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3 days of madness with KISS in Canada

Posted on 07/16/2013
My 3 days of madness with Kiss, I wanted the best & I got the best ! So where to start, me & my bud Clark Mantei started our adventure in Vancouver on Thursday July.4th, the day before the Victoria concert. When Kiss announced at the last minute they we're going to be doing a press conference at the Kiss Army Depot on Thursday, we just knew we had to be there. The store was connected to Tom Lee Music on Granville St. & it was specially opened up for only a week. It was full of Kiss merchandise from the 70's to now & portions of all proceeds would be going to Sophie's Place, Gene's daughter's runaway shelter. The first 200 fans in line could get wristbands to meet the band inside the store. After the press conference with media was over & could get 1 item personally signed by Kiss. So being that i had the day off, it was a no brainer, we had to go & see if we could be 2 of the lucky 200 to get in. We arrived early in the morning & saw a few friends, as well as many other Kiss die hard maniacs. Luckily we arrived early enough, grabbed our spots in line & got our wristbands, it was Hotter Than Hell that day, pun intended, lol ! About 4.5 hrs later, they finally started letting us in groups to go into the store to meet Kiss, dressed in full costumes & makeup, this was going to be a great day ! We we're told that it was a strict 1 item signed deal & no photos would be allowed, but you could take photos while you we're in line. So figuring I had a meet & greet that I bought already for the Victoria show, I decided to just get Paul Stanley to sign my Kiss tattoo. After all i have many Paul signatures already & i have been waiting at least 15 years to get him to sign my arm. As I knew there would be no tattooist in sight & no time to get it tattied in Victoria if I got it signed at the meet & greet. So I approached Paul showed him my tattoo and told him how I'd been a huge fan for 37 years, & if he would kindly sign my tattoo. I told him I had been waiting many years for him to be able to do so. He was super nice to me, asking where I wanted it, how big, etc... And Clark thank god was on the ball enough to snap about 6 photos of the whole meeting, thank you again Clark for capturing that moment. I then met Tommy, then Eric , then Gene, & got them to sign my Monster tour program i bought at the store. I should have asked Paul to sign it as well, to complete it, but didn't want to press my luck. And I also was counting on my meet & greet the next day in Victoria, so i figured i could just get him to sign it there. So I left after being told a few times to move along & I had to go by security. I also got to briefly chat with Doc McGee, Kiss manager, while we we're in line & he was really cool to both me & Clark. We also ran into Shannon Tweed & Sophie Simmons, Shannon even remembered Clark from the Casino meet & greet a few years ago. I couldn't believe she did, but Clark is a very colorful character, so i guess it wasn't too surprising, she was as nice as always ! I should have tried to stay in the store a bit longer though, because Clark somehow managed to stay in there for about 30 minutes before finally being kicked out, the fucker, lol. He ended up getting Paul & Gene to sign 4 items & Eric & Tommy to sign 2 each for him, the bastard, lol, he even got Doc to get him items signed too, lol. I was happy for him, but at the same time a little choked at myself, that I left so fast, I should have tried to get a few more items signed, damn ? Oh well, no biggie, I was more than happy at what I got, especially Paul signing my arm & the pictures of him doing so, that was gold, that made the trip worthwhile for me right there ! All in all it was a very cool experience, but it was a little too rushed for me, i felt like i was cattle being pushed along, lol. I have to say it was fucking surreal to walk into this little store full of Kiss merchandise & there we're my childhood heroes in full Kiss makeup & costumes in living flesh. As soon as i walked in, I was like wow, this is so awesome, it felt like some kind of a dream, lol ! I had waited for that moment for so long, almost 40 years, it was hard not to feel like a little kid again, it was unreal. So after Clark finally came out, me, him & this girl we met there, went looking for the nearest tattoo shop. We found one about 2 blocks later & an artist tattooed in Paul's signature for me for only $ 80. I was super happy about that, looks great, just now need Ace & Peter to complete my Kiss tribute masterpiece. Hopefully that will happen soon for me, it has to ? So after that we jammed a bit in the acoustic room in Tom Lee, then we