KISS (Live)

at The Utilita Arena, Newcastle, U.K., June 6, 2023

KISS (Live at The Utilita Arena, Newcastle, U.K., June 6, 2023)
Photo: Mick Burgess

Back in 1973, four lads dreaming of stardom performed for the first time at The Coventry in New York in front of a handful of people. 50 years on, after a career selling over 100 million records, receiving more Gold and Platinum discs than any band other than the Beatles and playing to literally millions of people around the globe, it’s finally time for American Rock legends KISS, to call it a day.

Sure, their End Of The Road Farewell Tour has been stretched somewhat, with additional dates being constantly added to the schedule, but that demand to see them has to be met and the chance to catch them one last time, 40 years after their first appearance in Newcastle, was just too great an opportunity to pass by.

Nobody makes an entrance quite like KISS, absolutely nobody. Following their traditional battle cry of “You Wanted the best, you got the best, the hottest band in the world…….KISS”, they launched into “Detroit Rock City” as they descended from the rafters on platforms spewing smoke and showers of sparks while fireworks exploded overhead all flanked by huge columns of flames. Utterly stunning.

Over the next two hours KISS plundered their illustrious back catalogue that has clocked up almost 25 studio albums across their glittering career with their 1974 self-titled debut album and the classic Destroyer from 1976 providing many of the songs for this evening’s entertainment including a hard driving “Deuce” complete with their legendary KISS dance at the end and the fist pumping sing-a-long “Shout It Out Loud”.

KISS must have one of the most instantly identifiable images in music with their garish kabuki black, white and silver face paint and outrageous costumes rounded off by six-inch platform boots. With each member having their own character, a KISS show was once described as a firework explosion in Madame Tussauds.

Paul Stanley, the Starchild, lead singer and ringmaster is one of Rocks great frontmen. Blessed with an endless supply of energy and charisma, he raced from one side of the stage to the other whipping up the crowd into a frenzy aided and abetted by some rabble rousing raps. Quite a feat for a 71 year old man. Bassist and vocalist Gene Simmons, the Demon, stalked the stage with menace flicking out his tongue at every opportunity. At the end of “I Love It Loud” he breathed fire and before “God Of Thunder” he spat blood and was raised high above the stage as all around him was engulfed in smoke and flames.

While debate continues to rage about the “new boys” there’s no doubt that the Catman, drummer Eric Singer, who has been in and out of the band for the past 32 years and the Spaceman, lead guitarist Tommy Thayer, now in his 21st year as a member, have proved themselves over the years as solid replacements for the originals, Peter Criss and Ace Frehley.

The timeless classics came thick and fast with “Cold Gin” featuring a Tommy Thayer solo that culminated in his guitar shooting rockets into the lighting rig, “Callin’ Dr. Love”, the Disco thump of “I Was Made For Lovin’ You” and “Love Gun”, which saw Stanley fly across the crowd to a small stage in the centre of the Arena, kept the faithful in a state of delirium. A sprightly “Lick It Up” where lasers fired a spiders web of multicoloured lights across the hall and the menacing firefest of “War Machine” dipped into their 80s repertoire while “Psycho Circus” and “Say Yeah” made sure the later period was catered for.

The hard core fans clamoured for deep cuts and that call was answered by a hard rocking “Makin Love”, a song never performed on a stage in the UK until now. The classics just kept on coming with the set closer “Black Diamond” being a musical and visual tour-de-force, with Eric Singer’s raspy voice taking centre stage as he was raised 60 feet up into the air as all around him exploded into flames.

With a three song encore, including “Beth”, where Singer rose from beneath the stage behind a piano to deliver the night’s only ballad and the flamboyant strut of “Do You Love Me”, preceded the Rock ‘n’ Roll international anthem of “Rock ‘n’ Roll All Nite” to unite the band and fans in one mass sing-a-long as the band was high into the air while a confetti blizzard and streamers covered the crowd. Stanley returned to the stage to demolish his guitar as the explosions, fireworks and smoke made it feel like Millennium Eve.

Half a century on, a KISS show remains a stunning spectacle. They set the bar high for others to follow but tonight they showed why their show is the biggest and the best. What a way to say farewell to 50 years on the road.

Review and Photos By Mick Burgess


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

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