May 14, 2010
By Trudi Knight

Last night was the final show of the UK leg of the 'Sonic Boom Over Europe' KISS tour, which continues across the continent throughout May and June. Pure Rawk went along to check it out.

After openers Taking Dawn had warmed up the crowd, a gigantic black curtain bearing a silver KISS logo was unfurled to hide the stage. It didn't, however, hide the six confetti cannons in the pit, giving us a hint of what was to come, and also confirming our earlier suspicion that the band had indeed brought arena-sized stage effects to their Islington Academy gig in March.

At around 9pm the video screens kicked into life, prompting a roar from the crowd. In the moments before the band appeared, I had a slightly surreal moment noticing KISS manager Doc McGhee standing a couple of feet away watching himself on the (almost) live video feed showing KISS heading for the stage.

A KISS show is always as much about the theatrics as the music, and 'subtle' and 'understated' are just not in their vocabulary. The tone for the night was set in spectacular fashion when the curtain dropped and the band exploded into view with Gene, Paul and Tommy appearing on a platform at the back of the stage, and rising over Eric's drumkit before descending into the thick fog of pink and red smoke that had temporarily engulfed the stage (along with the photo pit and everyone in it).

"Modern Day Delilah" and "Cold Gin" set the pace, with the band delivering KISS classic after KISS classic to the eager crowd, flanked by a variety of great stage effects, and the gigantic video backdrop following their every move.

"Crazy Crazy Nights" was a massive crowd singalong, reportedly added to the set largely due to huge demand for it in the UK (where it was a Top 10 hit in 1987).

Tommy Thayer took on the vocals for "Shock Me", with a (literally) explosive guitar solo, followed by Eric Singer's drum solo and a firework battle between guitarist and drummer carried out high above the arena stage, assisted by a hydraulic platform and levitating drumkit.

Gene's fire-breathing and blood-spitting was, as always, a great crowd-pleaser; the bass player was then flown on wires to the top of the lighting rig and performed "I Love It Loud" from the top of the arena bathed in red and green light, before returning to the stage for "Love Gun", "Black Diamond" and main set closer "Detroit Rock City".

After a short break, the band returned to the stage to do "the longest encore you've ever seen" and launched into classic 80s track "Lick It Up" followed by "Shout It Out Loud". Paul Stanley teased the crowd and had everyone shouting his name before flying directly over our heads to rapturous cheers and delivering "I Was Made For Lovin' You" from a platform by the mixing desk, before returning to the stage.

Wembley became a church of rock for "God Gave Rock And Roll To You II" and final anthem "Rock and Roll all Nite" was a frenzy of confetti, smoke, hydraulic platforms and pyrotechnics, ending the party with a bang.

This was a fantastic show - if you go to see KISS you are guaranteed a night of pure entertainment - they are true showmen and loads of fun, and reward the loyalty of their fans with one of the most impressive stage shows you are ever likely to see.