with a high-stepping version of “Jump.”
Roth was a nice musical appetizer but KISS served up a musical meal feast. It is hard to decide whether this performance was merely KISS showing that a stop on what is being called a final tour is always going to memorable or just their way of showing that when you are still this talented, that calling it quits is not the best idea.
Either way, make a note to yourself. When rock ‘n’ roll royalty rolls into town – whether it is a final tour or not – don’t miss the opportunity to see the show. Missing those chances is your loss.