August 29, 2009

The KISS Army mobilized an especially dedicated battalion to downtown London Saturday morning.

Hundreds of fans lined up outside the John Labatt Centre - including some who stood in line for nearly 12 hours - to get tickets to the legendary rock group's long-awaited return to London next month.

Tickets went on sale at 10 a.m. - and first in line was 44-year-old stock broker Cristina Parker, who arrived outside the JLC at 11:30 p.m. Friday.

"Well, it's KISS," she said, when asked what motivates that kind of commitment. "I've seen them 20 or 30 times.

"I've been part of the KISS army since I was 12 years old. (Singer/guitarist) Paul Stanley was my first crush - Starchild, I love him."

Though the skies threatened the kind of weather that would wash the facepaint right off their rock heroes, Parker was among about a half-dozen people who spent the night in line.

By the time the box office opened, there were nearly 100 fans waiting for tickets to what they figure is KISS's first London appearance in nearly 20 years.

April Tuffin, 45, and her 18-year-old son, David, arrived at about 1 a.m. She wanted to make sure they got good seats to her boy's first KISS experience.

For James Edwards, 49, it's easy to explain the dedication that brought him out in the dead of night, hours before tickets were available.

His first ever concert, he says, was in August 1977, when KISS played London Gardens with Cheap Trick as the opening act.

He's seen them several times since, but beyond the live show it's the respect the band shows its fans that keeps him coming back.

He was blown away, he says, when he met the band years ago and Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley signed posters and a guitar for him.

"I said 'thanks for your time' and they said 'no, thank you for your years of support.' How many bands would say that?"

The Canadian tour that stops in London Sept. 29 did meet some controversy earlier this week when Oshawa, which won an online contest to get the band to play there, appeared to be left off the itinerary.

Simmons later said Oshawa was always in their plans and the band hoped to surprise the city with a late announcement. They are slated to play the Toronto suburb Oct. 7.