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[whitespace] Kiss Them Good-bye

Rock's campy superheroes vamped through a fiery farewell performance

By Sarah Quelland

I HAVE SEEN the Rolling Stones, Mötley Crüe, Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie and GWAR--all infamous for their outrageous live stage shows--but I have never seen anything like Kiss, and I probably never will again. Kiss performed at the Oakland Arena last Thursday (March 23) as part of its historic farewell tour, and I finally understand what all the fuss is about. The four original members (vocalist Paul Stanley, bassist Gene Simmons, guitarist Ace Frehley and drummer Peter Criss) were larger-than-life superheroes, and their theatrical, over-the-top show set a very high standard indeed. Filled with explosions, flashing lights, fire and blood, the Kiss of today appears to be the same Kiss of the "Detroit Rock City"-era. With the costumes and makeup, the guys never seemed to age, and their stamina showed little sign of slowing down.

The arena went black, and the band descended from the sky onto the stage before bursting into "Detroit Rock City." Kiss performed for nearly two hours, and the night's set included "Deuce," "Shock Me," "Cold Gin," "Calling Dr. Love," "Lick It Up," "Love It Loud," "Black Diamond," "Shout It Out Loud," "100,000 Years," "Do You Love Me," "Beth," "Heaven's on Fire," "Psycho Circus" and the obscure gem (sung by Frehley) "2000 Man." Kiss pulled out all the stops, including Simmons' trademark fire-spitting during "Firehouse" and blood-spewing during "God of Thunder." During "Love Gun," Stanley flew across the audience to a smaller stage by the back of the arena. Near the end of the glittery spectacle, Criss was lifted several stories into the air on a tremendous platform. Nearly every member of the sold-out audience was on its feet--shouting, screaming and singing--eyes on the band, fists pumping, for the entire night. Every member of the band was completely adored to the point that the audience all but drowned out the band. That's a form of hero worship you just don't see much anymore.

I wasn't introduced to Kiss until 1984's Animalize and the single "Heaven's on Fire" (a low point, I understand, for real Kiss fans), and I'm not terribly familiar with the band's material. However, I walked away with a newfound respect. If this isn't truly Kiss' last tour, you can bet I'll be first in line for tickets to the next one (rumors of a stop at Shoreline Amphitheatre are floating about). The band closed with rock anthem "Rock & Roll All Nite," and the whole arena erupted in a shower of confetti. I don't think a single Kiss fan walked away unsatisfied--with the tragic exception of 36-year-old Shawn Stubblefield, who fell to his death from a retaining wall not intended for seating, located in the upper reaches of the arena, during "God of Thunder." Even more sobering was the news that his friends remained oblivious throughout the show, thinking he had simply disappeared to the bathroom. Police ruled the death an accident.

Main support Ted Nugent put on a rocking show as well and seemed hell-bent on offending everyone. The only disappointment of the night was opening act Skid Row. Frontman Sebastian Bach is no longer with the band, but I'd wager 90 percent of the audience thought Bach was singing, which is sad. The fill-in vocalist positively butchered the ballad "I Remember You" and did little justice to the other songs. If you want to catch the real Bach--and hear old Skid Row material done right--he's playing at Maritime Hall tomorrow (March 31), and Anton Fig from Late Night With David Letterman will be playing drums.

After the show, we spotted all three members of Green Day, sporting Kiss memorabilia and acting as giddy as little schoolboys. Bassist Mike Dirnt said Green Day's new album will be out in four to five months. These East Bay punks will be on the Vans Warped Tour, which stops at Pier 30-32 in San Francisco on July 1. ... The Cactus Club introduces a new dance night next Wednesday (April 5) called the Requiem, a true gothic affair featuring industrial, ethereal and dark electronica.

PLAN AHEAD: No Use for a Name, Good Riddance and others, March 30 at Slim's in San Francisco; Subset, April 1 at the Usual; M.I.R.V., Krenshaw and others, April 1 at the Cactus; the Genitorturers, April 2 at Maritime Hall in San Francisco; Sugar Ray and the Fingers, April 2 at Paramount's Great America; the Melvins, April 2 at the Catalyst in Santa Cruz; Lit and Save Ferris, April 5 at Maritime Hall.

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From the March 30-April 5, 2000 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2000 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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