we're pretty wiped, as it was a long day. So we headed back to Victoria for Fridays meet & greet & concert, i was so excited for the next days festivities. I could barely sleep Thursday night, I was just too excited for my proper meet & greet the next day. Including a 45 minute unplugged soundcheck in a tent, it would be like seeing Kiss perform in you're living room. With tunes the fans could request, including rare songs. Plus there would be another 45 minute signing session, swag & a proper photo with the band in costumes & makeup, that i was most excited about. Not to mention the concert itself, 36 years in the making, my favorite band in the world since childhood were finally here in my hometown to play in Victoria, i never thought that would happen ! They would finally get to right what went wrong 36 years earlier when they canceled their show here in 1977, leaving thousands devastated ! Memorial Arena, our old barn, could not handle the size of the Kiss stage show supposedly, so it was canceled with only 3 days notice. And now, so any years later, it was finally going to happen, Kiss we're really going to play here that night. So Clark phones me early Friday morning to tell me he made the front cover of the Times Colonist. Again I was happy for him, but I was supposed to be in that article as well, that is another story ? So i was a little bummed about that, i can't lie, not a good start to the day i thought, hmmm ? I went back to bed, woke up around 1 that afternoon in a great mood, completely stoked for the meet & greet that was suppose to start in just 2 short hrs. I check my messages & to my horror, there is 1 from Vipnation telling me that my meet & greet has been canceled, are you fucking kidding me I shouted ??? I could not believe it, on the day of the show with only 2 hr notice, it is canceled, WTF, I was so crushed ! I had been waiting for this moment for 37 years, I had saved up the money for the last 4 months to pay for it. I wanted to do it up in style in their 1st & probably last appearance in my hometown. I had been preparing the last 2 weeks with what to bring to get signed, etc... & then all the sudden, bam, it's gone, just like that, are you fucking kidding me, lord why ??? So I phoned them & they could not tell me what exactly happened, they had no answer for me at all ? Only that they we're sorry, & I would still get a ticket & be fully compensated. I phoned Clark told him what happened & of course he was crushed too & in disbelief as well, just our luck ! I then went down to the arena for 3 to possibly get filmed by Check 6 news, I get there find the guy & tell him what happened, then he interviewed me. But the thing is he only asked me about what happened with the meet & greet being canceled & what not ? So when the news did put together their story, i am assuming they didn't want any negativity at all. Since it would change the whole story completely, with the cancellation of the meet & greet & all. Don't know why he didn't ask me any questions about my love for the band, how I got into them, how long of a fan I have been, how many Kiss concerts I have seen, etc... ??? Because it was supposed to be a story on the fans & Kiss 1st concert ever in Victoria, the clown didn't interview me right at all ??? In the end, only my fucking tattoo made in on the news, they didn't even show my face or mention my name, lol, just my luck again ? I thought, damn I should have been in the paper & on the news, i get neither ? But I was happy for Clark, for making it in the paper & my 2 other Kiss buds, Kerry Kelly & Keith Pinel for making it on the news, congrats guys. I then waited to meet the VipNation rep at 5 pm to get my ticket & see what exactly happened ? He ended up telling me that not only did Victoria's meet & greet get cancelled, but also so did Vancouver's & Kelowna's, & he couldn't tell me why, he didn't know he said. So he then told me, that i would get my full money refunded, minus the price for the actual ticket to the show. He then gave me 2 front row tickets on Gene's side, which somewhat eased the blow. I had seen Kiss 2nd, 3rd & 5th row before, but never in 1st row, i was pretty stoked about that i have to say. He also gave us 2 fully signed 8 x 10's by the band, our meet & greet laminate & also all the swag that came with the meet & greet, t-shirt, picks, bags, etc... we would get in the mail for absolutely free. So they did compensate us pretty well in the end, but i still was sad i was not going to meet them properly & get my photo with them. I then went home to drown my sorrows in a bottle of whiskey, for the next 3 hrs before the show, until Clark & some friends showed up, lol. Enough of the whoa is me, i decided fuck it, it wasn't meant