May 09, 2010

By Tim Barr, 09/05/2010

"DON'T touch my a**," warns Gene Simmons.

He's in no imminent danger. A-Listed is a shade over 6ft but, even without his platform boots, America's most legendary rocker is a good few inches taller.

And standing side by side with his towering presence, you get the distinct impression that, if anyone's going to be molested, it won't be him.

A hand the size of a bear's paw, and just as heavy, drops on A-Listed's shoulder.

Suddenly, in the space of a stalled heartbeat, it snakes from shoulder to throat as he grabs A-Listed in a playful stranglehold.

"I'm 230lbs. I could never have joined The Rolling Stones," he grins. "They're HALF my size."

The God Of Thunder, it turns out, has a wicked sense of humour.

A-Listed is backstage with Kiss as their brilliant Sonic Boom Tour rolls into Europe.

Around us, the greatest rock'n'roll show of all-time is being assembled.

More than a dozen massive artic trucks have disgorged tons of equipment as 44 permanent crew members - plus a squad of hired-in locals - rig the stage with hundreds of lights, pyrotechnics and special effects.

"There's a lot of fire," explains one of the crew bosses. "It gets hot anywhere within 100ft of the stage."

Zip-wires, hydraulics and a state-of-the- art video-screen system sit alongside amps, guitars and recording kit (so gig- goers can buy an instant record of the show on USB as they leave) because Kiss don't do things on the cheap.

And they're determined that when the Sonic Boom Tour arrives at Glasgow's SECC tonight, on their first visit to Scotland in nearly two decades, the fans get their money's worth... and then some.

"We're more than a band, we're a phenomenon," says Paul Stanley, who founded the multi-million-selling act with Simmons in New York City in 1972. "But without the fans, we wouldn't be here.

"The whole premise of Kiss is that when you're paying to see us, we feel we owe you everything.

"It's an exciting brand of rock'n'roll that comes off as pure entertainment.

"When you come to see Kiss, you get a show. You get something special. It'll dazzle you... and it'll DEAFEN you."

They're on the road, of course, to promote their latest album Sonic Boom, a return to the world-beating form of vintage Kiss classics like Dressed To Kill, Destroyer and Love Gun.

And while album highlights like Modern-Day Delilah, Say Yeah and I'm An Animal are key elements of their stunning live set, it's also heavily loaded with fan favourites like Deuce, Firehouse and Rock'N'Roll All Nite from the mid- 1970s period that made them superstars.

"We're covering everything from the beginning to the Boom," Paul explains.

"But not only that, it's the greatest stage set we've ever had and the greatest show we've done too. We're having a great time.

"It's really a celebration of the band and a celebration of the fans. We've all been in this together for a long time - and there's a reason for that. This show sums up why we've lasted so long. And why we're better than ever."

SONIC Boom is available now on Roadrunner Records.