October 1, 2021
Fort Worth, TX
Review by David DiPietro
Photos by Will Crews
The Final Tour Ever By KISS "Is It Real, Or Is It Memorex?"
It is somehow weird to be even talking about KISS in 2021. But we are. I somehow get a feeling of sincerity with this one, although suspect to do further business. I first saw KISS in Fort Worth in 1977, with Styx opening. So maybe it is appropriate that we close out there also. If that is indeed the case, it was closing out in very fine fashion. I have now seen every incarnation of KISS. Musically, tonight, despite missing original members, Ace and Peter, KISS were the best I have ever heard live. Almost flawless. The lights, pyrotechnics, and effects were also fantastic. The people who do their lights, pyro, and sound, are artists unto themselves.
KISS pulled out the stops. They detonated enough fireworks, to block the site of Hong Kong from Kowloon, on Lunar New Year. Mirror ball? Check. Sparklers, lasers, and lifts up and down the arena. Yup. Paul Stanley, flying over the audience on a cable, to a small stage at the sound board,playing the whole time, and giving people back there a front row performance for 2 songs? Absolutely. Enough confetti to rival a Times Square Tickertape Parade? Dittos, Rush. Hundreds of giant balloons, emblazoned with the KISS logo? Icing on the cake.
KISS hit the stage at 9 at p.m., and dazzled the crowd with a musical and visual feast. As Geddy Lee of Rush said many times, "Despite what you might think of KISS musically, nobody tries harder to give you a better show than KISS." That statement was epitomized Friday night.
Opening with a predictable "Detroit Rock City," the sound in the hall was dialed in by the second verse and guitar break. This was my first show at Dickies Arena, and the sound is so much preferable to that of say, the AAC. Or especially the Starplex/Smirnoff. If I have any complaints, it would be some of the song selections. Of course I wanted deep cuts from the 70's. KISS opted to throw in 2 of the radio hits from the 80's no make-up period, "Lick it Up," and "Tears are Falling." One of those would have been much more than enough. But why on earth they would do 2 songs off of 1998's "Psycho Circus," is absolutely beyond me? The jam on "100,000 Years," was tasty, and they briefly musically referenced the Who's classic, "Won't Get Fooled Again." I would have preferred the whole "100,000 Years," to anything off of Psycho Circus, and Asylum.
The mirror ball effect during the both in the auditorium, and on the projection screen for their KISS disco hit in 1979, "I Was Made for Loving You," was funny, and appropriate.
For one of the encores, drummer Eric Singer rose from under the stage on a grand piano, and perfromed "Beth." The way it sounded, was straight off of the Destroyer album. At least I think he was playing the piano. $immon$ and Stanley are shrewd businessmen. They knew when to take the make up off in 1983, and knew when to put it back on in 1996. They knew the right musicians to hire to replace Ace and Peter. Tommy Thayer (ex-Black 'n Blue), and Eric Singer (ex-Black Sabbath and others), both shined on their obligatory guitar and drum solos. Eric sounded just like Peter Criss on the vocals of "Black Diamond."
It must be mentioned, despite Paul Stanley recently having Covid-19, and Gene Simmons imploring fans to wear masks, I was one of the very few people in the audience wearing one, other than security and police.
Well, after all, this is Ft. Worth. I think I counted 5 masks there, other than myself, but I wasn't really looking. Maybe instead of calling the tour The End of the Road, it should have been called KISS Unmasked? Pleasantly, I did see about 1,000 different KISS shirts, I had never seen before. The fans there were hardcore, and the entire crowd stood for 2 hours. It was nice to see that KISS and their music, and loud rock music in general, has lasted 5 generations, as well as resonated with many different ethnicities, as were in the audience. 8 year-old kids there, in full Gene garb, with 7-inch leather heels. The gamut of ages there was probably 6-76. A nice sight to see.
A mention must be made about the artist whom opened the show, Garibaldi. And when I say artist, I mean that as in a painter. Yes, a painter opened for KISS (!). I thought it was going to be the drummer, Dave Garibaldi. The guy stood there, and seemingly randomly hurled different paints on various canvases, and then you realized it was portraits of various rock stars, both living and gone. Most poignantly, one of the late Eddie Van Halen. The last one, I could not figure out, until he turned it right side up, and it was a portrait of KISS. Really amazing.
On a side note, gas was 51 cents a gallon when I first saw KISS, tickets to the show were $8.00. At this show, I was lucky to be there on KISS' dime! They even paid for my parking, too. Nice on them. But the other 14,000 people or so, probably got their $129.50 worth also.