It hurts me to write this. It really does. My decision to attend Kiss’ “End of the Road” tour on February 2 in Tacoma, Washington, was a mistake.
Kiss is my favorite band, and the previous 10 times I’d seen them (list below), the band (whether it was Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Ace Frehley, Peter Criss, Eric Carr, Eric Singer, Bruce Kulick or Tommy Thayer), delivered a very good or great show. I can’t say that about what I witnessed last weekend. This isn’t about the setlist or the lack of two original members. My dissatisfaction stems entirely from Paul Stanley not being able to sing like Paul Stanley. And it was evident right away.
Detroit Rock City. The first song, my favorite song of all-time. This is going to be perfect.
And then it wasn’t.
Instead of “I feel uptight on a Saturday night,” Paul chimes in a half a verse late and he only got out “radio’s the only light” and it was rushed and my jaw dropped in disbelief.
What? How does this happen? According to setlist.fm., Kiss had performed Detroit Rock City 2,021 times prior to taking the stage that night. And on the third show of their final, final tour, Paul botched the opener, and then every other song he sang.
It also took at least three songs for the sound crew to dial in the sound. I’m told the Tacoma Dome isn’t known for acoustics, but “Shout It Out Loud” and “Deuce” sounded like they were performed in a tin can.
I pondered walking out at this point. Seriously. Did I really want my last time seeing my favorite band of all time to be this? I talked myself out of it, mainly because I flew from Boise to Seattle, navigated the bus system to Tacoma and hiked up and down a monster hill from my AirBNB to get to the show.
I’m glad I stayed as the sound improved, even though Paul did not. Gene sounded fantastic. Eric Singer’s drum solo was pretty good (I’m not a drum solo or any solo fan – I’d rather hear another song or two). Tommy Thayer didn’t wow, but he did his thing but didn’t get to sing an Ace song like he’d done at previous shows I’ve attended.
The stage was cool, the pyro was right. There were no real surprises as for new gimmicks. But then again, when Paul asked how many people were seeing Kiss for the first time, most of the arena went bonkers and told them they were in for a treat.
Had I purchased an $11 beer, I’d have gagged at that point.
“Say Yeah” was next and probably the biggest surprise (unless you looked at the previous night’s setlist like I did). Yes, Kiss played more songs from “Sonic Boom” than it did from “Rock and Roll Over” on its final tour. With a 200-plus song catalog, they were going to miss some of my favorites and I told myself I would accept whatever the band played.
I assumed they would play those songs well. The ones by Paul didn’t hold up, including “Love Gun,” and “Psycho Circus.” I can only hope that Paul was feeling off – maybe a cold or flu – because he sounded much, much better in 2014 and 2016.
And, of course, I have my memories of that first concert back in 1978 or sitting in the third row in 1985. The reunion tour, the 3-D show in LA, and the first farewell tour when Kiss was hitting on all cylinders.
That’s how I am going to try and remember the hottest band in the world, because the end of the road just doesn’t sound as good. - Nick Jezierny
My Kiss Concert History
Jan. 28, 1978 at New Haven (Conn.) Coliseum w/The Rockets
Dec. 21, 1985 at New Haven Coliseum w/Black ‘n Blue
Dec. 19, 1987 at New Haven Coliseum w/Ted Nugent
June 6, 1990 at Ohio Center w/Little Caesar and Slaughter
June 12, 1990 at Cincinnati Gardens w/Little Caesar and Slaughter
July 19, 1996 at Gund Arena w/The Nixons
Oct. 31, 1998 at Dodger Stadium w/Smashing Pumpkins
March 14, 2000 at Pan American Center (Las Cruces, NM) w/Skid Row and Ted Nugent
June 23, 2014 at USANA Amphitheater (Salt Lake City) w/Def Leppard and Kobra & the Lotus
July 7, 2016 at Taco Bell Arena (Boise, Idaho) w/Caleb Johnson
February 2, 2019 at Tacoma Dome (Tacoma, Wash.) no opening act
Click here for 12 more KISS stories on Pencilstorm. Or just google Kiss Pencilstorm.