08/25/2016

KISS rocks youth's first concert

By Robbie Edwards / www.register-news.com

Most people have great memories to go along with their first concert experiences.

Ten-year-old Harrison Shields of Mt.Vernon has a story of a lifetime to tell; she was given the VIP treatment by the world famous rock band KISS.

Harrison, her mother Ashli Banks and step father Sam Banks attended the KISS concert at the BMO Harris Bank Center in Rockford.

Sam Banks, a long-time KISS fan, said he was the one who converted his step daughter and wife to the KISS army.

The couple asked her daughter if she could go to any concert, which one would she choose.

Her answer was quick.

“KISS, because those guys are old and who knows how long they will tour," Harrison said.

The excitement built from the time the trip to the concert was planned.

“We always write the events we're going to on the calendar," Banks explained. "so we asked her to change the month, knowing that she would see 'KISS Concert' written on there."

Harrison changed the month page on the calendar, and asked why it said "KISS concert."

“I asked her, why do we write things on the calendar and she replied with, 'because we're going' and then I gave her the tickets,” Banks said.

Banks said they had fourth row seats and had just been seated when someone walked up to them and introduced himself as being with the band — specifically working with Gene Simmons.

“He asked us if we were aware that Paul Stanley picks a child to go on stage with him at every concert, and asked if Harrison would like to be that person,” Banks said.

Harrison excitedly told the man she would.

“He then gave us three wrist bands, and said he would be back in just a little bit to take us backstage and meet the band, and get our picture with them," Banks said. "He came back a little while later, and took us backstage."

Banks said the family got to walk by the makeup room, their private dressing rooms, their extra stage costumes and finally into a room with a massive KISS backdrop with camera set up inside.

Banks said their were already six or seven members of the military in attendance when they arrived, and were joined by Rick Nielsen, the guitarist from Cheap Trick and his family.

"KISS entered the room soon after that," Banks said. “Rick Nielsen and his family got their pictures with the band first, then the military members, and then us."

Banks said Paul Stanley asked Harrison where she got her shirt before taking a picture with her.

“It was a Japanese KISS shirt from a tour they did the year Harrison was born, in 2006," Banks said. "After getting our pictures taken, we went back up to our seats and waited for the show to start."

Harrison said she was excited to get to meet the band.

"It was neat but they were a little scary and very tall," Harrison said.

Banks said about four songs into the show, the same man who asked the family if Harrison wanted to meet the band, came back and got Harrison and Ashli and took them to the stage.

“KISS started playing the song 'I Love It Loud' and Paul walked over to the side of the stage and walked Harrison out by her hand," Banks said. “He then put the guitar over her and played the song.”

Harrison was on the stage for the majority of the song.

“Paul had her bow and curtsy,” Banks said. “When walking off stage Harrison was handed a handful of Paul Stanley guitar picks."

Banks said while walking back to her seat Harrison was getting fist bumps and high fives from a lot of the people in the crowd.

"After the show when we were leaving, Harrison was recognized by many people walking out as 'the little girl who was on stage with Paul Stanley' and many people stopped her to tell her that they hope she knows how special it was to be chosen."

Harrison said being on stage was amazing, but she did have one other favorite part of the night,

"I liked the last song 'Rock n' Roll All Nite' and all the confetti that was falling," Shields said.

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