to be this time, i have a front row ticket, i am still going to have a blast, Kiss is finally playing in my hometown, that is gold in itself ! It was great running into friends inside the show, some i hadn't seen in a long time & even a few ex-girlfriends too, lol. The concert in Victoria was awesome, easily 1 of the best i have seen them put on, no joke ! The new Spider stage was breathtaking to see in person, & the band was tight throughout the show. Paul Stanley proved why he still is one of the best frontmen in the business, the guy is just a phenomenal showman, he always amazes me & at 61 too, just unreal what he does ! He was on fire, & his voice was awesome that night, best he has sounded since 2006, when he went on a solo tour in my opinion. I was blown away how good he sounded, especially since he has struggled at times in the last 5 years or more. It was so crazy being that close to my childhood heroes & they each came right in front us many times during the show & interacted with us. We all had so much fun, i was in absolute Rock & Roll heaven ! Kiss put on a show in Victoria for the ages, it was what Rock & Roll is all about, they have been delivering the goods for 40 years now, crazy ! They had some of the best pyro, bombs, explosions, smoke & confetti that i have ever seen them use, it was so killer ! I dug the setlist for the most part, but wished they had of nixed a few 80's songs for a few older 70's tunes. All in all though, i was pretty happy with the songs they played. Especially War Machine, never thought i would ever see that live, & Gene absolutely slayed on that 1, he sounded so killer on all his songs ! After the show was over & the lights went up, Clark taps me on the shoulder & says, look who is behind us in 2nd row. I'm like who ? It was fucking Joe Walsh from The Eagles, no way, i could not believe it, Joe is a Kiss fan, sweet ! Clark who has met him a number of times & who talked to him earlier in the day, called him over& i got a picture with him. I told him that his song In The City is one of my favorite songs & that it totally made the end of The Warriors movie. He seemed happy i said that, the guy was super cool, & funny too. He had on his leather vest, a button that said Leave Me Alone, classic. And the strange thing too, is that he paid for a meet & greet just like me & Clark, too funny, lol ? He flew in from LA just to see the opening show, seems his wife also has friends that live in Victoria, he told me he loves our city. I asked him what he was doing here in Victoria & he said he loves Kiss, wanted to see the show just like me, the man has great taste, lol ! So after the show, talked to a few fans & some old friends, then headed home to try & get some much needed rest. I had a long day ahead of me, om Saturday for the Vancouver concert that i went to as well of course. With only about 14 hrs sleep in the last 3 days, me & Clark took the 11 ferry over on Saturday morning for the Van Kiss concert. The 1st stop was a Tommy Thayer ( Kiss Guitarist ( Signing at L & M ) downtown, that we decide to go to as well. It was scheduled for 2 pm - 3 pm & we just barely made it in time, got there about 2 : 35. So we get in line, talk to a few other fans, explaining to everyone what a great show they put on in Victoria, but it was bit of a downer for us, because our meet & greet got canceled without explanation. So when it was my turn, i walked up to Tommy, shook his hand, & told him it was nice to meet him again. I also told him how awesome the show was last night & thanked him for Kiss finally coming to play Victoria. He said we deserved it & that we had waited far too long & that they had a blast & felt it was a good show, i agreed ! I felt i had to ask him, because i needed an answer, i have to ask, "What happened to the meet & greet" in Victoria ? He told me that they felt really bad about that, & that not enough sold for the 1st 3 shows in Victoria, Vancouver & Kelowna. So they had to cancel all of them, he said it was a last minute decision & that they we're not pleased at all about doing so. He told me at least 15 have to be sold for each concert for it to be worthwhile for them & that only about 10 had sold for Victoria unfortunately. I told him how devastated we both we're & how i had waited 37 years for that moment, only to be letdown by the cancellation the very day of the show. I also said that i still had a great time at the concert itself, but it wasn't quite the same ! That i had saved for 4 months for it, been preparing the last week, for what to bring inside to get signed, etc... And that i has just spent almost $ 50 in getting 8 x 10's & 11 x 14's blown up & what i was most bummed about, was that i was so looking forward to getting