Kiss are retiring after this tour and I am sad.
I was 11 in 1980 when I witnessed KissMania in full swing. Kiss had released their Unmasked album (FYI they did not start their makeup free era for several more years) and announced their Australian tour, with a concert to occur at VFL Park in Mulgrave in November 1980.
I am not too sure about what adults thought of this circus which was going to hit town, but the kids at my primary school were pretty excited. There were Kiss posters on the classroom walls, and heaps of kids wearing Kiss t-shirts. I recall one rather strict substitute teacher expressing his dismay at one classmate’s Ace Frehley t-shirt.
And there were Kiss cards. 66 in each set, and there were three series. The first one was with the original band and orange borders, whilst the second was of the original band with blue borders, and which continued the numbering from number 67 to 132.
And then, because there was the exciting news of a new drummer, Eric Carr, in different makeup (little did we in our childhood innocence understand why Peter Criss had decided to leave such a great band for a ‘solo career’), there was a reissue of the original 66 cards, but with new ones replacing each one which had featured the original dummer.
No Kiss toilet paper though. That must have been an oversight by their marketing department.
And then, the concert happened, and school ended for the year a few weeks later and KissMania was over. Kiss mostly then (as far as those of us of the Countdown Generation felt) seemed forgotten for a long time.
In 1996 or 97, when they did their Reunion Tour, I finally got to see them in concert – and the Reunion Tour was, for many of us fans, a bit like children of a divorced couple overjoyed to see their parents back together again, given that Peter and Ace both rejoined the band.
It was not to last alas, and when they did their misleadingly (as History has since taught us) Farewell Tour a few years later, Peter Criss had a hissy fit about money and pulled out at the last minute, never to return.
Now it is The End Of The Road. After two covid related postponements, the concert finally happened last night. I have gotten my chance to see Kiss a third and final time.
Despite Peter and Ace not being there, it could not be called a tribute act. Eric Singer is a far better drummer than Criss ever was, and Tommy Thalyer is not only a great guitarist, but his choreography with Gene Simmons onstage is reminiscent of Gene and Ace in the old days.
But then, they have had a very long time with the band, both in makeup and not, and when in makeup, they do look much as what Peter Criss and Ace Frehley did.
Mind you, getting Eric Singer to sit in front of a grand piano and sing Beth to the crowd towards the end of the night probably would cause Peter Criss to wince – he sort of wrote that song after all, and he was very proud of it (I had read all four autobiographies so I should know). But I enjoyed hearing it. And then Shandi, as the penultimate song for evening, was quite poignant, given the band is winding down after so many decades.
Even Rock n’ Roll Gods are not immortal, much as they might seem in their masks as they breath fire. They too grow old.
And so as St Paul wrote (I Corinthians 13:11-12):
When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then, face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
And so it is for us now, a time to say farewell to Kiss, and to pack away those fond childhood memories of KissMania.