Cleveland, OH (March 17, 2019) – KISS at Quicken Loans Arena for the End of the Road World Tour. As if downtown Cleveland wasn’t bustling enough on Sunday with the St. Patrick’s Day parade complete with marching bands, elaborately decorated floats, and everything green including the beer, KISS arrived into town to ensure the party would continue well into the evening. Approaching showtime, the scene on the streets changed from people wearing leprechaun hats and gaudy necklaces, to fans of all ages donning the signature make-up of their favorite KISS band members. Whether you prefer the Demon, Catman, Starchild or Spaceman, I cannot think of any other fanbase that is so committed as when you see a family of little ones in full KISS regalia alongside the parents equally costumed.
KISS and Cleveland have a special connection that goes way back, to the tune of 45 years! During the show, Paul Stanley proudly explained to the crowd their first appearance in the Rock & Roll capital was a show at the Agora Theatre and Ballroom back in April, 1974. Only one year after KISS formed, Paul seemingly proud of Cleveland as if we share a part of their discovery, taking them a bit more seriously than other cities for a rock band wearing make-up and costumes all those years ago.
Paul continued his affinity with Cleveland talking about additional shows at the Richfield Coliseum in ’76 for their Destroyer Tour, ’78 for the Alive II Tour and ’79 for the Dynasty Tour. The Richfield Coliseum is no longer which leads us to 2019, where KISS played at the Quicken Loans Arena to a crowd attendance just shy of 19,000. With the “Q” almost at capacity, KISS has come a long way since the show at the Agora where they opened for Rory Gallagher to a crowd of only 1200.
If you are a long time KISS fan, you know how the show starts, with the famous opening line, “You wanted the Best, You got the Best. The Hottest Band in the World…. KISS..!” The curtain dropped, the fans screamed, and all eyes shifted to atop the stage where Gene, Paul & Tommy descended on floating platforms, all while a backdrop of sparks and flames danced all around Eric on the drums. Paul at the mic, pointed to the crowd, yelled Cleveland, and the show kicked off with “Detroit Rock City”.
The concert was nothing less than spectacular and high energy showmanship by all band members. Not only visually stunning with the massive jumbotron screen in the background, a kaleidoscope of lights and colors, ongoing flames, fireballs, sparks and explosions, but KISS played non-stop classics, such as “Lick It Up”, “Shout It Out Loud”, “Calling Dr. Love”, “Black Diamond” and “I Love It Loud” had the crowd endlessly singing along. During one portion of the show, Paul was lofted to the other side of the arena where he landed on a standalone platform, to sing back-to-back “Love Gun” and “I Was Made for Lovin’ You” under a glittered disco ball.
Not to be left out, KISS mixed in some early songs from 1974, “Let Me Go, Rock ‘n’ Roll” and “100,000 Years”. The set list continued with Gene bathed in green light, and being the demon he is, spit blood as the intro to “God Of Thunder” where Gene was lifted on platform high on top of the stage to sing the song. Equally shocking, Tommy shot rockets across stage from his signature guitar in a solo following “Cold Gin”. The evening wouldn’t be complete without Eric Singer frontstage on grand piano doing a solo of “Beth” under a sea of cell phone flashlights that resembled nothing less than looking up at a sky full of stars on a clear night.
After 2 hours of shredding, and 20 songs later, approaching close was “Do You Love Me?” in sync with a flurry of KISS balloons being tipped in the air by the audience followed by the finale “Rock and Roll All Night” where Gene and Tommy were lifted high in the air on rotating cranes to the amazement of the audience. When Rock and Roll All Night started, so did the confetti shower, which lasted almost the entire length of the song. Needless to say, this buried the front row audience and with a stretched ending to the song, Paul windmills his guitar, ultimately smashing his guitar while flames and explosions paralleled a fireworks show only seen on the 4th of July.
As Gene Simmons can attest to, KISS has never been a band to do anything on a small scale, and the Cleveland show was no exception. So much to take in, so many fans, so many classic songs, such a huge stage, the larger than life presence these guys still possess, the spectacle of flames, spark showers & explosions, and a confetti finale that no other band rivals, one would never really think this is end of the road for these legendary rockers. For whatever the future holds, we can be certain KISS will always be the heroes of our youth, and yes it might be the end of the road for touring, but the memories and power of KISS will remain forever.