my picture with them all in full makeup & costumes. Then he says out of nowhere, that he felt really bad, but if i wrote down my name on a piece of paper he gave me, he would personally give me 2 VIP passes for that night to be picked up at the box office. And that i would definitely get my picture with them that night for sure. I was like no way, are you serious, Clark filmed the whole thing & later said that my whole body & spirit just lifted, lol, i could not believe our luck, really ? I honestly was thinking on our way over on the ferry & even told Clark, man if only we could get word to Doc or Shannon, maybe they could help us out ? I wasn't even thinking that we are going to see Tommy, the guitarist in Kiss, maybe he can help us out, lol, didn't even cross my mind ? So i give him my info, then he says they will be at the box office for us, keep it on the down low & asks " You do have ID right " ? Noooo, just my fucking luck, lol, i didn't bring any ID with me, only have a passport right now, & i don't like carrying it around, unless i absolutely have to. So i say, no i actually don't have any on me right now, Clark you have some right, figured he must, lol ? He says no he didn't bring any either, lol, i am like noooooooo, this can't happen, we are not going to be able to pick them up without proper ID ? Tommy then says that it''s doubtful they will release them to us unless we have some ID, motherfuckerrrr, damnnnn, fuckity fuucck ! So then Clark says, what about this, i was in the our local paper yesterday, front cover, has my picture, says my name, that's ID. Tommy just laughs & says heh, it's worth a try right, so he takes down Clark's name instead. Then says, that's about all i can do to help, hope it works out for you both ? So we thank him profusely, & on our way to our hotel, we are both thinking the very worst of course, lol ! That it's not going to happen for us, how could we both be so stupid, we are idiots, WTF, who walks around without any ID, evidently us, lol ??? So when we got down to Rogers Arena that night, Clark told me to let him do his thing & do the talking. So i went across the street for a few minutes. When i came back & got closer to the window, i see Clark signing some papers, i was like yeah baby, this looks like a good sign to me ? He looks over at me & smiles, yesss, thank you, there is a god, lol, & just like that hands me a VIP wristband, awwww yeah baby ! Clark told me that he looked around & found the right young ticket guy ro talk to. And in the end, he only had to show the newspaper story & that ID was good enough with the ticket dude, lol, to funny we we're so damn lucky, whewww ? It's funny how life works sometimes in such fucked up mysterious ways, one obstacle after another we go though, lol ? It was almost like the Rock Gods we're testing out strength & resiliency as fans & as people ? I seriously believe in fate, & if ever 2 people we're destined to meet Kiss that day, it certainly was us, that is for sure ! It wasn't meant to be for some strange reason in Victoria, but it was meant to be in Vancouver ? So we both did get our pictures taken that night with the hottest band in the world & i can honestly say, no joke, "I can die a happy man now". It was an awesome experience, one that i had been waiting for so long to happen, & i will never forget that day for the rest of my life ! I got to bump fists with all of them when i got my photo taken & as i was leaving, i thanked them. I personally went up to Tommy as i was leaving to thank him again, he recognized me right away, smiled, & said glad you made it in, enjoy the show brother ! I have a total newfound respect for that man, he didn't have to do that for us, but he did just to make us happy. He completely understands the fans, hell he used to be 1 himself before he took over for Ace Frehley, he was bred on Kiss. The concert in Vancouver was great too, maybe even a bit better than Victoria's show. Same setlist, but a bit more pyro, & a bit bigger of a stage i think ? Also we we're in the 1st row again for Vancouver's show, but this time, we had them on the side of the stage. It was insane, it was like we we're on stage with them, we we're so damn close, i got some crazy photos ! They all came over to us numerous times, interacted with us & Tommy even recognized us again. This was the best weekend of my life by far, thank you Tommy Thayer & thank you Kiss for an absolute amazing experience once again, I will never ever forget it ! I can't wait to see you guys live again, I always have the time of my life at you're shows. And I will most definitely try my luck again with the meet & greet package, so I can experience it proper !
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