On Monday night, the legendary rock band KISS graced the stage at Resorts World Arena for their End of the Road world tour, marking their seventh and final appearance in Birmingham since their first visit back in 1976. From the explosive stage presence to the timeless hits, KISS proved why they are regarded as one of the greatest live acts in rock history, delivering a jaw-dropping performance that left fans exhilarated.
One cannot discuss KISS without acknowledging their iconic and unparalleled visual aesthetic. Their unique look is instantly recognizable and sets them apart from any other band in rock history. With their flamboyant outfits, intricate face paint designs, and larger-than-life stage presence, KISS embodies a captivating combination of rockstar extravagance and theatricality. The band members, known by their stage personas of Starchild (Stanley), Demon (Simmons), Spaceman (Frehley), and Catman (Criss), donned elaborate costumes that showcased their individual characters while collectively representing the essence of KISS. From the sparkling sequins to the towering platform boots, KISS’s visually striking appearance perfectly complements their powerful music, creating a mesmerising and unforgettable experience.
Before the epic performance by KISS, the opening acts set the tone for the night, warming up the crowd with their energetic performances. The Wild Things bring their high energy and captivating talent to the stage, delivering a dynamic live experience. With Sydney Rae White leading the charge, this British rock band immerses the audience in their sound. Their raw and passionate performance showcased their skills in the alternative rock genre, creating a high-energy show that had the crowd engaged and ready for more.
Skindred came next to set the stage on fire with their energetic and entertaining performance. As they took the spotlight, the venue was getting busier and the anticipation in the air was palpable. The band kicked off their set in a unique and humorous way, singing a rendition of “If You’re Happy and You Know It,” which immediately had the crowd engaged. The infectious vibe continued as everyone actually clapped their hands, creating a lively interaction between the band and the audience.
Skindred’s frontman proved to be a charismatic force, showcasing his funny and engaging stage presence. He trained the crowd to sing along before exploding into “That’s My Jam”, resulting in a sea of hands in the air, waving and jumping with enthusiasm. The band’s messages of overcoming negativity and pursuing one’s dreams resonated with the audience, as they passionately delivered songs like “Kill the Power”.
A highlight of their performance was when they instructed everyone to hold their t-shirts up and do the helicopter, creating a captivating and chaotic spectacle. The energy reached its peak as Skindred bid farewell, expressing their gratitude with the words, “Thank you very much! Peace! Happy new year!” Their unforgettable set left the audience exhilarated and set the stage perfectly for the rock legends KISS to take the night to even greater heights.
From the moment KISS burst onto the stage with “Detroit Rock City,” the crowd erupted into a frenzy of excitement. The band’s iconic outfits and distinctive makeup transported us to a realm of pure rock and roll magic. Each member displayed their musical mastery, unleashing thunderous beats, blistering guitar solos, and soaring vocals that resonated throughout the arena, leaving no doubt that this was a farewell tour to remember.
The setlist was a masterful blend of KISS’s greatest hits and fan favourites. “Shout It Out Loud” ignited a sing-along frenzy, while “Heaven’s on Fire” sent waves of nostalgia through the crowd. The anthemic “I Love It Loud” had the audience shouting the chorus at the top of their lungs, while “Lick It Up” showcased the band’s infectious energy. While every song was met with thunderous applause and passionate sing-alongs from the crowd, the stage came alive with dazzling pyrotechnics, flames, explosions, and epic visuals, amplifying the already breathtaking experience.
Vocalist Paul Stanley and bassist Gene Simmons commanded the stage with their dynamic presence. Stanley’s vocals soared effortlessly through the arena, while Simmons mesmerised the crowd with his commanding basslines and fire-breathing antics. Their camaraderie and chemistry were obvious, reflecting decades of shared musical journey.
Note-worthy moments included the mesmerising guitar solo by Tommy Thayer, where his virtuosity and showmanship took centre stage. The crowd was left in awe as he effortlessly commanded the instrument, leaving us craving for more. Not only that, but we were also treated with a drum solo by Peter Criss that was a tour de force, showcasing his incredible skills and captivating the audience with thunderous rhythms that reverberated in our chests.
Following, of course, Simmons’s bass solo was a rumbling earthquake of sound, captivating the audience with its raw intensity.
Another highlight was “Say Yeah”, a high-energy anthem that captures the essence of KISS’s signature sound. With its infectious hooks and driving rhythm, the song immediately grabs hold of the audience, compelling them to join in the exhilarating chorus. Definitely worth mentioning was “I Was Made for Lovin’ You”, the timeless hit that seamlessly blends rock and disco influences and was definitely the most awaited song of the night. Its infectious chorus and upbeat rhythm instantly got the crowd moving. “Calling Dr. Love” was another classic track filled with seductive charm and irresistible swagger. The song showcased the band’s knack for crafting catchy melodies and memorable guitar riffs. These songs and many more show KISS’s ability to create anthems that resonate with fans across generations.
There was even blood involved for the fan-favourite “God of Thunder”, which felt like a whole experience by itself. Another proof that the members of KISS will never get old took place ahead of “Love Gun” as Stanley asked the crowd to shout his name. He took his guitar in one hand and put his but in the hoop, and, just like that, he travelled across the venue to the smaller stage in the back.
The band’s crowd interaction and stage banter were integral to the experience. As flames shot into the sky, guitarist Tommy Thayer addressed the audience, proclaiming, “Birmingham army, take a look at yourselves, you are beautiful!” This personal connection between the band and their dedicated fans added an extra layer of intimacy to their performance, even after all these years of fame.
During the encore, a moment of sheer magic unfolded. The band left the stage, and drummer Eric Singer appeared on a piano, which was slowly lifted onto the stage. Bathed in pink lights, he mesmerised the crowd with a heartfelt rendition of “Beth” from the 1976 album “Destroyer.” Rose petals danced on the screens, evoking a tender and emotional atmosphere. Soon, the rest of the band joined him, creating a collective embrace of the music that transcended time and space.
Getting closer to an end, the guitarist addressed the crowd,”Every song asks a question, and this song asks, ‘Do you love me?'” The chorus exploded, as the entire arena sang the beloved ‘Do you love me?’ in unison, affirming their unwavering devotion to the band. Last but not least, the infectious energy of “Rock and Roll All Nite” brought the entire arena to its feet, with fans singing and dancing in unison.
As the final chords rang out, KISS told their fans, “We love you people, never forget us.” Birmingham will forever hold this extraordinary night close to their rock-loving souls, cherishing the lasting legacy of KISS.
KISS’s End of the Road performance in Birmingham was a magnificent testament to their lasting impact on rock and roll. With pyrotechnics, stunning outfits and theatrical makeup, they created a visual spectacle that perfectly complemented their musical prowess spanned over decades of hits. Their exceptional crowd interaction and ability to connect on a deep level further solidified their legendary status.
Detroit Rock City
Shout It Out Loud
Heaven’s on Fire
I Love It Loud
Guitar Solo (Tommy Thayer)
Lick It Up
Calling Dr. Love
God of Thunder
I Was Made for Lovin’ You
Do You Love Me
Rock and Roll All Nite
Review: Andra Tudoran
Feature photograph courtesy of PR.