It is impossible to know if in 1972 Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley — while just first experimenting with make-up and costumes — knew that they would still be playing together 45 years later. Simmons and Stanley are, of course, the front-men of the glam rock sensation KISS, a band that changed rock music as we know it and is consistently considered one of the greatest bands of all time. The group is currently embarked on their farewell tour, “End of the Road Tour,” and expanded the tour in late 2018 to include Denver.
KISS is one of those bands that have too many iconic traits to count. Does KISS make you think of make-up? Wagging tongues? Leather pants? Elaborate live performances? Well, all these years later the band is still committed to each of the facets of their individuality, even though the members are in their late fifties to early seventies. The Thursday night show at Denver’s Pepsi Center did not disappoint anyone looking for an over-the-top and downright extravagant showcase of talent, along with a shocking amount of fire.
While the band chose to forgo an opening musical act, they did share their stage with performance artist Garibaldi, full name David Garibaldi. As rock music pounded through the stadium, Garibaldi painted a stunning rendition of the band while the audience watched, taking breaks to speak to the crowd and hype them up. Once finished, he announced the painting would soon be signed by the members of the band and then auctioned off to charity. Denver lucked out on catching his skills, as we were the final stop on his contribution to the tour with Kiss.
At 8:45 P.M. the seasoned rockers of KISS stepped onto the stage, kicking the night off with “Detroit Rock City.” Strutting on their signature platforms in front of a wall of loudly booming fire, the three guitarists and a drummer never looked more comfortable and right in their element. With all of the lighting from the stage, the room was lit up clear as day, and all of the singing fans were clearly visible. Simmons stared deeply into the camera, showing off his famous tongue as Stanley belted “Heaven’s On Fire,” “Calling Dr. Love” and “Lick it Up.” Tommy Thayer slew a serious solo before Eric Singer took his turn, shooting sky-high on a platform with his huge drumset.
Simmons’ time to shine involved him riding a platform much higher than Singer’s, and engaging in his favorite trick of pouring blood out of his mouth as he shreds the bass, spitting into a rag and gifting the final product to a lucky member of his audience. After a rowdy “Psycho Circus,” Stanley was ready to be in the spotlight. He hopped on a zip line out to a platform in the audience and sang two songs, the latter being the fan-favorite, “I Was Made for Lovin’ You.” After he swung back to the main stage, “Black Diamond,” and a touching “Beth” from Eric Singer on piano wound down the set and the band took several bows with their crowd.
For their final portion of the encore, confetti, large balloons and fire sparks flew out over the stage as the last track, “Rock and Roll All Nite,” came to a close. The band held nothing back in their delivery and showered the audience with party streamers and lasers.
Overall, the night encompassed everything that KISS stands for as a creative entity. They played all of their hits and shocked their viewers with their ingenuity and dedication to a once in a lifetime evening. Even though it was the last time in Denver, the residue from this last lick will last in the minds of their fans and will hold legendary status, just like everything else Kiss does.